How to improve your 4WD fuel economy
February 19, 2020
With the price of petrol always increasing, being fuel-efficient is more important than ever. 4WDs are typically heavier vehicles with bigger, more powerful engines, and almost always use more fuel relative to a sedan. Following these tips might help you put petrol in your car a little less often.
Impact: A typical sportscar has a sleek, streamlined design that allows wind to easily flow around it, boosting its straight-line speed. Most 4WDs, in comparison, tend to have bulkier, boxier designs. This adds wind resistance or ‘drag’, and means you’ll need to use more petrol to achieve your normal cruising speed.
Tip: Consider the wind resistance of the accessories you have fitted to your car. Roof racks and cages, snorkels, bullbars, and sidesteps can all cause drag which slows you down, meaning you have to push the accelerator harder to maintain speed. If you regularly use these accessories then keep them on, but if you don’t need them consider removing them.
Impact: 4WD tyres range from highway terrain to all-terrain tyres and mud-terrain tyres or ‘muddies’. Each tyre gets progressively less fuel-efficient as the tread becomes chunkier and specialised for off-road grip and performance. If your 4WD is fitted with muddies, expect a lot of road noise and lower fuel efficiency compared to highway tyres. The trade-off is a far superior grip when driving through the soft sand around the beach entrance and less time digging yourself out of the sand.
Tip: Unless you spend a lot of time off road or driving on the beach, choose tyres that are rated as a highway tyre or an all-terrain tyre suitable for both on and off-road conditions – do some research.
Impact: Large 4WDs may be able to tow 3,500kgs, more than doubling its curb weight. This, unsurprisingly, means using more fuel. Multiply that by the distance traveled, and excess fuel use is going to add up.
Tip: To reduce fuel consumption when towing, consider lowering your speed. You are looking for the optimum rev range for your vehicle and load. Driving at too high revs and you’re getting diminishing returns. Too low revs results in burning excessive fuel. Expect to be in the range of 90-95 kms and between 2000-3000rpm, however, every 4WD and setup is different.
Impact: A day out 4WDing along Stradbroke Island is going to quickly drain your fuel tank. The soft sand means often having to rev harder over shorter distances.
Tip: If you’re planning a big day out, the best advice here is to ensure you leave with plenty of fuel for the trip, and even consider if a spare long-range tank or backup jerrycan of fuel is an option.
Impact: Accessories cause greater wind resistance and increase the weight of your 4WD. Be wary of other accessories like a second fuel tank or an auxiliary battery, as well as a second spare tyre or full use of the boot. You may be carrying an extra 100kgs in addition to any other non-removable accessories that add to the original weight of your 4WD, like bullbars or side steps.
Tip: Check your car for any unnecessary accessories that are weighing your car down and remove them.
Impact: If your 4WD is revving too high, not tuned correctly, or has some other issue, it’s possible you’re burning more fuel than is necessary.
Tip: Keep your 4WD regularly serviced by an expert mechanic to help you save on fuel costs. Plus, do so has the added benefit of maintaining the overall safety and reliability of your 4WD