With gas prices skyrocketing across the country, you may be concerned about your next big road trip. And rightly so! You may not know this, but the average RV is driven about 5,000 miles each year.
Some rigs get only 5-7 miles per gallon (MPG), while other very fuel-efficient models can get up to 18-25 MPG. This is important because gas mileage efficiency can save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your RV (and maybe even on one long, single trip).
A member of our RV Lifestyle Facebook community recently reached out to ask for suggestions to improve his RV gas mileage. The community responded with great suggestions, many of which I’ve included here along with more information.
The Cost of RV Driving
Most standard RVs average about 10 MPG. If you have not yet calculated your RV’s MPG or have an upcoming trip that you would like to prepare for, you can use this helpful formula:
- Check your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer says your MPG is.
- Google the average cost of gasoline in the area you are traveling. This matters because the gas price is much higher in California than it is in Florida.
- Map out your entire route in miles.
- Divide the total number of miles by the MPG of your RV. Then multiply that number by the average cost of gas in the region you’ll be traveling in.
How to Get Better Gas Mileage in Your RV – 11 Tips
You can see the full conversation in our Facebook group, but I’ve also summarized the points here. We’re so thankful for a community that’s so willing to share their experiences and offer advice!
1. RV Size
One of the most obvious ways to increase your fuel efficiency is by purchasing a smaller RV. Cheryl Belkin, an RV Lifestyle Facebook member, agrees. She says, “If you want better mpg, you need to go smaller and lighter. Our class B Roadtrek averages 15-16 at highway speeds.”
On average, class A RVs will get about 8-13 MPGs. Class B RVs will average approximately 18-20 MPGs. And Class C rigs usually average 10-15 MPGs. To learn more, read Class A vs. Class B vs. Class C RV: Which is Right for You?
If you already own an RV and don’t want to purchase a different one, there are other things you can still do. We’ll cover those other options in just a sec.
2. Consider Diesel
One of our RV lifestyle members, Greg Cheney, says, “ Diesel will help. (You get) better fuel mileage and towing.”
You can choose to get a Diesel RV in any class and see some gas savings. Overall, Diesel provides about a 30% increase in fuel efficiency compared to regular gasoline engines.
Diesel engines do use a lot more oil than gas, though. So there is a bit of added expense there. But you only need to change the oil once a year or every 15,000 miles compared to every 6 months with a gas engine.
3. Trip Planning
Trip routes matter! Though Jennifer and I love to take back roads on our travels, you get better gas mileage on highways.
If you’re trying to maximize fuel efficiency, select a route that avoids windy roads and intersections as much as possible.
Google maps actually has a setting for this now. It’ll show a little leaf next to the most fuel-efficient route when presenting your route options.
Many other apps, however, try and route you to your destination in the shortest trip possible. But sometimes, these routes can have increased stops or windy roads.
Some routes may be slightly longer but can save you gas because you can drive smoothly and at a steady speed.
Do a little research before you go!
4. RV Maintenance
Be sure to stay current on your RV maintenance. A dirty air filter can decrease your fuel efficiency by about 10%.
A faulty oxygen sensor can be even more damaging by cutting your gas mileage by up to 40%.
By staying on top of your rig’s regular maintenance, you can avoid any hidden gas zappers.
Living the RV Lifestyle?
5. Towing Weight
Towing weight can be a bit complex. While the heavier weight of your RV, items that you pack, and any tow vehicles should affect your mileage, some people claim that they do not see much of a difference.
Some experts claim that your fuel economy decreases about two percent for every 100 pounds of added weight. In other words, the heavier your rig, the less mileage you can get.
This also goes for vehicles (“toads”) that you may be towing.
While this seems logical, several people from our RV Lifestyle community have not had this experience. They have not noticed a big difference when towing vehicles.
6. Tire Pressure
Did you know that maintaining your RV’s tire pressure can profoundly affect your gas mileage? Properly inflated tires can boost up your RV fuel efficiency by up to 3%.
There’s usually a sticker in your door frame that shows what tire pressure you should use. Or, you can check your user’s manual.
Don’t fill your tires based on the PSI number on your tires! That’s the max pressure your tires can hold, not the recommended pressure for your vehicle.
By the way, you should always check your tire pressure when the tires are cold, not after driving.
7. Check Your Oil
Keeping your oil at the recommended level for your vehicle helps maintain the efficiency of your engine. When your engine runs smoother, your fuel efficiency increases.
Keep your oil between the minimum and maximum marks on the oil dipstick to maintain your RV’s performance.
8. Watch Your Speed
Maintaining a steady speed and keeping that speed below the maximum for the road you are on can help with your gas mileage.
Driving too fast can cause your engine to be overworked, needlessly using fuel.
Cary Albiurn, one of our RV lifestyle members, could not agree more. He says, “ The biggest improvement comes with slowing down. The difference between 65 and 70 mph is surprisingly dramatic.”
He is not alone! Franklin Van Wiechen added to his sentiment by saying, “Or 60 mph or even 55 mph. Mileage will improve.”
Our competent RV lifestyle members know a thing or two about velocity and drag, which is precisely why slowing down can help your fuel economy.
Overall, slowing down and maintaining a steady speed can prevent you from braking and repeatedly accelerating, which also zap your gas.
I’ve also heard the suggestion to set your cruise control right when your RPM drops when close to your desired speed. That makes sense to me since your engine isn’t working as hard at, say, 2,000 RPM as it is at 5,000.
9. Don’t Idle
An idling engine can eat up a ton of your fuel. If you make a stop that will last more than a few minutes, you’ll want to turn off your engine.
You also want to try and avoid hitting rush hour traffic in the towns through which you are driving.
Avoiding idling not only saves you money on wasted gas, but over time it can also save wear and tear on your engine.
10. Mind Your Air Conditioner (A/C)
Another tip for increasing your gas mileage is to mind your A/C. Turning off the air conditioner when you do not need it and changing the A/C filters can save you money.
Running the A/C adds strain to your engine, especially when you are traveling at lower rates of speed. That strain equates to more fuel usage.
In addition, replacing your A/C filters can reduce that strain on your engine and increase your fuel efficiency by up to 10%.
That might not seem like much, but combined with all of these other tips, a vast gas-saving!
11. Avoid Rough Terrain
Avoiding rough roads can also end up saving you money in the end. That is because unnecessary braking and acceleration can sap your gas.
This is hard for Jennifer and me because we love to boondock. We find ourselves on rougher terrain a lot. We scan the roads for hazards, drive slowly, and use highways or smoother roads as much as possible.
Your Advice on How to Get Better Gas Mileage
By following these few simple steps, you can prolong the life of your RV’s engine and save a ton of money on fuel costs. Overall, being a smarter driver can make your RV lifestyle a lot less expensive.
Please join the conversation in the RV Lifestyle Facebook group or in the comments below.
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That’s why we’ve created three guides, covering Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.
All together these guides are over 300 pages of content!