RV Gas Mileage

Deciding to own an RV isn’t just a purchase, it’s a lifestyle decision.

It sets you free to explore anywhere the road can take you while at the same time keeping many of the comforts of home close by.

As anyone who has purchased an RV can tell you, owning a motorhome brings a whole new set of sights, sounds, experiences, and freedoms, but also a new set of things to worry about. Don’t worry, it’s still worth it, but you never know just how important gas mileage is until you own a motorhome.

Since having an RV is supposed to be about fun and enjoyment, and not about stress, we put together a list of ways you can improve your gas mileage. If you follow these simple steps, your RV gas mileage is going to be about as good as it can be. You may even double it in some instances! With these tips in hand, you’ll be able to worry less about the cost of gas and spend more time enjoying the open road.

How Many Miles to the Gallon Does a Standard RV Get?

The average RVer will drive about 5,000 miles per year, which makes fuel consumption an important consideration.

And while the standard RV will average about 10 miles to the gallon, the size of your RV can have a positive or negative impact on fuel economy. As illustrated by the chart below, the larger the rig, the more gas it consumes.

RV Gas Mileage Chart

  • Larger RVs (class A) will consume the most fuel. The average range for this type of motorhome is 8-13 MPG.
  • Smaller class C’s can provide a better rate of 10-15 MPG.
  • The van style class B offers the highest range with 18-20 MPG.
  • Opting for a diesel-powered engine in any size could give you as much as a 30 percent boost in fuel economy compared to its gas engine counterpart.

There are also some other factors to consider when it comes to gas mileage in your RV:

  • Rapid acceleration and braking can lower your gas mileage by 15 to 40 percent.
  • Idling for long periods of time can decrease MPG.
  • Driving at higher speeds will reduce fuel economy.
  • Running electrical accessories, such as air conditioner, can decrease fuel economy by 5 to 25 percent.

While the size of your RV can affect how fuel efficient it is, there are several other factors that influence MPG. We’ve outlined some tips below to help you identify how to get the most out of your RV.

Step 1: Make Sure to Follow Your Service and Maintenance Schedule

Did you know that a dirty air filter can decrease your gas mileage by up to 10 percent?

Even that pales in comparison to a faulty oxygen sensor which can decrease your gas mileage by 40 percent. Using the correct grade synthetic oil can also have an impact on your gas mileage.

There are more maintenance factors to consider including engine tuning. This might seem like a lot to keep in mind, and for most people it is. Unless you have spent significant time under the hood of a car or under a lift in a shop, it is usually best to let professionals handle RV maintenance. Regularly check your service and maintenance schedule and go in as soon as you are due for service. Not only will it decrease your chance of breaking down or having serious engine problems, but it could also give a serious boost to your gas mileage.

The one exception to that rule is tire pressure, which you will need to check regularly yourself. Check your tire pressure even when your tire is not looking low; even small reductions in tire pressure can decrease your motorhome gas mileage.

Step 2: Adjust the Way You Drive

Improving RV Fuel Efficiency

Bad news: I am about to tell you how to drive.

I know, you don’t even let your spouse do that, but I promise these are just small tweaks. And even though they are small, these adjustments can have dramatic results when used together.

First: it’s important to use your cruise control. Accelerating and decelerating are generally bad for gas mileage, and cruise control keeps you doing that as little as possible. All of us think we have a steady foot, but no foot is as steady as a machine that keeps your vehicle at exactly the same speed at all times. At low speeds, you can’t use cruise control, but you can accelerate slowly and evenly to ensure you use as little gas as possible.

Second: spend as little time idling as possible. Think of it this way: Every second you spend idling is a second in which you are using some fuel and getting zero miles to the gallon. Yes, you use a little extra fuel when you start your RV up, but generally, it’s better to shut off your engine if you are going to be idling for more than a couple minutes. This is especially true if your RV has a gas engine, as those use more fuel to idle than a diesel engine.

Third: travel light. I know it can be tempting to pack your entire closet and garage into your RV, just in case, but that extra weight brings down your gas mileage. Regularly go through and see if you have anything stored in your motorhome that you don’t really need to be carrying around with you. You will be giving up a little convenience for a lot of savings in gas money.

Fourth: drive a little bit slower. For the vast majority of vehicles, optimal gas mileage is achieved around 60 miles per hour. For every 5 miles per hour faster than 60 that you drive, your gas mileage decreases by up to 7 percent.

The way you handle your RV can have a big impact on fuel consumption, which might make it more than worth it to adjust some of your driving habits.

Step 3: Adjust Where You Drive

A little bit of planning will go a long way toward saving you money on gas.

Driving in traffic is one of the best ways to kill the fuel efficiency of your RV. Plan to drive as much as possible during non-commute hours and you will save yourself some money in addition to preventing a lot of headaches.

While you are planning, also try to avoid routes with a lot of stop signs and traffic lights — and take advantage of pit stop research tools to get the best prices possible. If you really want to plan the best route, you can even figure out which gas stations you will go to. You can save money by finding the cheapest gas on your route, but if you want to save money, in the long run, make sure you stop at reputable gas stations. They have additives in their fuel that helps your vehicle to run clean. This will reduce engine build-up and improve gas mileage over time.

With these steps in hand, you are ready to get the best mileage out of your RV. Get the best gas mileage you can to stress less and enjoy your motorhome more.

Southeast Financial can help with everything from RV financing to insurance. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.