The Importance of Choosing the Right RV Fuel Type
Someone who lives full-time in their RV and regularly travels over mountain passes and on rugged terrain will almost certainly make a different fuel choice than someone who plans to use their RV a couple of times per year to travel a few hundred miles to an RV park or campground. Choosing the wrong type for your needs can lead to more breakdowns as well as higher costs over the lifespan of your RV. So, it’s essential to carefully factor in how you’ll be using your RV when you select a fuel type.
Comparison of Diesel and Gas RVs
First, let’s look at some of the basic mechanical similarities and differences between gas and diesel engines. Both use internal combustion, which means that chemical energy (gas or diesel) is converted into mechanical energy (which powers the engine and moves your RV forward) in a series of small, controlled explosions. However, diesel engines are about 20% more thermally efficient and run at a slower revolutions per minute (RPM) rate than gas engines, which means they are more fuel efficient and typically last longer. Gas engines use a spark (from the spark plugs) to ignite a mixture of fuel and air, while a mixture of diesel and air is actually compressed so hard that it explodes without a spark (which is why there are no spark plugs in a diesel engine).
Now, let’s examine some of the major pros and cons for both gas and diesel engines in the context of RVs:
Diesel RV Pros & Cons
First, the pros. Diesel RVs:
Are more efficient, which translates to roughly 20% better fuel economy - diesel rigs often get between 8 and 18 mpg depending on the size of the RV
Typically have a longer range per tank
Have more torque and greater power, which translates to 2-3 times greater towing capacity and a bigger rig with more floor space
Generally require fewer service appointments
Last longer than gas RVs
Have better resale value than gas RVs
Offer a larger gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) which allows for more cargo
Only need oil changes roughly once a year or every 15,000 miles
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However, there are some cons to consider as well:
Diesel is nearly always more expensive than gas at the pump
Diesel isn’t as readily available as gas
Lower RPMs mean slower acceleration and lower top speeds than gas engines
Performance can suffer in cold weather and at high altitudes
Diesel mechanics are harder to find and repairs are typically more expensive
Diesel engines require some specific driving and operation techniques that may not be familiar
They use a lot more oil than gas engines
Gas RV Pros & Cons
And now, here are the pros of a gas RV:
They are typically cheaper to purchase than a comparable diesel RV
Gas is generally cheaper and more easily accessible than diesel
Gas engines are more reliable in cold weather
Higher RPMs allow for a smoother ride, less engine noise, and faster acceleration
It’s easier to find gas mechanics and repairs are often cheaper
They are more similar to driving a normal car
They require less oil than diesel engines
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But, keep these cons in mind:
Gas engines get inferior fuel mileage - often around 6-10 mpg, depending on the RV size
Gas RVs have less towing power than diesel RVs
They don’t last as long as diesel engines
Gas engines require more regular service
The lower upfront cost can be negated by greater fuel, maintenance, and repair costs
They require oil changes approximately every six months
Determining the Right Fuel Type for You
As you can see above, there are many pros and cons for both types of RVs. You may wish to choose a diesel RV if you have the budget to do so, want to prioritize more floor space and greater towing ability, and plan to drive your RV frequently and for many years.
On the other hand, a gas RV might be a better option if you want to spend less up front, don’t plan to have the RV for decades or drive it very frequently, and won’t be covering thousands of miles.
You may find that a new gas RV is about the same price as a comparable used diesel RV. So, if you have a limited budget but want everything to be brand new, you could opt for a gas rig. Or, if you want to maximize the longevity of your rig and maintain a higher resale price, you could choose the used diesel RV.
The bottom line is that there is no single right answer to the question of whether diesel or gas RVs are better, since it completely depends on your personal preference and circumstance. While it’s important to carefully consider all of the pros and cons of each, at the end of the day, the decision is up to you.
Diesel RVs are more fuel efficient and offer greater longevity and resale value, but they are more expensive to purchase, maintain, and repair. Greater torque is offset by slower acceleration and lower maximum speeds. Conversely, gas RVs are cheaper upfront and easier to maintain, but they are less fuel efficient and require more frequent maintenance. It’s essential to consider how you’ll be using your RV as you make the decision about which type is right for you. But, no matter which fuel type you decide on, you can count on finding plenty of new and used options for sale on RVPostings.com—your trusted source for RV shopping.