10 Easy Ways To Conserve Fuel and Improve RVs Mileage
The best thing about RV life is the freedom of adventuring and traveling to new locations. But RVs are, unfortunately, not the most fuel-efficient vehicles. I mean, at 10-15mpg, the cost of gas seems astronomical and could quickly rack up.
Fortunately, the high gas cost isn’t a part of the RVing path. There’re several ways to improve your RV gas mileage.
Here’re the top 10 ways how to improve your RVs gas mileage:
10 Ways to Improve Your RV’s Gas Mileage
1) Choice of RV Matters-Weight
The consensus among many RVers is the lighter the camper, the more fuel-efficient; it’s really that simple.
So, between the option of a larger class A diesel pusher, and a smaller, lighter class B RV, I’d go for the class B as it provides the greatest potential average MPG. In short, if you’re looking to save on fuel, get the lightest one you can; this even goes for the travel trailer.
Of course, the lightest options are usually the smallest and may feel claustrophobic. The more comfort, and more headroom, the more fuel usage. It’s what it is.
2) Consider a Diesel Engine
If fuel efficiency is your primary concern, then diesel is your best bet. Generally, diesel engines have higher torque and provide you with better MPG. It’s why most larger tractor-trailers are diesel-powered.
The tough part is finding an affordable diesel truck, but sites like Autotrader are handy.
3) RV Maintenance
Staying at the top of your maintenance game on your RV is key for extending its gas mileage. Changing your oil, replacing the spark plugs, and generally keeping your RV in top shape are sure ways to increase fuel usage.
In fact, without adequate engine fluids and maintenance, using any of the ways listed will lead to decreased fuel efficiency.
4) Slow Down
The biggest thing you can do to save on your gas consumption in your RV is to slow down. The slower you drive, the better your mileage will be. On the other hand, acceleration uses more fuel than any other action, so you should jackrabbit starts.
Most RVs have a sweet spot of 55-60 mph max, where you get the best fuel returns. The transmission is usually in the highest gear at this speed, and the torque converter is usually locked up.
5) Remove Unnecessary Mods and Streamline your RV
Most RVs have the aerodynamics of a brick; therefore, when strapping belongings, it’s best to eliminate all the pockets and walls of material that the wind can catch.
Remember, every bit of stuff on your roof or the exterior of your RV acts as a buffer against the wind, causing your RV engine to work harder to maintain speed.
Adding unnecessary mods to your RV also adds unnecessary weight. More weight equates to more power for acceleration, which in turn means more fuel. The bullbars are the worst as they unnecessarily increase the mass of your RV, cause parasitic drag, and may pose a safety risk in case of an accident.
So, help yourself out, and smooth out what’s on the roof. Also, remove unnecessary mods for more fuel efficiency.
6) Monitor Tire Pressure
I can’t emphasize the importance of monitoring your RV tire pressure. You must properly inflate your tire pressure according to the manufacturer’s specifications. If the OEM says 30 psi, only use that; underinflating or overinflating your tires may give you bad mileage.
On the other hand, maintaining correct tire pressure increase fuel economy and increases the tire’s lifespan.
You must also keep the wheel balanced and aligned perfectly.
7) Smart Gas Purchase Decisions
How and where your purchase gas doesn’t strictly influence your RV mileage, it may affect your travel budget.
Sometimes it makes sense to shop for gas because fuel costs vary widely between states. An app like GasBuddy is handy and will help you optimize your stops to get the best fuel deal along your route.
You could also cut your RV fuel consumption by signing up for a fuel station loyalty membership. Membership cards like Good Sam regularly offer fuel discounts at different fuel stations.
Finally, you must map your route to avoid searching for gas. Know your RV’s fuel tank capacity. Rate of consumption and how many miles between the available filling stations. This way, it’s easy to estimate how much you’ll spend and avoid the unpleasant surprises of high gas prices.
You could even take your planning a step further by using Google Maps or Waze to identify the most efficient RV route based on the current traffic conditions.
8) Engine Modifications
If you have the skills and resources, you can modify your RV’s engine to achieve some fuel savings. For example, modifying the computer or adding an extra cold air intake may help with some fuel savings.
However, this is not a simple DIY project, and I suggest you seek the help of a trusted professional. Be aware it may also void your insurance coverage.
9) Consider Carpooling
Many other campers are also trying to save fuel, so carpooling is an option. If you’re at a campsite and need to run an errand in town, try asking to see if anyone is heading that way so you can hop a ride. You could also offer a ride to other campers so that everyone saves on fuel.
10) Smart Driving
Driving an RV isn’t any much different from driving a vehicle. The mechanical principles are similar, and here are ways to optimize your RV’s fuel efficiency, just as you would in a regular vehicle:
- Inertia is your friend: When driving, quickly accelerate to your desired speed, and then go for the highest gears to keep the revs low. Ensure you also adjust your speeds to “catch” traffic lights. The idea is to never use the brakes and to keep your RVs inertia moving it.
- Always leave some space between you and the car ahead so your engine beaks to slow your RV when they break.
- Always set your eyes ahead, and change lanes accordingly to avoid hard braking or slowing.
- Coast if it’s possible, but with your gears engaged
- Use your AC wisely
Don’t Be Deluded
Finally, be aware that people’s anecdotes about their MPG can be way off. Don’t compete or get too much obsessed with numbers. Far too many RVers will rely on their RVs’ computers.
Be realistic about your consumption. For example, if you have got a medium-size trailer, 3,000 lbs, don’t expect to break 15 mpg very often. In most cases, you’ll be closer to 10 MPG.
Overall, I recommend you determine what you want to do with your RV before worrying about getting the best MPG out of your setup.
There are several strategies and practices that can help save fuel and improve gas mileage while traveling in an RV:
- Maintain Proper Tire Pressure: Ensure that your RV’s tires are properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Underinflated tires can increase rolling resistance and decrease fuel efficiency.
- Reduce Wind Resistance: Minimize drag and wind resistance by keeping windows closed, using aerodynamic accessories (such as streamlined mirrors or wind deflectors), and avoiding unnecessary roof cargo or attachments.
- Avoid Excessive Weight: Pack only what is necessary and avoid carrying unnecessary weight in your RV. Extra weight can increase fuel consumption, so declutter and travel lighter whenever possible.
- Drive Smoothly and Efficiently: Practice smooth acceleration and deceleration, and maintain a consistent speed to avoid unnecessary fuel consumption. Avoid sudden braking or aggressive driving habits that waste fuel.
- Use Cruise Control: Utilize the cruise control feature when driving on long, flat stretches of highway. This can help maintain a consistent speed and reduce fuel consumption by minimizing unnecessary throttle inputs.
- Plan Efficient Routes: Plan your route to minimize mileage and avoid traffic congestion whenever possible. Utilize GPS or mapping tools to find the most direct and efficient routes for your journey.
- Consider Fuel Additives: Some RV owners find that fuel additives can help improve fuel efficiency by cleaning fuel systems or enhancing combustion. However, it’s important to research and select reputable additives and follow manufacturer instructions.
- Regular Maintenance: Keep your RV well-maintained by following the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals. This includes regular oil changes, air filter replacements, and overall engine maintenance, which can help optimize fuel efficiency.
And remember, unless you’re living in an RV full-time, RVing is a more luxurious experience, and you’ll have to spend. But it’s worth it!