The Full Story

The Full Story

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
29 Mar 2013

Petrol tank capacities have remained the same, even though fuel economy and engine performance has improved by leaps and bounds. With some diesel cars carrying enough fuel to make a return journey to Penang, it begs the question; why do cars that make pretty short journeys running day-to-day errands need such marathon-ish capacity? I can appreciate why Land Cruisers and Range Rovers have cavernous fuel tanks, as they venture into the Amazonian unknown. For road trips in far-flung corners of the world, a full fuel tank provides a sense of reassurance until the next petrol station appears on the horizon, a sort of proverbial lifeline in desolate landscapes. However in an urban environment with aids like GPS, Google Maps and more travel resources than you can shake a stick at, poor due diligence and a lack of planning simply don't pass muster as credible excuses for carrying a full load of fuel “just in case”.

In the airline industry, fuel loads are calculated down to the last pound. The next time you board a short-haul flight, stop and notice how much more responsive the plane is and how quickly it gets off the ground, as opposed to a plane fully loaded with fuel for a non-stop leg to London. Imagine a BMW 320i with a fuel tank of 60 liters, and having it filled with only 30 liters each time you head to the filing station. With a highway fuel consumption figure of 14 km/liter, one could potter about for a good 420km or so (ten times across the full breadth of Singapore) before having to visit the pump again. Now it isn’t suggested that drivers attempt to stretch their range and drive on fumes (after all, the petrol in your fuel tank is used to cool the fuel pump and it would be rather embarrassing and not to mention inconvenient to have your car stall by the side of the road), but filling up only to half the tank’s capacity is the equivalent of shedding 30 kilos; the weight of a small child or a full week’s shopping.

This can make a large difference if you drive a small or low powered car and, if your car is already fully loaded to begin with. The extra fuel weight diminishes the car’s performance, increases fuel consumption, decreases braking capability and can be potentially riskier in a crash situation in the event of a fuel leak. Car dealers have long been aware of these gains, with test-drive cars having their tanks at no more than the quarter mark so that they feel as fleet-footed as possible.

Try it out for yourself, and let us know the outcome of your real-world testing. Have you experienced performance gains? Unlike new year resolutions, this in one weight loss plan that is easy to implement (unless you have a strange aversion to petrol kiosks), and the results are instant.


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