There can’t be too many people in Australia today who haven’t been affected by the huge increase in fuel prices. For us, we committed to doing a lap of Australia right before the fuel prices went through the roof, and its made that expense significantly higher.
Whilst it was no where near high enough to put us off our lap of Australia, it was enough to make us think more about how we can get the best bang for our buck when it comes to fuel.
Slow down (short term and long term)
There’s two ways which will hugely reduce your fuel expenses, and that’s to slow down. One relates to your speed that you drive at, and the other relates to how quickly you move from place to place. I’ll explain a bit further.
Dropping your speed from 100km/h to 90km/h will reduce your fuel consumption considerably. Every vehicle I’ve ever owned has made a substantial reduction, and for our current Isuzu Dmax I can see the automatic transmission temperature and engine temperature drop considerably, which is another benefit.
If you can save 2L/100km on a lap of Australia by dropping 10km/h, its about $1500 saved.
The latter point relates to slowing your travels down. If you do a thousand kilometres a week, try and reduce it so the costs are spread our over a much longer period. I’ve met pensioners who make a shoestring budget last because they reduce their movements substantially, and instead of doing a lap of Australia in 6 months, they do a lap of one state in that time.
Fill up where its cheap
It goes without saying that buying cheap fuel will save you a bucket load of money. Crossing the Nullarbor, we put 40L of diesel in at Madura, thinking it was one of the cheaper service stations at $2.49 a litre. As it turns out, we could have not done this, and put the fuel in at Nundroo for $1.98 a litre. A casual $20 lost by me, because we weren’t aware of the fuel prices.
If there is a fuel cycle, it can pay to fill up on the cheap day, as this can save a huge amount of cash. Otherwise, know where the cheap fuel is, and try and get it. We use Fuel Watch, and Fuel Map, and do our best to avoid paying more than we have to (but clearly fell short of the mark crossing the Nullarbor!).
Consider a long range tank
If you have the weight capacity, and the need to fit a long range tank, seriously consider it. These can save you a bucket load of money, especially if you are doing off road touring where fuel can be super expensive. We’ve paid $3 a litre for fuel at Lorella Springs before (and I bet its much more than that now), and it doesn’t take long to pay for a long range tank if you do a few remote trips.
I know when I looked at getting one for our 80 Series Land Cruiser, the 5 week trip through the Kimberley would have paid for half of the long range tank, which is pretty impressive. A long range tank allows you to skip the smaller fuel stations that charge an arm and a leg, and stick with the larger ones that are priced in a more favourable way.
How’s your tyre pressures?
The rolling resistance of your tyres is one of the larger contributors to bad fuel economy. If you are running your tyre pressures lower than what they should be, your motor has to work harder to keep the vehicle moving and that results in a higher fuel consumption.
Make sure your air filter and MAF are clean
There’s a lot going on in the motor of your 4WD, and having a dirty air filter or a dirty mass air flow sensor will hugely increase the consumption of fuel. In both cases, you can remedy it within a matter of minutes, and it can pay for itself hundreds of times over.