We were well into a four-day drive through Death Valley. Our trip had taken us across the Slate Range of the Iyno Mountains into Panamint Valley. From there, we traveled through Gohler wash, and up and over Mengle Pass into Death Valley.
By this time our fuel tanks were about half empty. Up ahead was Furnace Creek, Calif., which I knew had only one gas station. We pulled in, only to realize that the station was out of gas.
Our next option was in the community of Stovepipe Wells. This town was in the right direction, north, but a little out of the way. We set off.
Upon arriving, we discovered that the one gas station was closed due to high winds. Management feared the canopy overhead would blow down. With no recourse, we changed our route and drove to Beatty, Nev. to fuel up. Needless to say, these detours put a crimp in our plans. The extra fuel we carried in cans was a comfort that that we would not run out before finding a viable station. The extra fuel cans by themselves were not sufficient for the rest of the trip.
Get your fuel when you can
This incident was a stark reminder that four-wheeling doesn’t always go according to plan. In this case, we had difficulty getting fuel. Engine fuel, whether gasoline or diesel, is absolutely critical for four-wheeling. All drivers know that, which is why many carry extra fuel in portable gas cans. By its nature, our sport puts us in remote areas, with long distances between small towns, which also have limited services.
Which brings me to Rule #6: Gas First!
Rule #6 means gas is your first priority when it is available. Fuel up before checking out the convenience store to restock the beer supply. Fuel up before you check out that Dinner for a meal. Fuel up before checking into the motel. Fuel up before the group disbands for the evening.
Fueling up in remote areas is problematic. Gas stations are few and far between. They often offer only one grade of gas (87 octane) and diesel fuel. As discussed above, a station could be out of gas or closed.
A mechanical breakdown won’t necessarily derail a 4WD trip. But a vehicle out of fuel is in real trouble. Don’t assume that the gas station you’re counting on will come through for you.
All vehicles in the group should fuel up together
If you’re the Trail Leader, make a point to lead the group into the gas station. Ensure everyone tops off their tanks even if they need just a few gallons. Those few gallons could come in handy later.
This process is challenging when a group splits up. After a long day of driving, some drivers may want to visit a restaurant or hit the campsite. Some will put off fueling up until the next morning. It is so easy to forget, once you put it off. Encourage everyone to gas first when a station is available. As we’ve seen, you can’t always count on the gas stations.
In addition to being out of gas (as was the case at Furnace Creek), my group once encountered a station closed the next because it had lost power. With no power to the pumps, there was no way to get gas. Those who did not fuel up the evening before, had to wait until mid-day when the power was restored.
Even if drivers are able to gas up the next morning, that stop will delay the group’s departure. Do all you can to have them fuel up the night before.
Some drivers skip the pit stop because they are carrying extra gas. That’s unwise. The spare gas – especially the final can – is for emergency purposes. Perhaps the owner won’t need it, but another driver could.
Four-wheelers are a versatile, resourceful bunch. They know that 4WD trips don’t always go according to plan. A trail is closed, requiring a detour. Campsites are full, forcing you to find an alternative. A particular route may take longer than you thought. These and other issues cause drivers to use more fuel than planned.
When you go off-road, remember Rule #6: Gas First. And top off your tank any chance you get. Because you don’t know what issues a gas stations along the route may face.
# # #
Did you miss the previous articles?
(If you are required to shelter in place this month, I have listed all of last years articles for you to read or reread. Most of the articles are short and a quick read. Once upon a time, I heard a pod cast that cited a study that articles (or pod casts) that the author thought was going to be a dud turned out to be very well received by their audience. And the converse – one the author thought was going to be great received only ho-hum interest. I would be interested in which articles you consider the best last year. Use any criteria you want! – just send me an email.)
- 2020-02-26 What’s The Name Of Your 4-Wheel Drive Vehicle?
- 2020-01-21 Tough Love
- 2019-12-12 6 Nifty Gifts for the Outdoors Person in Your Life
- 2019-11-14 Inspect Your Vehicle – 100 Times+
- 2019-10-13 Are You Keyed UP?
- 2019-09-22 Where is Your Winch Controller?
- 2019-08-30 Be a Guest-Focused Trail Leader
- 2019-07-24 Items That Don’t Belong on a 4WD Trip
- 2019-06-14 Refresh Your First-Aid Kit
- 2019-05-20 Ham Radio Use Off-Road
- 2019-04-25 Four Wheeling Fears
- 2019-03-21 Safeguard Gear, Food from Varmints, Vagrants and Weather
- 2019-02-13 Do You Have a Tire Failure Strategy?
- 2019-01-16 How to Make Great Beef Jerky
Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)
We had to cancel Death Valley, Easter Jeep Safari and the San Rafael Swell. Moab, UT is closed for Easter Jeep Safari.
April 18, 2020 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
April 19, 2020 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
April 25, 2020 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
April 26, 2020 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
May 02, 2020 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
May 03, 2020 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
May 09, 2020 Tire Repair & Hi-Lift Mini Clinic
May 16, 2020 Winching Clinic
May 23, 2020 Memorial Day Club Run
June 06, 2020 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
June 07, 2020 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
June 13, 2020 Starting Rock Crawling
June 20, 2020 Tire Repair & Hi-Lift Mini Clinic
June 26, 2020 Field Day – Info coming soon
July 03, 2020 Independence Day Club Run
July 11, 2020 Tire Repair & Hi-Lift Mini Clinic
July 18, 2020 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
July 19, 2020 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
July 25, 2020 Starting Rock Crawling
August 01, 2020 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
August 02, 2020 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
August 06, 2020 Rubicon Adventure
August 22, 2020 Sand Dune Off-Road Driving – Oceano Dunes
San Rafael Swell Off Road Guide Book & Companion Map
we only have 4 books in stock.
Wavian NATO Military Steel Jerry Can – 20L/5.3 Gallon
Our supplier is out of all 20L can of every color. At last check they only had a few yellow 10L cans.
They expect a shipment of 20L can in May however, I have no firm date to rely on.
We can put them on back order.
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
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Copyright 2020, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.