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2019 Gear Guide 10 off-road touring essentials: Carrying fuel

By Dean Mellor, 29 Dec 2018 Gear

2019 Gear Guide 10 off-road touring essentials Carrying fuel feature

Go further with these fuel carrying options.

Once you’re out of Australia’s cities and main regional towns, service stations can be few and far between. To ensure you have enough fuel to get you where you want to go, you might have to carry more than the capacity of your vehicle’s standard tank. When it comes to safely carrying extra fuel, there are several options.

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Jerrycans have been around since World War II, and they are an effective and affordable way to carry extra fuel. Modern jerrycans are made from steel or polyethylene, and their basic design has remained largely unchanged for 80-odd years.

Jerrycans and other fuel containers shouldn’t be carried inside a vehicle cabin, especially if carrying petrol, and they need to be kept well clear of electrical accessories such as fridges and other potential ignition sources.

In a ute, jerrycans can be stored in the tub, but if you drive a wagon they will need to be mounted in a jerrycan holder either at the rear of the vehicle or, as a last resort, up on the roof. A full jerrycan will weigh around 20kg, so they can be difficult to load and unload from the roof of a vehicle and can also affect vehicle handling, both on the road and off it.

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Fuel transfer from jerrycans to a vehicle’s main fuel tank can be a messy and dangerous affair, and there’s also an increased chance of fuel contamination, especially in wet or dusty conditions.

Long-range fuel tanks

Fitment of a long-range fuel tank is without a doubt the best way to increase your vehicle’s fuel capacity; although, it will be much more expensive than the cost of a couple of jerrycans.

Whether you opt for a larger capacity tank to replace your vehicle’s OEM tank, or you add an auxiliary tank to complement the OEM tank, the under-vehicle location of a long-range fuel tank ensures weight is kept low where it will have the least impact on vehicle handling.

Other advantages of long-range fuel tanks include much greater fuel capacity for vastly extended range, and no need for a potentially messy fuel transfer. Replacement tanks simply operate the same as an OEM tank, while auxiliary tanks usually feed into the vehicle’s main tank via gravity transfer or an integrated fuel pump that can be operated from inside the vehicle at the flick of a switch.

Most long-range fuel tanks are manufactured from steel; although, some are now made from tough plastics as used in OEM tanks. Most well-designed tanks are cleverly designed to fit around vehicle components for the greatest possible fuel capacity without interfering with driveline and suspension components.

Occasionally, ground clearance has to be compromised to achieve this, so when choosing a tank for your vehicle ensure it will give you the touring range you want without unacceptable loss of ground clearance. Also bear in mind that carrying a lot of extra fuel will add weight to your vehicle, reducing its overall capacity to carry other gear and equipment.

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Other considerations

Another fuel-carrying solution comes in the form of moulded poly tanks that offer more capacity than jerrycans and come in various shapes and sizes to fit into various places in or on a vehicle, including footwells, ute tubs, rear bars and up on roof racks.

Many of these tanks can be fitted with optional fuel lines and taps for safer and cleaner fuel transfer, and some can even be permanently plumbed in to directly feed your vehicle’s main tank.

When touring in remote areas where there are no fuel supplies, you should constantly monitor your fuel situation. Check jerrycan lids are on and tanks are not damaged, and if you have a long-range tank do a daily check for leaks around welds/joins, fittings and fuel lines. It’s also a good idea to carry some extra fuel in a separate container, as well as a fuel tank repair kit.