4wd towing caravan

WAYS TO MINIMISE 4WD TOURING AND FUEL CONSUMPTION

While there are a lot of articles to be found on the Internet about minimising fuel consumption, I wanted to put this one together with considerations for anyone who’s into touring and camping 4WD like me.

Saving on fuel not only is great for a bonus when you check back on your budget, it’s great for the environment. And I am all for that.

I’ve found that there are a number of ways to really save on fuel, especially when you’ve got a loaded up 4WD and you’re towing a caravan at the same time. Speed has a lot to do with fuel consumption. A lot more than you many think. Take a read and get a better understanding of what I mean.

WHAT WORKS AGAINST EFFICIENCY

Anything that works against efficiency is working against you when you are trying to save on fuel. Let’s take a look at some of the basic considerations…

WIND RESISTANCE AND DRAG

Drag and wind resistance are the enemy of economy. You’re burning more fuel because your vehicle, whatever you tow and whatever you have on the roof are fighting against you moving forward. I bet you didn’t know that wind resistance is proportional to speed squared. That means when you double your speed, your drag is increased by 4 times. When you go from 25 km/h to 100 km/h you increase drag by 16 times. In short, as soon as you start adding speed, you are adding loads of drag and burning up loads of fuel.

However, it does not end there. The design of your caravan and anything on your roof add to your drag and wind resistance. If you can smoothen out those points, you’ll make some improvements. Whenever you carry something outside of your vehicle, you are adding fuel consumption in terms of weight and again with wind resistance.

WAYS TO REDUCE WIND RESISTANCE AND DRAG

• Driver slower or slowly
• Minimise what you carry on the outside of your vehicle because anything on top of or hanging from your vehicle creates wind resistance
• Draft behind trucks where you can on highways while staying safe
• Be careful with modifications and additions to your 4WD that create draft
• Believe it or not but this one is true, keep your vehicle clean because a dirty car creates a whole lot more draft

MECHANICAL FRICTION

It’s not just your vehicle that is creating friction in the air, every part of your vehicle is creating friction somewhere. Mechanical friction is another big way you lose efficiency. The biggest causes of losses to economy through mechanical friction involve everything from your engine to your tyres on the road.

WAYS TO REDUCE MECHANICAL FRICTION

• Use a tyre pressure gauge to make sure your tyres are set to the right pressure for the roads. This is especially important when you are changing air pressure to meet different terrain types
• Use a tyre pressure gauge to make sure your tyres have slightly higher pressure when you are carrying a load, whether that is a caravan or stuff on your roof
• Use tyres without a huge and aggressive tread. It’s definitely best to speak to a tyre professional about this when you are buying new tyres, especially if you are driving on and offroad
• Reduce your engine RPMs by not revving your engine high and keep to changing short shifts. The more you rev your engine, the more you’ll be using fuel
• Keep your vehicle well serviced and check all your lubricants before going on any slightly longer journey

Okay, so this is not the limit to reducing the ways to reduce drag and wind resistance. For example, even a large exhaust pipe will cause reduced power on your 4WD because of heat loss. The way you drive has a massive impact on the way you consume fuel. If you are heading towards a traffic light or any other reason to stop you can save on fuel by taking your foot off the accelerator. Accelerating and braking are huge fuel wasters.

Drive a little smarter and enjoy the journey a whole lot more by saving on fuel. There are even those people who take this very seriously. I find it more of a game and enjoy driving and maintaining my vehicle to reduce drag and increase my fuel economy. If you can find ways to make it fun, you’ll be saving more fuel like me very fast.

 


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Jake Taylor
jake.taylor@dinga.com.au

Jake is a global traveller who has recently called Australia his home again. If he's not travelling, he is writing about it and his experience.