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How to Optimize Fuel Economy When Off-Road

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Fuel can many times be an issue when overlanding. The adequate amount should be carried to ensure the distance we need to cover off-road is doable. One of the best ways to spend more time off-road and less time in fuel stations is learning how to optimize fuel economy in your off-road vehicle.

This will give you more miles, fewer expenses and keep the polar bears happy. 

Engine Maintenance

 Optimize Fuel Economy with engine maintenance

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Let’s start from the simple stuff, some good old engine maintenance can go a long way when it comes to keeping your engine running as efficiently as possible. A normal service including a new air filter, oil filter, and engine oil will keep your engine as efficient as possible. 

How to Optimize Fuel Economy: Modifications and Fuel Usage 

Rooftop Tent

4x4 with rooftop ten

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A rooftop tent will probably have the biggest impact on fuel economy. It is heavy and will act as a wind brake on top of your roof. 

A 4WD that has a heavily loaded roof is also far more likely to tip over due to the higher center of gravity 

Roof Rack

SUV with Roof Rack

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You knew it was coming didn’t you? This one is obvious, bigger tires have more rolling resistance and are heavier; so, you can kiss your MPG a sweet goodbye.

If your vehicle isn’t geared properly for those tires your MPG will drop even more.

How to Optimize Fuel Economy: Avoid Big Tires

How to Optimize Fuel Economy Avoid Big Tires

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You knew it was coming didn’t you? This one is obvious, bigger tires have more rolling resistance and are heavier; so, you can kiss your MPG a sweet goodbye.

If your vehicle isn’t geared properly for those tires your MPG will drop even more.

Heavy Bar Work

4x4 driving on rocks

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Bullbars and rock sliders are made of steel; therefore, it is expected that the weight these accessories will add is going to negatively affect your vehicle’s fuel economy.

Wind Mirrors

rearview mirror with sunset relected

Upgrading your wind mirrors for bigger ones that provide a better view when towing can be a very welcome add on. However, something as simple as the wind mirrors will add wind resistance and therefore, increase fuel consumption. 

Learn More:

Driving Habits 

How to Optimize Fuel Economy: 4WD VS 2WD 

4wd and 2wd selector switch

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Many believe that staying in 2WD helps decrease fuel consumption drastically. That is not the case though. Of course, 4WD will burn more fuel but the difference is minor. Therefore, whenever you hit gravel roads pop your vehicle into 4WD to ensure you have the most traction available. This will ensure you maintain the tracks while also staying safe.

Speed 

dashboard with speedometer

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I am sure you know that the slower you go the better fuel economy you are going to get. Let’s be honest, 4WDs have the aerodynamic properties of a fridge; therefore, wind resistance at motorway speeds impacts fuel economy even more than it does in normal vehicles.

How to Optimize Fuel Economy: Tire Pressures and Tires

Optimize Fuel Economy: Tire Pressures and Tires

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An all-terrain tire will have less rolling resistance than a mud terrain; thus, it will be more fuel-efficient. 

Regardless of what type of tire you are running, if your tire-pressures are too low for on road driving your fuel economy is going to suffer. 

The opposite is also true though. Overinflated tires on the beach will dig into the sand and you will have to put more stress on your engine to drive through it; therefore, burning more fuel. 

Slipstreaming

Optimize Fuel Economy with Slipstreaming

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Slipstreaming does save fuel, but don’t do it. It’s better to burn a little more fuel rather than marrying your bull bar with your mate’s rear bar.  

How to Optimize Fuel Economy: Cruise Control

Optimize Fuel Economy with cruise control

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Cruise control is set up to maintain a certain speed. Therefore, it will cut speed when going down and will apply throttle when going up. Doing the driving yourself can help save fuel in such situations. 

So, what have we learned from this? Well, making sure that we only install the mods we need will help decrease weight and wind resistance which will increase fuel economy. 

Keep in mind that increased fuel economy usually means you are stressing your vehicle less. So, decreased fuel consumption will lead to an increase of your vehicle’s usable lifespan. 

What do you think? Are there any other areas in which changes can be made to help save fuel? Let us know what you’ve learned in terms of how to optimize fuel economy!

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