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Carrying Extra Fuel

How to carry extra fuel in jerry cans on your A-frame. The correct way to fill and store additional petrol.


Jerry Cans

Jerry (or 'Gerry') can containers can be plastic or metal.  They can be purchased in different sizes and widths.  Capacities range from 5 litres to 20 litres.  Remember though the larger ones can be quite heavy to lift to pour.  You will also need either a siphon pump, a funnel or a 3-in-one pourer kit.

Ensure the fuel container complies with Australian Standards AS2906.2001.  Jerry cans may be purchased from boating, camping and fishing stores, hardware, automotive and caravan accessory stores.



Willow Ware Australia Pty Ltd have now designed a rugged plastic 20 litre red fuel can.  It has two longer handles to assist carrying when full and for easier pouring.  The neck diameter of the fuel can has also been increased to allow the filler nozzle at service stations to be inserted into it thereby reducing the possibility of overflow or spillage.  The Willow fuel can has also been designed to suit a standard 4WD rack. Make sure you pick up the smooth sided one as it fits better into a standard jerry can holder.

If you intend to carry separate jerry can containers for different fuels, coded fuel tags should be affixed to the cans.  Leaded (White), diesel (Brown), unleaded (Red) and two stroke (Yellow).

What is the best way to carry extra fuel in jerry cans ?

There is always an element of risk when carrying fuel.

Never carry fuel in your vehicle or store fuel in any living area and if stowed on a trailer or caravan only in rigid, protected and secured positions.

Metal jerry can holders are ideal for securing the cans to your caravan or camper trailer.  As some fuels are combustible upon impact, these holders should not be fixed to the rear of your RV or where it may be susceptible to accidental impact.

If you find it absolutely necessary to carry extra fuel in jerry cans, it is advisable to not carry the jerry cans part full.

Another alternative to carrying jerry cans would be to upgrade your vehicle fuel tank to a long range fuel tank.  Long range fuel tanks are available through outlets such as ARB and Opposite Lock.


Safety and filling jerry cans

Static electricity can build up between the vehicle driver or passenger and the seat and you will often notice you will get a small electric shock as you touch something metal when exiting the vehicle.  This is a static discharge.  If the fuel nozzle is the first thing you touch a spark could ignite surrounding fuel vapours and cause a flash fire. Don’t re-enter the vehicle to retrieve your wallet until after you have completed the fill as you could once again pick up static electricity.

Refueling should not be done in confined areas and the vehicle or any operating machinery should be turned off.  Don't smoke and keep mobile telephones or any likely source of ignition well away from the jerry can or fuel dispensing nozzle. Vapors from the fuel can ignite.

Wait until you can empty the whole contents of the jerry can into your tank, and then after preferably leave the top open for as long as you can, in the sun, to encourage the vapours from the remainder to evaporate and allow the can to dry out.  Allow the empty can to cool down, before replacing the lid and try to keep empty jerry cans out of direct sun and heat.

When refilling the jerry can, refill it to the top.  Air expands about three times as much as petrol, and a part full can will be at a risk of much higher pressure than a full can.  Always open the jerry can with extreme caution holding the opening away from you when releasing the cap as fuel may spurt out.

There is a higher risk of fire when the fuel can is in the back of a vehicle, ute or a trailer than on the ground.  When filling a jerry can here is a general guide of some steps to follow:-

-         make sure you have cleaned the jerry can and removed any dirt inside before your go to the
  service station

-         switch off the vehicle engine

-         touch the metal on your car with your bare hand to discharge any static electricity

-         don’t smoke, use your mobile phone or re-enter your vehicle

-         place the jerry can on the ground as this ‘earths’ the container and reduces any friction

-         make sure you select correct fuel type

-         keep the filler nozzle in contact with the jerry can

-         fill the jerry can slowly to avoid static build up and fuel spillage

-         don’t jam the refuelling trigger on the filler nozzle to keep it open

-     keep watch on the fuel level until the jerry can is full

-     place the filler nozzle back

-     fit the fuel cap back on the jerry can

-     wipe off any fuel spill on the container or ground and dispose of the paper or rag in a safe place 

More information is available on the Australian Government - Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government website under ‘Dangerous Goods’.


If you are considering taking jerry cans on your caravan or camper trailer to Tasmania on the vessel ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ please note they have a policy for the ‘Carriage of Dangerous Goods’.  This policy includes such things as shellite, LPG gas bottles and jerry cans.  Only empty jerry cans can be taken on board and they must be completely dry of any residual liquid.  You should check requirements with the shipping line on their web site and/or with them beforehand.



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