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There are many advantages to traveling the country in a Class A motorhome. You have panoramic views, comfortable seating, and plenty of space! But one thing you don’t get is good fuel economy. Of all the classes of RVs out there, the Class A motorhome is likely the worst in terms of fuel efficiency. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to improve your fuel economy while enjoying the benefits of a Class A motorhome. Let’s break it down:
Average MPG for a Class A Gasoline Motorhome
Depending on size, weight, and other variables, large gasoline-powered Class A motorhomes typically get between 6-10 miles per gallon in ideal conditions. Unfortunately, there are outside factors that can decrease your fuel economy. Hills, strong winds, and poor weather can all play a role.
Average MPG for a Class A Diesel Pusher Motorhome
If you want the perks of a Class A motorhome with slightly better fuel economy (plus a smoother ride and higher-end equipment in general), a diesel pusher is the way to go. Although still not great, a diesel engine is slightly more fuel-efficient than a gas engine. You can expect an average of between 7-12 mpg for a Class A diesel pusher, of course depending on size and weight.
What Affects the Fuel Economy of a Class A Motorhome?
There are lots of things that impact your Class A motorhome’s fuel economy. As we mentioned above, having a gas versus diesel engine is one factor. Diesel engines have a slight edge over gas. However, the added cost of more expensive diesel fuel in much of the country should also be considered. And of course the higher cost of a diesel motorhome itself.
Other factors include the weight and length of the RV. The larger and heavier your RV, the lower your gas mileage will be. You can save weight by bringing less cargo along. You can also save weight by emptying your water tanks before a long drive. Even driving with ¼ to ¾ of a fuel tank can improve gas mileage versus filling all the way up at the pump (but running out of fuel probably isn’t worth running the risk)!
Even the decision to tow a car behind your motorhome can have an effect on your mileage. Very large, diesel-pushers barely notice the weight of a typical tow car. Buf it you have a smaller Class A RV, your towed could be contributing to noticeably lower fuel economy, especially if it’s heavy.
When the weather turns poor, your gas mileage will also suffer. Strong head- or cross-winds can quickly reduce your fuel mileage.
On the other hand, having a tailwind can provide a nice boost. You’ll also have improved fuel mileage when heading down in elevation. Going up mountains in an RV is not fun, but coming down helps even things out!
How Much Gas Does a Class A Motorhome Typically Hold?
Even though a Class A motorhome gets pretty lousy gas mileage, there is a bright side. The large fuel tank means you can travel quite far between fill-ups. (Of course, filling up is always a painful experience).
An average Class A fuel tank typically holds between 80 and 150 gallons. Even at 6 MPG, that means you can still go 480 – 900 miles on one tank! But because the motorhomes with the largest fuel tanks weigh more overall, they get the worst fuel economy, so there’s a practical limit on the range.
As an example, our 43′ diesel pusher gets 7 MPG and has a 150-gallon tank. That means we can drive as far as 900 miles with 20 gallons in reserve, or 1,000 miles with less than 10 gallons to spare (we did that once, and don’t recommend it)!
How to Save Money on Gas for Your RV
Since your motorhome goes through fuel so quickly, using money-saving tips is worth the effort for sure. These tips will help keep your overall trip costs down:
We recommend signing up for fuel discount programs. Many of these are totally free and will save you between 3 and 5 cents a gallon. Most gas stations offer a promotional card of some sort. There are even some credit cards that allow you to earn fuel discounts.
You can also use apps to find the best deals. Our favorite is GasBuddy. This free website, or smartphone/tablet app, can save you money by helping you find the cheapest gas or diesel around. Whatever your fuel range, you can be sure to take advantage of the best fuel price along your route. When you have a 150-gallon tank, that can make a huge difference. Using GasBuddy, we frequently buy fuel without a discount for less than we’d pay with one.
Another tip to save money on gas for your RV is all about timing. Buying gas midweek can save you money. Usually, Mondays or Tuesdays tend to be the cheapest gas days. It depends on the state you’re in. And if you can avoid filling up shortly before a holiday weekend, you’ll also save!
How to Improve Your RV’s Gas Mileage
It makes sense to do everything you can to improve your fuel mileage. Fortunately, you can use some simple tips before and during your trip to do just that:
Keep Up with Maintenance
Regular maintenance improves your mileage. Additionally, it can prevent other costly issues from popping up. Regular oil changes and changing air filters are two ways to improve your fuel mileage in your Class A motorhome.
When trying to improve fuel economy, it’s also very important to keep your tires properly inflated. During both travel and storage, having your tires at the proper PSI is a must. Maintaining the correct tire pressure on road trips noticeably improves your gas mileage. Not only that, but it will keep you safer and help your tires last longer.
RVs aren’t known for their speed. Even so, we have certainly seen our fair share of people hauling down the freeway in their motorhomes. Driving more slowly can significantly improve your RV’s mileage. Aerodynamic drag (i.e. all that wind you’re pushing in front of that huge barn door they call the nose of a Class A RV) is a significant factor… and the faster you go, the worse it gets.
Typically, you’ll get the best fuel economy by staying below 60 miles per hour. And to be honest, this is probably a safer speed for RV travel anyway. So slow down and enjoy the ride! Your wallet will thank you!
Use Cruise Control
Frequently speeding up and slowing down uses more fuel. It’s also obnoxious for anyone unlucky enough to be stuck behind you. The simple fix? Cruise control. Cruise control will give you a smoother ride and improve your fuel economy at the same time.
However, cruise control works best on flat terrain, so it’s less helpful if you’re driving in the mountains. In this case, we recommend going slow and steady up the hills, and coasting safely down the other side (a good rule of thumb is to go DOWN a hill as fast, or as slow, as you went UP it).
Opt for a Diesel RV If Possible
As we mentioned before, diesel engines get better gas mileage than gas engines (even if only slightly). So a simple way to get better fuel economy is by choosing a motorhome with a diesel engine. While this is almost always more expensive, and shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision when choosing a motorhome, it can be considered a bonus perk.
Smaller Motorhomes Will Get Better Mileage
One more pro-tip for saving gas with your Class A RV is to choose a smaller motorhome. Smaller motorhomes are generally more fuel-efficient due to their smaller size and lower weight (not the least of which is that they have less room for you to put your stuff in… saving weight!).
Account for Fuel Costs Before Hitting The Road
Poor fuel economy is definitely a major downside of owning (and driving) a Class A motorhome. But fortunately, there are some simple tips and tricks to improve your fuel mileage. When traveling the country in a Class A RV, make sure you account for fuel costs before hitting the road.
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Even though we're handy RVers, we're not professional technicians. So although we're happy with the techniques and products we use, you should be sure to confirm that all methods and materials are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.