Australia is a pretty big place, so if you’re hitting the remote outback, chances are you might go for hundreds of kilometres without a petrol station in sight. Not to mention, outback fuel prices can be exorbitant, sometimes in excess of $3 a litre.
So, what options are available to you when it comes to fuel – arguably the most important thing to carry on you during a serious 4x4 tour (apart from water)? Let’s take a look at your options.
Long Range Tanks
Image via Club 4x4
A long range fuel tank is an investment that any serious 4WDer should consider. Most stock standard 4x4s have rather small fuel tanks averaging about 85 litres, which is enough to get you around the city for sure, but when you take into account the different conditions presented in off-road driving those 85 litres won’t go far. Since you’ll likely be driving slow and in low gear, your fuel consumption will go, so you need a way to carry more fuel for long-haul drives.
This is where long range fuel tanks as well as auxiliary tanks really come in handy, enabling you to carry anywhere up to 160 litres of fuel – enough to extend your range in the outback considerably. Although they can be pricey, they’re the best and safest way to add more fuel capacity to your 4x4.
Jerry cans slung on the back of 4x4s are a very common sight when you’re off the beaten path, since they’re the easiest and most economic way to carry extra fuel in your 4x4. Depending on the type of fuel you need, your metal jerry cans will be colour-coded – diesel jerry cans are yellow, while petrol jerry cans are red. Metal cans are always preferred over plastic.
The only issue jerry cans present is that they can be quite weighty. A full 20 litre can weighs around 25kg, so you have to consider how many cans you’re carrying and where you load them onto your 4x4 to avoid weight distribution problems. Never store them in the cabin – the fumes are dangerous. Instead, look into loading them on the back or roof of your vehicle. You can storage racks for jerry cans or you can fix them to your roof rack set-up, but keep in mind that too many jerry cans on your 4x4’s roof can affect its handling and centre of gravity.
Legally, you can carry up to 120 litres of extra fuel in jerry cans.
These are a halfway version of a jerry can and a long range fuel tank, allowing you to carry more fuel than a jerry can and in a more practical way – especially since they also work with 12V pumps, which makes refilling your main tank easier. Sized between 50-100 litres, polyethylene tanks are designed in such a way that they conform to the body of your 4x4, such as the wheel arches in the back of a ute or the underside of your vehicle.
Fuel bladders are the perfect option if neither a tank nor a jerry can suits your 4x4 setup. Available in a wide range of sizes, they can be folded down to about the size of an A4 piece of paper when they aren’t in use.
Fuel is just one thing you’ll need to consider when you’re travelling in the outback – check out our dedicated blog in which we discuss all of the essentials you’ll want to take on your next 4x4 tour of the wilderness.