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4 Insider tips for saving on RV fuel costs

| Updated May 31, 2022

In this week's RV Podcast, we pass along some little-known but very effective tips on saving on RV fuel costs. With record-high prices straining everyone's travel budget, these tips from a fuel industry insider are well worth your time.

But there's lots more we talk about in Episode 398 of the RV Podcast, including some geopolitical news that affects RVers, the favorite apps we use on the road and a lively question and answer about when someone may be too old to RV.

To see the video version of the podcast, click the player below.

You can hear it on all your favorite podcast apps or just click the player below to listen right now on whatever device you are reading this.


Saving on RV Fuel Costs

One of our Podcast listeners named Dean sent us these tips.

We found them fascinating.

Here's Dean's note:

I don't know what you guys are paying for gasoline…. but here in California we are paying up a fortune per gallon. My line of work is in petroleum for about 31 years now, so here are some tricks to get more of your money's worth for every gallon:

Here at the pipeline where I work in San Jose , CA we deliver about 4 million gallons in a 24-hour period thru the pipeline.. One day is diesel the next day is jet fuel, and gasoline, regular and premium grades. We have 34-storage tanks here with a total capacity of 16,800,000 gallons.

  • Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening….your gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products play an important role. A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.
  • When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. You should be pumping on low mode, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some of the liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.
  • One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL. The reason for this is the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupies its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Unlike service stations, here where I work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every gallon is actually the exact amount.
  • Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up; most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.

Makes sense, doesn't it! Thanks, Dean!

Our favorite apps for Saving on RV Fuel Costs

 saving on RV fuel costs with certain apps

There are lots of apps out there that help make our RV travels more effective.

Here are the three roadside fuel apps Jennifer and I most use in our travels.

GasBuddy is consistently a top choice for many looking for the lowest price for gas. It is easy to use and navigate. Simply search by zip code, city or state. The huge number of users contribute by updating prices regularly, meaning the app is almost always up-to-date. One unique feature of GasBuddy is its so-called “Gas Price Heat Map” which shows gas price per gallon across the United States and Canada. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Gas Guru is another favorite. The app also has a simple interface with big buttons and large fonts that are easy to read. Gas prices and stations can be sorted in various ways, too by company, types of gas, types of payment accepted, restrooms, ATMs, service stations, and more. A favorite feature of Gas Guru is the ability to get directions to a particular station. The app is free for iOS and Android.

IExit Gas is a good fit for those traveling the intestates. Use the app to find stations near exits that you are approaching, including how far they are from your current location. Find gas stations by name and available fuel type. IExit Gas also provides a map of each exit, making it easier to navigate in an unknown area. The app is 99 cents for iOS.

What are your tips on saving on RV fuel costs?

Share your tips in the comments below!

Missed a few Podcasts? No worries – check them all out here.

Where will you go next?

Mike Wendland

Published on 2022-06-01

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

11 Responses to “4 Insider tips for saving on RV fuel costs”

June 06, 2022at9:33 am, Thomas Moeller said:

Be easy on the pedal, don’t race from a green light, also predict your timing coming up to a light, if it already, or about to be red, take your foot off the gas! Don’t hurry up and wait!!


June 04, 2022at12:16 pm, Robert Garrett said:

I agree with most everyone’s comments about saving fuel. But truly,other best tip I can offer is “SLOW DOWN.” RVs have a huge frontal area and a sharp dropoff in the rear. Those geometries tend to increase drag as you move forward. The faster you go the greater the resistance. I won’t do the math, but drag increases exponentially. Staying between 50 and 60mph seems to be optimum. One discussion I found reported a 27% increase in fuel consumption at 75 vs 65mph. Another report gave a10% reduction from driving 65 instead of 55mph. Make it a personal challenge to find the sweet spot for your rig, and then use that knowledge to save a lot of money


June 06, 2022at4:03 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Great advice, Robert. This could be significant savings. Thanks for sharing! Team RV Lifestyle


June 02, 2022at4:21 pm, Bill Tozzo said:

Hi Mike, Jen and Group!

I just got finished listening to the podcast about saving money on gasoline these days. While I appreciate the advice from Dean, I want it all to know that while the basic facts are true, the actual savings is not.

Gas stations store their gasoline underground. Petroleum transfer stations generally have above ground tanks. Gasoline volume can vary approximately 1% for every 12 to 15° of temperature. However underground temperatures rarely if ever very more than a couple of degrees which has little or no effect on the volume of gas. Think about wine cellars, root sellers, while your basement is always cool, etc.

So lining up at a gas station early in the morning will not save you money. I’ll check the other suggestions as well.

The best advice, is reducing your speed and shopping wisely. Are use gas buddy, but I’m going to check out the other apps that Mike mentioned as well.

I hope the record is set straight as the information provided will undoubtedly change the way some people live their lives and it shouldn’t.

Consumer reports has an article on this that you can search. I tried to post a link here, but Mike has it set so that links aren’t allowed. Probably a very wise choice.


June 02, 2022at4:30 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thank you so much for this excellent information, Bill. Team RV Lifestyle


June 02, 2022at8:44 am, Steve Schrimsher said:

I find that your first 3 tips from the petroleum to be tedious, if impossible to implement with minimum savings. Three things that we use are:
1) Use gas buddy to find lowest price on your route. Not infallible, but usually good. Beware ofprices that are way below the prevailing local rate. Usually they are fake.
2) Use a Sam’s Club Mastercard. You get 5% off all fuel purchases at any station.
3)Cruise at 55 instead of 65. We get 20% better mileage just by doing this.


June 02, 2022at4:29 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for adding these, Steve. Mike and Jen, as mentioned in their story, are big fans of Gas Buddy. We all need to do all we can to save at the pump these days for sure. Team RV Lifestyle


June 10, 2022at11:48 pm, Rebecca Honaker said:

My husband and myself have come out better using Upside. The money We save you can put it back in your checking acct. Or get gift cards whichever you need worse at the time. Plus don’t have to wait for it to post days later out of your bank or credit card. We still sometimes use Gas Buddy but not as often as before finding Upside.


June 11, 2022at10:49 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing and adding this to the discussion, Rebecca – Team RV Lifestyle


June 01, 2022at2:33 pm, Michael McKie said:

I opened a USAA American Express credit card account that provides 5 percent cash back on fuel purchases. Note, must be service stations like Pilot, Shell, Buc ee’s etc. No cask back at places like Walmart and Costco. Five percent back makes a difference over time – $4.00 per gallon drops to $3.80.


June 02, 2022at4:26 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing this idea, Michael – Team RV Lifestyle


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