Are you making plans to purchase your first Class C RV?
One of the considerations you’re probably thinking of is what type of engine to go with. Should you go with an expensive diesel engine or perhaps the cheaper gas engine?
Maybe you’ve already pulled the trigger on a specific model and engine type, and you’re checking to see how much mileage you can get out of it.
Whatever your situation is, we’re here to help.
We’re going to answer the important questions that potential or current RV owners ask. With our guide, you’ll be able to make the most of your Class C RV. You can better enjoy your road trips, knowing that your gas money is being well spent.
Average Class C RV Gas Mileage
You should expect the average mileage for your Class C RV to be around 8 – 10 miles per gallon.
What are the factors that have an impact on gas mileage?
You should be aware of the following things as they have an effect on gas mileage: grade, weight, grade, ethanol, and wind.
- Road grade – Like with any vehicle, road grade affects the mileage of your car since it’s one factor that determines the amount of power your car has to exert. Depending on the road grade you often travel on, it could decrease or improve your mileage. Expect better mileage if you travel flat or downhill roads, or worse mileage when you often travel uphill.
- Weight – If you’re carrying a lot of weight in your car in the form of parts, personal gear, and onboard supplies, expect that you’ll get worse mileage. Your RV will have to exert more power to be able to run with all the weight that it’s carrying. If you’re looking to maximize the car mileage, traveling as light as possible is a must. Check what items you have on board, determine their weight, and assess which are adding a lot of unnecessary or avoidable bulk. Another thing you can be conscious of is if you’re going to be bringing large water tanks on your trip. You can consider bringing them along empty to shave off that extra added weight.
- Speed – If you’re aiming for the RV to burn gas with the best efficiency, you should travel in speeds of 55 – 60 mph. Otherwise, traveling in speeds slower or faster will not allow you to reach optimal fuel efficiency. If you’re often stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, that will have quite a negative impact on your mileage. Be careful of your acceleration as well. Don’t be aggressive with the pedal and instead accelerate at a good pace.
- Ethanol – Your fuel efficiency will also depend on how much ethanol is present in your gasoline. There is a proportional decrease in your fuel efficiency to the amount of ethanol there is. If your fuel contains 10% ethanol, then you should expect a decrease of 10% in your mileage. Higher octane fuel, which means less or no ethanol, is more expensive than lower octane fuel. This effect happens because ethanol has a lower energy density than gasoline. However, ethanol is cleaner and reduces a car’s greenhouse emissions.
- Wind – The amount of wind resistance will also affect your mileage. If you’re driving your RV against the wind, then expect your mileage to be worse since you’re fighting that downwind force. When you drive with the wind, then the tailwind force will help you accelerate better and easier, so your engine will be able to burn slightly less fuel for the same performance. For anyone who’s traveled on a plane, you may have noticed that for certain flights in opposite directions, one is faster than the other. The reason is because of wind resistance. One flight is heading towards the wind, the other is being pushed by it. So you can expect the same to apply to your RV.
In an ideal world, you would be able to do the following things to get the best mileage possible out of your RV. You would always be traveling with the wind on your back. You would always travel downhill wherever you’re headed. Your RV will have nothing else onboard but you. You would always be traveling at 55 – 60 mph. And your gasoline will have no ethanol for maximum fuel efficiency.
Is it better to get a diesel or gas Class C RV for better fuel mileage?
If all other factors between the two models are the same, then we can say that diesel engines are better. They typically get 10% more fuel mileage than gas engines. Crunching the math, you’ll see that each gallon of gasoline yields an increase of 1 – 2 miles.
Aside from better mileage, diesel engines have more power. They have stronger towing capacities so they are better equipped to tow cars. When it comes to longevity, diesel engines will outlast gas engines.
Sounds pretty much like a done deal, right? Given that it has better mileage, power, and lifespan, why would someone else prefer to get the gas engine?
Well, if you’re conscious about your bank account, then the gas engine might seem more appealing. An RV that has a gas engine is actually less expensive compared to its diesel engine version.
Diesel fuel is also generally more expensive than gasoline. This stems from different factors such as the demand for diesel in certain countries, the higher distribution costs, and the excise tax affecting diesel. So if you get a diesel engine, expect to shell out a bit more than you would for the gas engine.
So with all these factors to consider, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of getting a diesel or gas engine. Do you want an RV that’s more powerful and has better mileage, or one that is less expensive and costs you less for fuel?
What class of RV should I buy to get the best mileage out of?
Class A RV – This kind of RV is humongous out of the three classes. It actually looks like a bus already. Because of its size, it can house more supplies and items, so if you plan on storing quite a lot in your RV, maybe you should consider a Class A. However, they typically have a gas mileage of around 5 – 7 miles per gallon. So because of their size and weight, expect worse gas mileage from them.
Class B RV – Also known as camper vans, Class Bs are much smaller RVs which look like an enlarged van. While they can house your most essential amenities such as a bathroom and kitchen, they will feel much smaller compared to the spacious Class A. On the bright side, Class Bs can produce a mileage of around 18 – 22 miles per gallon. This is because of its lighter weight and smaller size.
Class C RV – If you want an RV that’s a compromise between the size of Class A and the great mileage of Class B, then a Class C is perfect for you. If houses more amenities than a Class B could while not feeling as gigantic as a Class A. It’s gas mileage runs around 8 – 10 miles per gallon, which is noticeably better than a Class A.
How do I get more mileage out of my RV?
Of course, you’ll want to maximize your RV’s gas mileage, and there are some very basic checklists you can follow to get better efficiency.
- Proper driving habits – The first and most personal thing that you’ll have to be conscious of is your own driving habits. Drivers of 18-wheelers are your best inspiration since they really train to drive large vehicles over long distances in the most efficient way possible. Fuel is largely consumed when you decelerate or accelerate. So to offset this effect, truckers use this technique called “hypermiling”. You can achieve this by cruising whenever possible instead of having to use the acceleration. Allot a large amount of space between you and the vehicle at your front. When you have to start slowing down, simply let go of the pedal and just let the car slow down naturally until you really have to start braking.
- Tire pressure – Perhaps you don’t pay much attention to your tire pressure when it comes to mileage, but this is another factor that contributes to better mileage. If your tires are under-inflated, this can yield a lower mileage. Generally, when your average tire pressure drops by 1psi, it can produce 0.2% less mileage. Then if the tire pressure dropped by 5 psi, you’ll decrease your mileage by 1%. All in all, it’s always good to check your tire inflation. Under-inflated tires heat up much faster which wears down your tires. Properly inflating tires will help improve safety and longevity.
- Turning off the air-conditioning – There are a lot of reasons why this might not be an option for some. Perhaps they live in a very warm climate where the AC is a must. Maybe you’d rather not let the polluted air in your car. However, when you can, it would really help improve your RV’s fuel mileage if you shut the AC, especially if it’s fighting against extreme heat. The AC can reduce up to 25% of your mileage, which is a very significant trade-off. To get back that lost mileage, you can just open the windows and let the fresh air cool your RV. There are also more advantages to using your RV’s rooftop AC rather than its dash AC.
- Regular car maintenance – If you notice that your mileage has been progressively getting worse because you’ve owned your RV for a long time, it might be due for its regular maintenance. This can tremendously help with your mileage. A brand new air filter can give you up to 10% more mileage. A tune-up could yield a 20% increase with your mileage. With these benefits, don’t neglect to perform regular maintenance on your RV. This will both help your RV stay healthy, last longer, run more efficiently, and save you more money in the long run.
Those are the most essential tips that you should keep in mind. Some other advice that we can offer are:
If it’s possible, avoid traffic. Being stuck in traffic where you have to constantly accelerate and brake over and over again will quickly eat through your gas mileage. Consider going at a time when the streets are less busy so you can maximize your fuel mileage.
Throttle slowly. Then travel with an optimal speed that is safe enough considering the traffic. You may not be aware that you’re pushing your car more than required, which will obviously burn unnecessary fuel. Since you’re driving a large and heavy vehicle, you’ll need to better train yourself to discern the power required in a given situation and operate within optimal parameters. For example, if you can spot a road ahead that you’ll travel upward, you should put your car into a lower gear and get the right momentum so you won’t have to struggle so much going uphill. When you’re familiar with your routes, you can also practice cruising and braking optimally.
All in all, you have to remember that an RV is very different from a car. You can’t expect that all of your driving habits and techniques with a car will directly apply to an RV. If you think that you can drive your RV like a regular car, then that will just cost you. You’ll end up getting fewer miles per gallon and you may have to require more frequent maintenance of your RV.
You may have other questions on your mind. So we’ve taken the liberty of answering other questions that frequently pop up.
Class C Gas Mileage FAQ
Is it okay to use a fuel economy chip? Will it help me increase the RV’s gas mileage?
There are a lot of testimonies out there that attest to the positive effects of using a fuel economy chip. If you buy a reliable fuel economy chip, it can have a significant effect on your mileage. Many RV drivers have experienced adding a couple of miles per gallon to their mileage after they installed a chip. However, you will have to ensure that you purchase a high-quality fuel economy chip instead of those cheap ones. As a general rule of thumb, good chips are expected to cost upwards of $100. Keep in mind though that a chip won’t magically fix the impact your negative driving habits have on your mileage. Getting a chip can provide welcome assistance and it will enhance good driving habits.
Will my mileage be affected if I run my generator as I drive?
In short, yes it will. If you run your generator as you drive, your gas mileage will actually be affected, and negatively. This is because the regular kind of generator can burn gas as fast as around one half of a gallon per hour. This will definitely cause your mpg to drop. So, you might want to limit generator usage.
Can using Cruise Control Lengthen My Mileage?
Cruise control would be a great way to improve and lengthen the gas mileage of your car. It can make your car more efficient in mileage by around 15%, which is actually very significant. If you’d like an article that talks about testing the driving suggestions written about here, you can find one on Edmunds.com. One of the things they tested was lengthening gas mileage through cruise control. While these were tested on cars, the mechanics were similar.
Cruise control’s often mentioned as a reliable way to save up on gas and get better mileage. If you test it for yourself, you’ll see that it yields significant benefits to your gas mileage. This is possible since the driver will throttle their RV at a much smoother pace, as compared to drivers who frequently surge their accelerator. Practicing cruise control also helps the driver become more conscious of how they should drive overall in long stretches of roads, instead of simply thinking short term.
Cruise control was also tried on different cars. For instance, when tested on a 55-mile loop, cruise control was used to help the car maintain a smooth 70 mph. When cruise control was disabled, however, the driving speed would fluctuate from 65mph to anywhere up to 75 mph. All this was done while considering how a normal person would have to drive in regular freeway traffic.
So, now you can be more confident about purchasing your very own Class C RV.
There are a lot of methods given that will assist you in getting the best possible gas mileage out of your RV. Most of these involve being conscious about your driving habits to ensure that you’re efficiently burning gas.
The choice between a gas and diesel RV is also a major one, and your choice will help determine the fuel economy expected of your RV.
Learning how to properly maintain your RV is also a must. Be aware of any potential issues that may be leading you to consume more fuel than necessary.
Keep our tips in mind for whatever adventure you’ll use your RV for, and you’ll rest easy knowing your gas mileage is always at its best!