It’s getting close to go-time, so we are getting the last little bits finished up on our tow vehicle. We used to tow a Jeep Wrangler, but with the length and breadth of our upcoming trip, we wanted something a little more user friendly in all weather. Also, we want to spend some time away from the RV at remote campsites. The Commander is enclosed, so we can crash in the back if the weather gets bad. It also carries more than the Wrangler did, especially since we installed a rack on top.
We also purchased the black bra you see on the hood in this photo, but after a run up I95 to St. Augustine last week, I pulled it back off and sent it back for a refund. Despite being tied down at multiple points, it flapped terribly and I don’t want the paint destroyed while we are on the road. We found a tow blanket instead that I think will be a much better solution for paint protection while towing. Tow vehicles get really dirty if they aren’t protected. I’ll post an update when the new blanket comes in. For now, we’re back to nothing on the front hood.
There are two reasons for installing the roof rack. First, we will need the extra storage for remote camping, especially if we set the back up for sleeping. Second, Bruce had a long-range fuel tank installed underneath the Commander where the spare tire used to sit, so we needed a place to put the spare.
The choice to install the extra tank has been such a good one in so many ways. The factory tank on a Jeep Commander holds 20 gallons. At 14-18 mpg, that gave us a 350 mile range at best, less when I am in the drivers seat…ijs. When we were pulling a trailer behind the Jeep, we were only getting 7mpg. This dropped our range to 140 miles, which means we were pulling over all the time to refuel.
We couldn’t find a solution to the problem at first. Then Bruce found an Australian company that makes custom long range fuel tanks. The tank we ordered for the Jeep Commander added 30 gallons for a total fuel capacity of 50 gallons. This means our new range usually runs around 750 miles before we need fuel. When we are pulling a trailer, we get about half of that…a huge improvement! That is Bruce’s favorite part of the new tank. For me, the biggest bonus is knowing we can head out to any remote site and have plenty of fuel to get back.
You can order one for your vehicle here =====> Long Range Automotive (I am not an affiliate for the company, I just wanted to make it easy to find for those of you looking for a similar solution.)
All we had to do was order the tank and accessories specific to our make, model and year, and wait for it to be shipped. Once we got our kit, our mechanic installed the system for us in a day. The tank sits under the vehicle, so no one even knows it exists and our mechanic said the instructions were straightforward and easy to follow. *One quick note, the fuel hose that comes with the tank got soft after about 4 months in the FL heat, so we changed it out for a braided fuel line a few weeks ago. Now we are no longer having an issue with the fuel line collapsing as the fuel transfers. This is why we had the new tank installed well in advance of the trip. We wanted to work out all the kinks before we got on the road.
It is easy to fill the tanks using the dual fuel port, which can be locked to prevent unwanted siphoning. As you are driving and the main tank starts dropping, you just push a small button and a transfer pump moves the fuel from the auxiliary tank into the main tank at a rate of one gallon every two minutes. I can always tell it’s running properly because when the pump first comes on it is somewhat loud. Within a minute it drops to a level that can’t be heard over normal road noise unless you listen carefully.
When the auxiliary tank gets low the gauge next to the E goes red and you need to make sure to turn off the pump so you don’t run it dry/burn it out. The only thing I would change about the system is WHERE we put the button for running the tank. From the drivers seat you cannot see the gauge, so it is hard to know when the back up tank is getting low. I recommend placing it somewhere you can easily see it while driving.
More about Jeep prep next post….