Here are 5 great tips to increase your fuel efficiency and save you money on your next caravanning adventure.
Check your tyres
Tyre pressure can have a big impact on fuel efficiency. Underinflated and overinflated tyres can both have a negative impact on fuel consumption. You will find a placard on your tow vehicle and your caravan that will have a recommended tyre pressure. Most tow vehicles have a higher recommended pressure for loaded or high-speed driving — that is the pressure you want in your tyres. Check and adjust the pressure when the tyres are cold, and then check them again once you have been on the road for an hour. It is also a good habit to check your tyres after undergoing dramatic shifts in elevation.
By checking the pressure of tyres you will not only ensure fuel efficiency, but you will prevent your tyres from wearing out quicker than needed and reduce the risk of overheating the tyre and then risking a blow-out. And remember, replace tyres is necessary and make sure they are in prime condition before hitting the road on your trip.
Consider your driving technique
The way that you accelerate and brake can have a big impact on your fuel consumption. Dramatic accelerations from stops and other driving techniques that send your RPMs soaring will drain your fuel tank. By keeping your speed steady, accelerating slowly from stops and keeping your ride smooth you will get greater fuel efficiency.
If have cruise control you will know it is a wonderful thing, but it isn’t very good for fuel consumption. Cruise control is reactive which means that momentum that is lost on inclines is made up for with big throttle inputs. When travelling downhill, many cruise controls are not very good at holding the set speed even when not towing, so are diabolical with a couple of tonnes pushing from behind. Even when driving on flat plains, if there is a headwind the cruise control will try to maintain speed with large throttle inputs which worsens the fuel economy.
Weight is a big factor in fuel efficiency. The more weight you are carrying, the harder your engine must work. There are ways that you can cut down the weight such purchasing your supplies closer to your destination, packing less – don’t take what you don’t need – and filling up water tanks when you get to the destination. By making several small changes you will lighten your load considerably and in doing so make your wallet heavier from the fuel savings.
In addition, an unbalanced caravan will not be as efficient to tow as a balanced one. Where possible keep heavier objects closer to the floor and balance out the load in the front, rear and sides. This will not only save fuel costs, but it will provide a safe and even load for towing.
Be smart when filling up
Fuel prices tend to increase in the lead up to the weekend and over the weekend. You could save big dollars by filling up your tank at the start or middle of the week when fuel prices tend to be lower. It might also be worth considering filling up a fuel tank or two with fuel during the week to top up your tank during your trip. This will allow you to save money by not having to fill up the tank during peak times or in tourist traps where the fuel price can be exorbitant.
There are also fuel finding apps that you can download on your phone to help you find the cheapest fuel. I use MotorMouth to find the fuel prices and help to get the best deal. MotorMouth reports prices for around 4,500 Australian service stations each day and relies on any member of the community to record the price of fuel at a station near them.
Plan your trip
By planning your trip – and keeping to the plan – you can find the shortest and most economical way to get from Point A to Point B. It may be as simple as using Google Maps or there are apps such as WikiCamps that has a Trip Planner function to make things easy.