Carrying spare petrol - safe?

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 21:30
ThreadID: 101075 Views:2296 Replies:6 FollowUps:1
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Hi guys,

So, having just received excellent advice from the people here about what emergency comms equipment to carry on a highway road trip from Townsville down to Adelaide, I'd now like to ask about carrying spare fuel.

In the UK and mainland Europe where I've lived for most of my life, I've always carried a 5 litre can of fuel (it's usually been diesel as that's what I've been driving) just in case I got caught out and ran dry somewhere inconvenient.

I'd like to do the same here in Oz, but the higher temperatures worry me, especially as I'll be needing to carry petrol. What are people's thoughts on this? Is my worry about temperature unfounded? (Having the gas bottle in the blazing sun on the front of the trailer gives me the heebie-jeebies, too!)

We'll be towing, so have the option of storing the spare fuel in the trailer rather than in the car, which I imagine many here will think is safer?

What say you all? TIA
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Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 21:44

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 21:44

Many camper trailers have jerry racks on the sides, in front of and behind the mudguards. That's fairly safe, and what I did on my CT before I sold it.

Petrol in racks on the back worries me. Tail-end shunts are too common and the risk is too high for my liking.

Inside is pretty safe, but what about leakages and fumes in a closed environment and nearby switches and other sources of a spark? (Depends on design of the trailer) Also, fumes will smell up soft goods and imperfectly sealed containers (food?).


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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 22:36

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 22:36

If you have concerns that you might need extra petrol, thank about a properly fitted auxiliary tank for your vehicle. Easy and safer than jerry cans. However I don't think you will need to be concerned for highway travel; just ensure you fill often enough to not be at risk of running out if you have to do a bit of back tracking for any reason. If you are going long distances, five litres won't get you far on the scale of things. There are probably more important spares you could consider instead of the readily available fuel.


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Reply By: Rockape - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 05:41

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 05:41
I think some worry about this and look at all the things that may cause a fire.

Have a look at vehicles with gas tanks mounted under the rear of vehicles. Caravans with gas bottles. People ask where should you carry fuel and all they get is. Don't carry it on the rear as you could be hit from behind. Don't carry it inside with you. Don't carry it on the roof as you will be top heavy. All you get is don't and that doesn't solve anything. The old don't tell me what I can't do, tell me what I can do is much better.

Remember there are vehicles carrying upwards of 60 tonne loads of bulk fuel, loads of household gas bottles, acetylene, propane, acid on our roads every day.

So what you can do. Carry it in or on the trailer, make sure it is separated from any source of electrical ignition. Make sure it is restrained and in a quality petrol drum/ jerry can and the lid/lids are tight.

The gas bottles you speak off are made to sit in the sun and be safe. The one you should worry about is aerosol cans, don't they go bang in a big way when they get hot enough in the sun.

As MH said why worry about carrying 5l of fuel as there are plenty of fuel stops unless you are going off road. Just get a map and plan where you will fuel + make sure you allow for the extra fuel usage towing.

Have a good trip

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Follow Up By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 10:49

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 10:49
To add on Rockape's comments

Yes you can carry petrol. Just do it in an approved container not one of those little lawnmower round tins. Use a purpose made jerry can.
If you can avoid having it inside where the passengers will sit the better. Nobody likes to smell petrol fumes. There shouldn't be any from a purpose container but if you have used it recently there might be some residual smell on the outside.
As to where you put it on the outside.Well the only real place is on a rear mount rack or roof if you don't have a trailer. Just make sure they are secured in a purpose made mount rack. Not just tied down with a string or a one ratchet tie of the middle. It may look tight but after some vibration and a sudden stop like someones rear end it can slip out from under a ratchet tie down.
I once met a guy who had a tyre on the roof and overshot a corner on the Tanami track resulting in a sudden stop against a whiteant mound. The tyre secured down with one bolt sheared off and dissapeared into the light knee high scrub. They never found the tyre.
On a trailer, well anywhere you can fit it. Again make sure it is secured with metal bracketing with padding so on corrugation nothing is going to wear.
As for gas bottles - during the recent bush fires in the eastern states quite often the only thing left is the gas bottles. They are very tough. If they are on the front just have a stone guard. You should have a mesh hanging off the front to stop rocks taking out your back window anyway.
I have carried a metal jerry can with me camping for ages. I have it secured so it doesn't rattle or rub. It is for petrol for the generator.


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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 11:08

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 11:08
If you are staying on the blacktop you should have no need to carry extra fuel. To be sure, get a some decent maps (you should be carrying them on your trip anyway) that shows where fuel is available. All roadhouses on main roads will have both petrol and diesel. If they are further apart than your vehicle will go on full tanks then you know that you need to carry extra.

But as MH says 5l probably wont be much use. Get a proper 20l fuel container, either plastic or metal. We frequently carry fuel (petrol) either on our roof or on the back of the trailer - but that is for remote travel off the bitumen. Yes there is an element of risk, but so is just leaving your home. I think you mentioned that you had children, in which case I would not carry fuel in the vehicle.

I agree with RA, use containers that are designed for their purpose (gas, fuel etc) drive sensibly and you should not have any problem.

When driving long distances we have a rule of thumb that says don't pass a source of either fuel or water without topping up the tanks.

I think that coming from the UK you may have a bigger problem managing you water use than your petrol use. You will find it hot, and you will need to be very careful about not getting dehaydrated. Carry plenty of water and use it wisely.


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Reply By: Batt's - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 12:46

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 12:46
Why not get some proper lockable jerry can holders fitted to the trailer just in case you see a side track you want to check out it will give you peace of mind knowing you have a decent safety margin don't forget a funnel or spout for the fuel.
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Reply By: rooster350 - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 13:55

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 13:55
On our last trip to Darwin and down through W.A. there were times when we pulled into servos to fill up (dual fuel) and diesel powered vehicles were waiting for the supply truck to come in as the servo had run out of diesel , this time coming up we are in a diesel powered vehicle and will be carrying spare supplies...cheers
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