If you spend a lot of time on the road in your RV, fuel costs can get pretty high. Improving your RV’s gas mileage means you can get more miles per gallon and your fuel costs will be manageable. Part of the appeal of RVing is that it is a cost-effective way to vacation without added hassle of hotel bookings, airfares and time restrictions.
Since you need gas to get anywhere in your RV, your gas mileage should be one of your primary concerns.
What Gas Mileage Should You Expect From Your RV?
If you own a class A motorhome or RV, then you should be prepared to deal with higher fuel costs compared to the class B and class C motorhomes. Gas mileage is significantly impacted by gross vehicle weight. This means that class A motorhomes, which are the largest and heaviest of the three types of RVs, will naturally require more gas due to their massive size.
On average you should expect to get roughly 7 to 13 miles per gallon from your class A RV, which is much lower than the 18 to 25 miles per gallon you would get from a class B.
Class B motorhomes get the best RV gas mileage of the three types of RVs owing to their weight and shape. The sleek design of class B motorhomes effectively minimizes wind resistance which, in turn, reduces the amount of force the vehicle needs to move. The light weight of class B RVs also means that the engine can power and pull the vehicle more easily than an engine powering a class A motorhome.
Class C motorhomes are heavier than class B RVs, so while their gas mileage is much better than class A RVs, they are not as fuel-efficient. On average you will get about 14 to 18 miles per gallon.
If you are renting an RV for your camping trip, you should choose a class B or class C RV since they generally have better gas mileage. However, for those who own or would prefer the larger capacity of a class A motorhome, there are still plenty of things you can do to improve your RV gas mileage.
How to Improve RV Gas Mileage
When it comes to gas mileage, it’s important to understand what factors affect it.
1) Gross Vehicle Weight
Traveling in an RV is fun since you get to take your home on the road with you. However, the heavier your RV is, the worse the gas mileage you will get. This is because the engine has to work harder when there is a heavier load to pull. Resist the urge to carry everything and pack light. Anything you pack in your RV adds to its overall weight, so limiting what you take will help make your RV more fuel-efficient and improve the gas mileage.
When it comes to how you drive your RV, always remember that you get the best mileage per gallon from your RV at moderate speeds, not when you are speeding. Stick to about 60 mph, which is the best speed to get the maximum mileage per gallon out of your RV. Fuel efficiency decreases 7% for every 5 miles per hour that you go over 65.
3) Rough driving
Just like speeding, rough driving puts more pressure on your engine and reduces the average miles per gallon. While you will encounter some rough roads from time to time, researching ahead of time to find out the best routes for your RV can save you the trouble of driving through rough roads.
Rough roads will not only cost you more in terms of gas, but it will also cause more wear and tear to your RV in general. Research your destination beforehand to find out if there are recommended routes for RVers that will be gentler on your rig.
4) Use Cruise Control
When you are traveling, especially over long distances, using your RV’s speed control will help keep the speed steady. Fluctuations in speed pull harder on the engine and reduce your fuel efficiency. Whenever possible, set your cruise control and let the RV maintain a steady pace that will also improve your gas mileage.
5) Keep your RV well-maintained
A well-maintained engine will run more efficiently and cost you much less in terms of gas. Regular maintenance of your RV is therefore key if you want better mileage. If you only take out your RV once in a while for the odd camping trip, it is easy to let the service slip. However, this will only end up costing you more in the long run, so stick to a regular maintenance schedule and always check your RV before long trips.
Make sure you keep up on
- Engine check-ups
- Oil, windshield wipers, radiator, power steering, and brake fluids all need to be checked regularly and changed when necessary.
- Always check the oil before setting off in your RV. The oil keeps your engine running smoothly which in turn results in better RV gas mileage.
6) Maintain good tire pressure
It is easy to neglect this part of your RV, but did you know that underinflated or overinflated tires can reduce your RV’s mileage? When tire pressure is too low, the RV has to work harder to get traction and pull its weight, meaning more gas is consumed. Similarly, when your tires are overinflated, the result is a rough ride which will also affect fuel efficiency.
Always check your tire pressure and ensure that it is the right inflation for your RV’s weight. Use your RV’s inflation table to guide you on just how much pressure you need for your specific RV. Old tires should also be replaced to make the RV easier to handle and improve mileage.
Check your tires before any trip as a safety measure and to keep your mileage at its optimum.
7) Keep your RV balanced
When loading your rig, make sure the vehicle is balanced out. Do not put too much weight on one side. Balance out the weight in the front and back as well as on the right and left side of your RV. A well-balanced RV is not just easier to handle on the road, but it also promotes fuel efficiency.
8) Use Air-Conditioning in Moderation
Air conditioning will not affect your RV gas mileage significantly, but it will cost you about a mile per gallon. If you typically run your AC on full blast, try turning it down a few notches to reduce the amount of power your AC unit is consuming. Alternatively, you can always turn it off and roll down your windows, especially if the weather is not too extreme.
9) Avoid idling your engine
An idling engine may not consume a lot of gas, but if you make a habit out of it, it does put a dent in your fuel efficiency. Turn off the engine when you park your RV, and if you can, avoid rush hour traffic as the stop-and-go style of driving required in high traffic situations is quite costly in terms of how much gas your RV will use.
10) Diesel Gives you Better RV Gas Mileage
Diesel-powered RVs are generally more fuel-efficient. If you are looking to buy a motorhome and are concerned about fuel costs, it may be worth checking out if your favorite model comes with a diesel option.
On average, diesel fuel provides approximately 15% more energy than normal gasoline. This means that a diesel-powered motorhome will have better mileage than a motorhome that uses unleaded.
Tips for Saving on Your RV Fuel Cost
Get a fuel finding service
A fuel finding service helps to scan your area and guide you on where to get the best fuel prices. Most discount RV communities will have a fuel finding service, so try and find one in your area. You will get a lot of handy tips on saving from these communities, which is always good if you are on a budget.
Do not fill up on weekends
Gas prices tend to be higher on weekends in most areas, so if possible, fill up your RV during the week. While small price changes may not really make a big difference in small vehicles, when you are filling up an RV, every penny saved per gallon will ultimately translate to a considerable discount.
The better RV gas mileage you have, the more money you have to spend on your camping adventure. Simple measures like keeping your RV well maintained and planning the smaller details, such as when to fuel, can save you quite a bit in fuel cost. Do not let rising fuel prices put a crimp on your RV adventures; keep your RV’s gas mileage at its best by following the tips outlined above.