Here's advice from real RVers on how to get better gas mileage in your RV. It can save you THOUSANDS of dollars…
With gas prices fluctuating 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.
Improving gas mileage efficiency can save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your RV (or even on one long, single trip).
In this article, we're going to share the tips and tricks REAL RVers use to get better gas mileage. At the end, we also share the best RV fuel discount programs and how to find RV friendly stations.
Hey, if you buy something through my links, I might get a little something-something as a thank you. No extra cost to you, promise! Read our full affiliate disclosure here.
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
We have a variety of tips on how to get better RV gas mileage. Some of these tips factor into your buying decisions, while other tips factor into your everyday travels.
Overall, we hope these tips help you save thousands of dollars on fuel! They certainly have the potential to when put into practice.
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
Diesel can support better gas mileage, especially if you're 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.
To learn more, read Gas vs Diesel: Seven Important Truths About RV Fuels.
3. Trip Planning (Plan Smarter)
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. Some routes may be slightly longer but can save you gas because you can drive smoothly and at a steady speed.
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.
HOWEVER! Remember that Google Maps and other mainstream apps don't account for your RV size and weight. That's why we suggest using RV Life Pro to plan your trips and its RV-Safe GPS.
We’re such long-time fans of RV LIFE Pro that we partnered with them in order to save our followers money. You can save 25% with our discount code RVLIFESTYLE.
4. RV Maintenance
Be sure to stay current on your RV maintenance. You'd be shocked by how much it can affect your gas mileage!
- 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%
5. RV & 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”) you may be towing.
While this seems logical, several people from our RV Lifestyle community have not noticed a big difference when towing vehicles. But, it's always worth considering these 9 RV Weight-Reducing Tips.
6. Tire Pressure
Did you know that maintaining your RV’s tire pressure can profoundly affect your gas mileage? Properly inflated tires can boost 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 RV Tire Pressure EVERY Travel Day (Here’s Why!).
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, 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 added to his sentiment by saying, “Or 60 mph or even 55 mph. Mileage will improve.”
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.
(By the way, Is It Safe to Use Cruise Control While Towing an RV?)
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.
12. Join a RV Fuel Discount Program
You can only improve your gas mileage so much. At some point, you'll have to figure out different ways to save even more money.
One of the best ways to do that is to join an RV fuel discount program. These programs and memberships are often free, and can save you an average of 30-40 cents per gallon!
To learn more, read SAVE on Gas & Diesel! (RV Fuel Discount Cards & More).
13. Know How to Find RV Friendly Gas Stations
Not all gas stations are designed to accommodate the specific needs of RVs. And you certainly don't want to have to hop between gas stations until you find one you can use.
RV friendly gas stations often have better pricing or special amenities for RVers. Click here to read the full article: How to Find RV Friendly Gas Stations (5 Apps & More)
Camping can be expensive.
Especially if you are spending more travel time in outdoor spaces. Or, perhaps you’re living and working from your RV.
Traditional campgrounds can also be crowded and noisy. It can sometimes feel like the opposite experience you are seeking by getting away from civilization and into nature.
That may be why you are looking for cheap or free RV camping sites and that’s why I’m here to help. I’m going to introduce you to boondocking in off-the-beaten-path campsites and then teach you how to find them.
This ebook (not a print book – but you could print this one out on your own if you wish) is available right now.
Here's your Ultimate Guide to Cheap or FREE RV Camping Sites