Oom Frikkie thought he was way ahead of the game: he had fitted a 200-litre auxiliary fuel tank, so he only needed to refuel every 2 000km. But then he went to the Central Kalahari Game reserve in Botswana – and ran out of petrol. His amazing fuel tank had sprung a leak, leaving Oom Frikkie (and auntie Berryl) in a pickle…
So there was Oom Frikkie, elaborating in great detail about his bakkie’s amazing 2 000km range around the camp fire. And there, the next day, was Oom Frikkie, slightly red in the face, stranded on a sandy track in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve – with no fuel left to power his lorry.
See, Oom Frikkie’s super-duper 200-litre auxiliary fuel tank had been installed in great haste ahead of the well-travelled bakkie’s departure for Botswana. Somewhere along the line, the contraption had sprung a leak. And all of Oom Frikkie’s expensive petrol had been redistributed throughout the Kalahari.
Yes, we know this is not very cool at all from a conservation point of view, but this is just an example, and such unfortunate incidents do happen.
So, what could (and should) Oom Frikkie have done to prevent such a catastrophe?
4×4 Mega World’s Kurt Brunner says:
Well this is an interesting scenario, since long-range tanks don’t normally give problems. What I have encountered over the years is that a second tank normally leaks due to a fitment issue or perished piping. One factor to consider is oversized tyres, as most second tanks are fitted above the spare wheel at the rear of the vehicle. If you have replaced the OE tyres with wider ones, then the chance of the spare being knocked upwards into the tank as the vehicle bottoms out is quite good. Dune driving is notorious for this. This most definitely can cause a crack along a weld, resulting in a leak.
If you need a second tank installed, do not do it the day before departure. Have it done at least a week prior to going away, as this will allow you to see a possible leak, as well as learn how the fuel gauge has been affected. All vehicles are different, but normally the needle remains in the full position till the extra fuel has been consumed. The range indicator also stays at max for longer.
It is a wise idea to have your tank’s piping inspected once a year or so, as prevention is better than cure. Very few 4x4s need an extra fuel pump installed with the second tank, as they are gravity fed. If you have the pump scenario, then it is not a bad idea to overland with a spare pump. They are inexpensive and can prevent a major disaster. Ask the fitment centre to show you how the tank has been installed, as well as how to solve a problem should it arise. There are also products on the market that can repair a hole in a tank without the need to remove the whole thing. So, once again, be prepared. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
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