What’s the ideal fuel range for travelling Australia?

There’s no denying Australia is a big place. If you want to travel from one place to another, you need a fair bit of fuel. However, fuel capacity is only relevant when you consider the fuel consumption, and at the end of the day, both are important as they determine your fuel range.

4WD’s use a hugely varying amount of fuel. Some will tick along at 8L/100km, and others use around 35L/100km when towing. When you are building a 4WD for touring Australia, one of the most important things you can consider is how far you can go between stops. Ultimately this affects your trip planning, and whether or not you need to take extra jerry cans, or forego parts of the trip entirely.

Dmax Long Range Tank
How far can you go on a tank of fuel?

Determining your fuel requirements

Everyone has different needs when it comes to fuel requirements. If you are touring Australia on the blacktop and just hopping from town to town, you can often get away with a 400km range. However, if you are like us and prefer to get off the black top as much as possible and explore the less travelled paths, you’ll need a greater fuel range.

I mentioned above that your range is a combination of your fuel capacity and your fuel consumption. You can actually change both fairly easily (although reducing fuel consumption below a certain point is impossible), but it can take time and a bit of thought.

In order to identify your actual fuel range, you need to do some testing in the exact conditions you’ll be travelling. The number of people who hook a big caravan on and are devastated by the amount of additional fuel used is huge.

Have a good think about where and how you are travelling, and then adjust your consumption/fuel capacity in order to meet it best.

For touring Australia in a 4WD

In the travels we have done, I’d say 600 – 700km of range will cover you for most situations. Now, if you are towing, this means 600 – 700km when fully loaded, and towing and sitting at the speed limit you’d normally do so.

When we first got our Isuzu Dmax it would do 650km from a factory tank fairly easily, but once it was decked out and towing our Reconn R2 we were lucky to get more than 450km out of a tank, which was a major inconvenience.

We finally committed to an ARB Frontier long range fuel tank that holds 140L of diesel, which gives us 800km of range when towing our camper trailer, and more than 1000km when not towing anything.

Filling the Dmax with fuel
I got sick of using jerry cans

700km will comfortably allow you to travel from big fuel station to big fuel station, across the majority of Australia. Now, by all means, don’t take this as gospel. Make sure you have enough fuel for the trip you are doing!

For some remote 4WD tracks, you will need a lot more range than that. The Canning Stock Route requires a heap of fuel, and 600 – 700km isn’t going to cut it.

Jerry cans and long range fuel tanks

The best arrangement for long distance travelling is a long range tank. You stop and fill up at the big fuel stations, skip all the small ones and fill up when the prices are cheap. This does a few things – saves you money on fuel, reduces the chances of picking up bad fuel from smaller outlets and saves you time in not having to stop and fill up regularly,

Jerry cans of fuel
I hate jerry cans, and that’s from years of using them

However, long range tanks are heavy, cost a fair bit to install, hinder your clearance and not everyone wants to run one. In that case, jerry cans work well, and we used to run 3 on the camper trailer, which brought our capacity from 76L in the main tank to 136L.

Yep, its a pain to stop and refuel, and I honestly think the long range fuel tank might be the best modification we did to the Dmax. Ironically, it was also the last, but there you go!

What fuel range do you have? Is it enough?

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  1. Hey Kent,

    Is the 520km towing a van? If not, it will probably drop a fair bit when you do tow. 520km is enough to travel around Australia, but it depends on where you want to go, and how far off grid you want to get.

    A jerry can or two would give you peace of mind, or you look at a long range tank, or take nothing and just be diligent with your fuel stops.

    All the best

  2. Kent Hill says:

    Towing a van around Australia with our Holden Trailblazer LTZ, we get 520km comfortable between refuels. We will be sticking to the main roads, do I need to carry spare fuel, would rather not. What advice can you give me?