BEAT THE BOWSER
Try some of our fuel saving tips to make that next tank go further
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY GRANT HANAN
Travelling long distances means that fuel costs will swallow a significant slice of your travelling budget – and this can be further compounded when towing. But it’s not all doom and gloom! There are ways to maximise your dollar to get the most mileage out of a tank regardless of your vehicle or fuel type. Here are some tips to help improve your fuel economy.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR VEHICLE
It is important to start with the right combination for your tow vehicle and RV. This means don’t “over power” your setup if it’s not necessary. If you want to make savings on fuel usage, you need to know your vehicle’s current usage before hitching up. Record these results and check against the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure you are close to the numbers quoted. Keep a fuel log that includes the type(s) of driving you do to help understand your fuel consumption rates.
Reliable and well-maintained vehicles are going to deliver a better result in the economy stakes. Before heading off on that long towing trip, have your vehicle serviced and tuned. At the service, have the provider tune your vehicle for optimum fuel economy for towing. To do this, the provider will adjust the fuel ratio settings in your engine diagnostics. Request a printout of the adjusted settings for future reference.
IN BETWEEN SERVICES
Conduct regular under-bonnet checks to pick up any noticeable changes between services. In the short term, these changes could be adding to your fuel consumption. If left unattended, they could lead to larger expenses.
Regularly check oil levels, oil colour and cooling system levels, and watch the temperature gauge closely. Outback driving on dirt roads can cause air filters to become dirty resulting in restricted air flow which affects fuel mixture ratios. Replace any belt pulleys that are worn and slipping as these will add more load to the engine.
WHEELS AND TYRES
Both these items play a significant role when it comes to getting the best fuel consumption possible. Incorrectly inflated tyres will add extra load and drag so follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Wheel balance and alignment is just as important as tyre pressure. Monitor the wear and tear on your tyres and rotate them regularly. Changing the size of wheels and tyres will also add to the variables so choose wisely if you are deviating from the original specifications. You need to weigh up all the benefits before changing.
STREAMLINE YOUR VEHICLE
Aim to make your vehicle more streamlined by removing the roof rack if it’s not needed for your next adventure. Drive with your windows up to help avoid wind drag. Use a towing wind deflector to reduce frontal wind drag against your RV.
Wheel bearings should be greased and set correctly. The handbrake and electric brakes should also be adjusted to avoid dragging. Wheels and tyres need to be aligned with correct pressures.
WEIGHT & PAYLOAD
Without doubt, the more weight you have on board, the more fuel used. You can control the payload weight, so avoid carrying excess water, food and beverages. Buy supplies when needed as it can make a difference at the fuel pump. Periodically, have a spring clean and do your best to lighten your load. Be ruthless! It all helps when it comes to economy and stretching that tank of fuel further.
There is a trade-off, but here are some tips to get the best results when driving.
Ease your foot down on the pedal to increase the throttle slowly.
Aim for smooth gear changing and avoid over-revving manual vehicles. Automatics these days will select the appropriate gearing from the engine’s ECU, but control your right foot.
SPEEDO AND TACHOMETER
Every vehicle has a sweet spot for fuel economy. When the needle on the tachometer bounces, you are most likely using excessive revs and fuel. Watch the tachometer and keep it constant to get the best results.
Minimise driving in peak hours to avoided congested traffic and use bypass routes when possible.
Avoid using cruise control when towing through hills and into a headwind as it is designed to get to the set speed as quickly as possible. In these instances, your vehicle uses higher revs than necessary and more fuel is consumed.
STOP EXCESS IDLING
Unlike older engine types, modern ones don’t need to idle for long periods to warm up. To avoid excess idling if you are caught in traffic, turn the engine off if it is safe to do so.
When using the air conditioner, set it to a moderate setting rather than flat out on the coldest setting.
MODERN VEHICLE SERVICE INTERVALS
It’s important to have your vehicle serviced by the book using authorised dealers. They have the equipment and software specific to the vehicle. It is advisable to discuss duration and frequency based on the type of vehicle usage. We recommend having a discussion with the workshop and technician as there are many variables to consider. These include weight being towed and terrain/climatic conditions. From here, you can discuss and decide on any changes to servicing frequency together.
COMMON RAIL DIESEL
Diesel technology leads the race with 20-30% more efficiency than petrol. It is also denser than petrol and contains more energy per volume. This means you burn less to do more. Higher levels of air/ fuel compression give a higher torque output.
Use fuel-buying guides to find cheaper outlets where possible. Supermarket chains have shopper docket deals and loyalty card programs available which save you a few cents per litre. Some small towns offer fuel discounts if you spend elsewhere within the town, so it pays to ask around. Fill up in the cool of the day where possible as fuel expands in warmer temperatures. Also consider the type of fuel and the grade you purchase. Some diesel formulas may be cheaper to buy per litre, but this doesn’t necessarily work out cheaper per kilometre travelled.
Turbo charging isn’t just about power, but also about efficiency. Isuzu uses a Variable Geometry System (VGS). This constantly adjusts to achieve maximum air compression from low RPM and ensures minimal fuel usage throughout the rev range.
VEHICLE SHAPE AND STYLING
Our vehicle range undergoes months of wind tunnel testing. The outcome is an aerodynamic shape that delivers record low drag efficiency figures.
Travelling is all about having a good time and being able to maximise your travelling dollar. It makes good sense to adopt a range of fuel saving techniques to help improve your fuel economy so you can stretch your holiday budget further.