You’ve heard this one before, I expect, yet it is still often overlooked.
At your next fuel stop, jump out and check your tyres are at the manufacturer’s recommended pressures. An under-inflated tyre will create unnecessary drag on the road’s surface, reducing efficiency and possibly damaging the tyre in the process.
All vehicles are required to have a tyre size placard and most have them in the door jamb or glovebox. These will often have pressure ratings, including a figure that’s relevant when towing. If you cannot find yours then check your tyres, they will have a maximum pressure rating on the sidewall.
Much like under-inflated tyres, an out-of-alignment wheel can cause your tyre to drag on the road reducing efficiency. This is more common on trailers than tow vehicles, which should be inspected regularly (we recommend before a big trip and annually).
Some suspension types require more regular alignment, like the popular AL-KO Enduro range, while simpler suspension such as solid axle leaf arrangements may require less adjustment and be less likely to need realigning regularly. Work with your RV specialist and keep an eye on wear on the trailer’s tyres. If it is uneven, you likely need an alignment and are likely wasting fuel.
LOADING YOUR VAN
Taking weight out of your van will help you accelerate more easily, saving fuel in the process.
Some gear should always travel with you, like a good first aid kit, but if you are not planning on going into the bush, do you need all your heavy recovery gear?
We often see (and hear) caravans with full water tanks coming into holiday parks that offer water to guests. Yes, you should always carry enough water for your intended type of travel but a full tank may be a little excessive if you’re simply moving from one park to another. If you do not need it on the coming trip, leave it at home.
REDUCE YOUR SPEED
Probably the easiest way to save fuel is to reduce your travelling speed.
Aerodynamic drag increases exponentially with speed or, put simply, air resistance increases at around double the rate of speed; a car doing 30km/h has a quarter of the drag as one doing 60km/h.
You should always drive to the conditions and be conscious of holding up other traffic, but a simple reduction in speed will produce the greatest fuel savings.
LOADING YOUR CAR
You might think I am about to suggest you reduce the load in the tow-vehicle and while that will help save fuel, we’re more concerned with what’s on the roof. Often it is easier to secure your bikes, esky or kayak to the roof of your tow vehicle but you are adding on aerodynamic drag costing you fuel as you push through the air.
Ideally, secure your gear inside the van and away from the wind. If you cannot fit something inside, mount it on the van, preferably on the back or on the drawbar, not on the roof. Obviously, you should take care of weight balance and keep within your van’s limits.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Tim van Duyl
Coming from marine publishing Tim now oversees Caravan World and Trade-a-Boat for the Adventures Group as their Senior Editor. With experience garnered from travelling the breadth and width of his home country New Zealand in all manner of ways, his mission is to see all Australia has to offer. Having already sampled Cape York, Murray-Sunset National Park, Wilsons Promontory and the bulk of Victoria’s West, he has plans to add to the small parts of WA and NT already seen. When not on the road you can find Tim passing time at lakes around Australia or in the high country camping with his close friends and family with the Murrindindi a popular spot.