For some avid 4WD enthusiasts a simple trek is never enough. There’s nothing better than a multiple day trek where you can get by on a single tank. Many vehicles don’t have this capability unless they have installed a long range fuel tank.
While they may seem like a simple upgrade or replacement to your rig, there is a lot of information out there about them that can be very overwhelming. Even the more experienced and knowledgeable individuals can stumble on all of the information out there. I know I personally found that there are no good concise guides out there to help newcomers when it comes to upgrading to a long range fuel tank.
So, some of you may actually be wondering what is a long range fuel tank. A long range fuel tank is a replacement or extra fuel tank essentially designed to increase your fuel capacity so you don’t have to refuel as often. They come in varying sizes and capacities and are generally made of Steel coated in Alumumim.
Obviously, the above statement is a very basic overview of a Long Range Fuel Tank. To help everyone out, I have done countless hours of research and made the guide below that I wish I had when I started my research. Click on the headings below to jump to a certain section.
What Is A Long Range Fuel Tank
A Long Range Fuel Tank is either a replacement tank for your factory installed tank or an extra auxiliary tank designed to increase the fuel capacity, thus the range of your 4WD. This can have some nice benefit, the obvious one being that you can go further without needing to refill which is great for those big treks and it also has the added benefit of allowing you to fill where and when the fuel is cheapest which for trips like doing the big lap around Australia can pay for your long range fuel tank several times over.
there is some tracks in Australia in which there is a requirement to carry extra fuel (one that comes to mind is the Tanami Road in the WA/NT ) In these circumstances the cheaper alternative is to carry several Jerrys Cans of fuel but you then run into the issue of storing them safely.
Having a Long Range Fuel Tank will allow you to store this required extra fuel safely under your 4WD which keeps the centre of gravity if your 4WD low (Compared to Jerry Cans) and if fuel leaks, it will go straight onto the ground.
What Vehicles Need A Long Range Fuel Tank?
Vehicles that are planning on travelling across a very long stretch of road generally would want a long range fuel tank installed. Due to non-stop travelling on roads with little to no fuel stops it is wise to have extra fuel capacity. Vehicles that are towing heavy loads such as caravans are also advised to install this type of modification as well.
You don’t need a really big vehicle to tow a caravan, it just needs the basic towing capability as well as the fuel capacity large enough to get from point A to point B. That’s why most vehicles that get a long range fuel tank don’t tend to have any other modifications done to their rig. The more mods you make the heavier your vehicle becomes. This ultimately increases your drag and reduces the fuel efficiency of your vehicle.
While you can buy a long range fuel tank off the shelf and install it yourself if your vehicle is unusual or you want something more specific it is recommended that you instead opt for a custom built model. You want to make sure that it tucks nicely into your vehicle being exposed as little as possible to reduce any potential damage.
How Much Fuel Do You Need?
The simple answer to this question depends upon the efficiency rating of your vehicle and how remote you are planning on travelling. Standard vehicles will get you approximately 500kms off of one tank. On top of that, the newer diesel model vehicles tend to get a better conversion rate than their petroleum counterparts especially when they are towing heavy loads.
However, there aren’t too many places in Australia that requires you to travel more than 500km with nowhere to fuel up. But in saying that there are some such as the Cobourg Peninsula road from jabiru in Kakadu or the Tanami road. You don’t want to be pushing the absolute limits of your vehicle.
You should be accounting for other factors such as detours, delays, side trips, strong head winds, hills and any cheeky 4WD tracks you spot on the way. With that in mind, you can use jerry cans but the multiple cans that would take to equal the same amount of an improved tank would be substantial. Hence you will be sacrificing space inside your vehicle.
Different Types Of Long Range Fuel Tanks
Generally speaking, when you are buying a long range fuel tank there are several different types that you can opt to buy. Below we are going to explore these.
Replacement systems aim to do what their name entails which is replace your current system for something that is better. The increased fuel capacity of these units can simply bolt into where the original was. For dual cab utes, it is estimated that the replacement system can increase the capacity of the previous unit by up to 100 percent.
These tanks are designed to adapt to all other features of your vehicle while utilising the standard fuel gauge and pump and fill installation kits. They can also have an extra feature for a draining plug so you can easily remove any contamination that makes its way into your tank.
These systems work by pumping fuel from an external tank into the main tank. All you have to do to refuel your tank is to flip a switch and wait for it to be fed to your tank. They have a LED to show what the level of the auxiliary tank is at all times. This allows drivers to be fully aware of how much fuel their vehicle has and can be potentially lifesaving when you are planning on travelling long distances. When your auxiliary tank becomes empty there will be an automatic alarm that goes off to let you know to switch the pump off. This will stop the pumping from pumping nothing into your main tank and thus causing a failure. When you purchase one of these tanks all of the parts for this feature to work should be included.
An independent system works as a changeover which means when your main tank becomes low or empty you can simply flip and switch and start using the secondary tank. This allows you to evenly use the fuel from both tanks while you are on the road. It is however up to the driver to manage this and is their responsibility. Many Land Cruiser 79 series and 100 series run this fuel tank system. From such you know it is a good system and is very effective in doing what it is designed for. Additionally, all of the parts to help with the tank switching should be included when you purchase the tank.
Auxiliary vs Replacement Long Range Fuel Tank
As mentioned in the types of tanks you may have noticed that there is a distinct difference between auxiliary and replacement units. We will attempt to go into more detail about each one in this section.
Auxiliary tanks work in tandem with your main tank as to top it off when you need the extra fuel. Many people opt for this type of tank purely because of how easy it is to use as well as being able to remove any contamination that may enter your tank.
Replacement tanks are what the name says, they are a bigger tank that replaces your previous one. Generally they are a bigger capacity as what would be the point in changing it in the first place if you are going to go with the same size.
The dimensions and weight of each model will differ depending upon what brand you are deciding to invest in and from such you should be aware of this size when you are making your decision. You should be giving yourself enough room so that it won’t hang out while you are driving.
Understanding The Auxiliary Lights
We mentioned previously that auxiliary tanks comes with a LED light dashboard that displays how much fuel is available as well as the pumping status of the tank. You probably already know what I’m talking about if you have used one of the systems before but for those who haven’t seen one I will try to explain.
The dashboard is a small circle with several LED lights in a line. This is to indicate the fuel level in the secondary tank. The green lights depict the rough level of the tank when it is mostly full. When it starts to get low they will not shine to mimic the level in the tank. When there is one green, yellow and red LED light on that indicates that the tank is half full. When it is empty only the red light will be on and an alarm will sound to let you know.
There is a secondary light to the left of the unit that is to indicate to the driver when the fuel is being pumped from one tank to the other. It should be yellow and will be a solid colour when the fuel is being transferred. You should always turn off the pump when you don’t need it as using it for prolonged periods of time in one sitting can burn them out. There’s nothing worse than planning on going for a trip only to find that your pump has burnt out.
Next to the LED light strip, there should be a button. This is the button that is used to start and stop the pumping of fuel from your secondary tank to your main. Again when you push this button and the pump is engaged, the light on the left will emit a solid yellow colour. These units should be included with your purchase. If it is not there be sure to contact the seller so you won’t be left in the dark.
Will A Long Range Fuel Take Affect My Ground Clearance
With that last point in mind, you need to take into consideration the ground clearance of your long range fuel tank when you are installing it. If it is hanging too low you run the risk of debris or a rock hitting it while you are driving. This can cause massive damage to the system and ultimately result in a lot of fuel loss. To ensure that this doesn’t happen you should be looking at the dimensions of the unit so you can calculate the desired ground clearance.
You can check with the manufacturer what the recommended ground clearance is. Additionally, if you decide to make the purchase in person you can speak with a store clerk about the particular model you are going for and if it is alright to go with your vehicle. They have countless years of experience and expertise in the field to know when something is going to fit or not so be sure to ask.
Knowing The Impact Limit
If you are purchasing a long range fuel tank from a professional and trusted manufacturer they have more than likely impact tested the unit. Impact testing refers to knowing the amount of force something will break and having labels and warnings to showcase the results. Safety is your number one priority on the road so it is important to know what your vehicle can withstand as to not cause any serious damage.
The units would have been put under an insane amount of pressure and stress so the fail point can be determined. The company will then be able to place a warning what that amount is so you can avoid doing anything that would replicate such force.
Additionally, when you are buying from a credible source or brand you will find that they will dispose of any faulty units that show even the slightest sign of weakness. That includes showing any signs of splitting or potential hazard during the impact testing. With this information as well companies are able to improve upon their previous models and designs to bring greater impact resistance to newer products. The testing isn’t just good for safety but also the improvement and advancement of these products.
What Materials Should I Go For In A Long Range Fuel Tank
How much force a unit can withstand also depends upon the material that it is made out of. With that in mind, manufacturers aren’t making these tanks with the intention to scim on material costs. They choose the highest of quality materials so that they are built tough and to last. The best of the best products are made from steel that have been coated in 2mm of aluminium.
I have looked in store and online through countless numbers of brands and all the best are made from this material. This is the case because it is the most durable and resistant to impacts while also providing you with a safe tank to store a flammable substance.
Additionally, when you purchase a tank of this magnitude you don’t really want to shell out the extra cash to get guards installed. The steel coated with aluminium gives you that extra resistance and slickness that you would want from a new fuel tank for your vehicle.
What Features To Look For On A Long Range Fuel Tank
As with a lot of products on the market, if you are willing to spend a little bit extra you can get some bonuses that the base model does not have. If you are investing in a long range fuel tank it may be beneficial to spend just a little bit more to make the biggest bang for your buck. There are a lot of extras out there when it comes to long rang fuel tanks and we are going to list just a couple.
We spoke about drain plugs previously but did not emphasise how good they are. While some tanks may come with them already equipped other brands and companies may require you to spend a little bit extra to get them installed. If that is the case they are definitely worth the investment as they can help drain your fuel tank to get rid of any contamination that may be in there. This is exceptionally good for those who like to go off road and may run into a couple of dings along the way.
Similar to drain plugs, having rare earth magnets equipped to your long range fuel tank will allow you to catch any contamination that is in your tank. The magnets however will be able to catch those pieces of metal that are floating around in your fuel before they make it to the engine.
They can potentially be rally harmful to your engine so catching them is an easy way to look after it. Just think about a couple of extra bucks to save you a whole new motor. If that isn’t a good investment I don’t know what is.
2mm Aluminium Plated Steel
Additional to the other extras you should be looking out for, we briefly touched on the material that should be used. While many brands tend to go with the steel that is coated in the 2mm aluminium others may not. There are a whole bunch of people on this planet and trying to group them into one category may be difficult.
While it is definitely the best material it can be expensive from such there are cheaper alternatives out there for people who want more fuel but can’t afford the aluminium coating. If however, you do have the budget for it you should definitely go with this material. It is stronger and gives your tank more durability meaning that it will last longer.
Who Are Some Long Range Fuel Tank Manufacturers
There are many different long range fuel tank manufacturers that are able to provide their products to the Australian region. Each brand obviously comes with their own set of merits and drawbacks but at the end of the day, people make their decision based off of preference.
If they have a friend who used a similar brand chances are that they will go with that choice over a brand they haven’t heard of. Below we are going to list a couple of different manufacturers that are able to supply their products to people in Australia on a national basis.
Strongarm have a wide range of long range fuel tanks to meet the needs of every 4WD enthusiast. They offer both auxiliary and replacement models so no matter what your personal preference is in that matter you are sure to find what you are looking for.
Their products come with drain plugs, magnets and factory hoses to ensure that you are getting the best product on the market. Additionally, they are also made from the steel that is coated in 2mm of aluminium. As we mentioned before this particular material will give you the best bang for your buck.
If you are after the best quality of products then you need look no further than Brown Davis. This brand is engineered with perfection to give you one of the best line of products on the market. They use the high quality 2mm aluminised steel that the best products use as well as a very comprehensive blue print so you know what you are buying. Their website is packed full of information that allows you to see each individual part of the product as well as look at the tweaks that they have made to give them a competitive edge.
The Long Ranger prides themselves on manufacturing fuel and water tanks that are durable and simple to use. Each of their products is designed and engineered for the maximum results and ground clearance so you don’t have to worry about any bumps along your journey, The Long Ranger also constructs their products out of the 2mm aluminised steel to ensure that your tank is both shock resistant and corrosion proof.
If you are worried that your vehicle won’t fit the standard one tank fits all kind of deal when you are buying off the shelf, The Long Ranger tailor their products to suit your vehicle. That means you get to decide on how much extra capacity you are getting as well as letting their team determine the maximum ground clearance that you can get.
ARB is so good at producing some of the best long range fuel tanks on their market that they don’t restrict themselves to only operating in Australia. While they are able to ship one out to you fast and efficiently, they are also equipped in shipping their products on an international scale to help you out no matter where you are going.
Each tank is individually pressure and shock tested to ensure that you are getting what you are paying for and that is a product of the highest quality.
Installing a Long Range Fuel Tank
The installation process for long range fuel tanks is to mount them underneath the vehicle between the two axels. While it sounds relatively straight forward to do, the task itself still takes around 2 to 3 hours to complete. Additionally, if you are installing an auxiliary unit it will take even longer. These units are more involved as they require a pump and the wiring to also be installed along with the tank.
A lot of experts claim that it is relatively easy to fit replacement tanks at home if you have the right tools. Auxiliary tanks, on the other hand, are recommended to be left to the professionals. There is a lot more than can go wrong with these units and hence why you should seek professional experience and expertise.
Can You Install Long Range Fuel Tanks Yourself?
There are two main categories of long range fuel tanks which are auxiliary and replacement. Replacement tanks simply replace your current one for a larger one. They are fairly easy to do at home if you have the right tools. Auxiliary tanks, however, are a bit harder as you also need to do some wiring and install a fuel pump. From such a lot of professionals claim that if you are opting for an auxiliary pump you should leave it to them.
How Big Is The Fuel Tank In A Hilux?
When people are looking at long range fuel tanks that automatically want to know what their capacity is in comparison. Hilux vehicles are very common for 4×4 units and hence why we are here to help. The average tank size is 80 litres and has a benchmark capacity of 3,500 kilograms according to the 2018 Hilux review.
Can You Use Diesel In Long Range Fuel Tanks?
If your system uses diesel fuel you will want to be using diesel in your long range fuel tank. That goes the same for unleaded run vehicles as well. Both fuels are fine to go in the tanks but you should ensure that you aren’t mixing the two otherwise it could have serious effects on your vehicle. Most 4WD vehicles use diesel anyway which is why you will see many long range fuel tanks filled with diesel.
What Are Transfer Tanks Used For?
Transfer tanks are a different type of long range fuel tank that differs slightly from the two main types. While traditional auxiliary models hold additional fuel which can be transferred to the main, transfer tanks can be used directly. Think of it as an additional tank that you can flip a switch and use when one starts to get low. Unlike auxiliary as well you can decide to use both tanks equally rather than let one run completely dry.
What Is A Slip Tank?
There are many different names for fuel tanks that you may not have heard of. Slip tanks are just another name for a regular fuel tank. Brands develop their own special line of tanks and might call them other things so if you come across different types of tanks it is more than likely that they are just a brand name.