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After you purchase a new (or used) RV, be it a motorhome or trailer, the most costly item needed to move it down the highway is the fuel that makes the motor run.
Maximizing your RV’s fuel mileage is important beyond the financial savings that you will experience.
For example, the farther you’re able to go on a gallon of fuel will reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses expelled into the atmosphere. Therefore, doing what you can to reduce your carbon footprint means you’re doing your part to help sustain our planet.
Here are some tips for getting the most from your RV fuel dollars on the road…
The first step is to have your RV in the best running condition it can be in. Get your RV tuned up and keep it well maintained.
Regular servicing can increase your mileage by 20%. If you’re ignoring that check engine light which may be indicating your emissions system isn’t operating properly, you could be wasting as much as 40% of your fuel dollars.
Maintaining proper air pressure in your tires is critical on large motorhomes. Proper inflation means the wheels roll down the road with less resistance. With the large wheels and heavy weight found on Class A motorhomes, overcoming rolling friction is a big deal.
Where you drive is as important as how you drive. Freeway travel at +70 mph will consume a lot more fuel than taking the secondary roads and staying nearer to the 55 mph mark. That extra 15 mph means the motor is running at a much higher RPM and consuming your fuel at a much faster rate. Slow down and smell the roses; a light foot on the throttle can make a big difference in your wallet.
How you drive is equally important. Avoid stop and go traffic, jack rabbit starts from the red light, and passing just because you can. Let the other guy blast around you; he can give the highway patrol something to do. Let him clear the path for you when you motor by as the officer is writing him a ticket!
Whenever possible, use the cruise control. Let the motorhome maintain a smooth even pace for you. Even when traveling at a reduced speed, the cruise control can make the trip more relaxed and enjoyable. However, cruise control is not recommended on hills and winding roads.
Idling eats up more fuel than you probably realize. By shutting the engine off during times that you’re sitting still, the savings will let you make it farther down the road before you need fuel again. The next time you’re stuck waiting for that mile-long train to cross in front of you, keep this in mind.
Where you buy your fuel can make a significant difference in your fuel cost too. If you fill up at a gas station located conveniently on the edge of town right at the freeway exit, you will likely be buying the most expensive fuel for miles around. They know full well that the average customer coming down the freeway isn’t going to bother driving into town, so they bump up the price accordingly.
When you buy your fuel can even make a noticeable difference in what you get for your money. Fuel is denser when it’s cold, so when you fill up from underground tanks in the morning before the heat of the day has had the opportunity to expand the fuel, you’re getting more gallons for your money. It’s a small difference, but over time it can add up. This is more noticeable the farther north you go.
One of the easiest ways to save on your fuel expense is to make use of the Internet. Sites like Gas Buddy can point you to the cheapest fuel in any area of the U.S. or Canada before you even start your engine.
It may even be possible to plot your whole trip around the price of fuel! Some states have dramatically cheaper gas prices than others; gas in states like Missouri and Oklahoma is much less expensive than, say, in California. At Cost To Drive, you can see how much your entire road trip will cost. Simply enter your departure and arrival cities, followed by basic information about your vehicle, and you can see the total amount you will be spending on gas for this trip.
Getting the most out of your fuel dollars is a simple matter of preparation and planning.
The sacrifices needed to maximize your f
uel dollars are incidental when the whole picture is taken into consideration. The biggest alteration is usually to take a more relaxed and laid back approach to traveling. Sounds like a pretty good trade off to me.
And finally, be smart. What you drive and how you drive it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to saving a few dollars at the gas pump:
And on that note, here’s a similar example appropriately titled, “Negative MPG“.
I’ve been involved in RVing for over 50 years — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs and motorhomes. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller… you’ve got a good idea of who I am. To date, I've shared my RV knowledge in over 300 articles here at The Fun Times Guide!