How to manage gas mileage during an RV trip

Fuel expenses are part of the deal for RV owners. That said, RVers aren’t at the mercy of the oil markets or geopolitical events to determine their budgets. Whether higher prices or up-and-down terrain where you’re traveling make keeping gas spend lower important, or you’re saving for the kids’ college, there are plenty of things you can do, especially when you own your RV.

Consider parking your trailer

Instead of pulling a trailer back and forth, find a campsite that’s convenient and comfortable and leave your trailer there. Park model RVs are built specifically for this. Our take on this concept, the Jay Flight Bungalow, includes unique residential features like larger windows, a detachable hitch (for more space at camp), a central vacuum system, patio-style sliding doors and an atrium-style front wall.

Get a smaller RV

Smaller RVs weigh less and, therefore, use less fuel. Luckily, in the towable sector, there are more small options than ever before. Popular micro travel trailers include floorplans that are shorter than traditional travel trailers and several thousand pounds.

On the motorized side, van-style, Class B RVs are more popular than ever. The Class B RV’s compact size and maneuverability are great, but gas mileage puts them over the top for many shoppers. They are clearly the most efficient motorhome. These are miles-per-gallon estimates for the various types of motorhomes:

  • Class A Motorhomes – 8-12
  • Class B Motorhomes –15-17
  • Class C Motorhomes – 8-12 (15-17 for Mercedes-Benz® Sprinter products)

Choose diesel

Diesel fuel provides 10-15 percent more energy than normal gasoline does. Tow vehicle or motorhome, the extra efficiency achieves 20-35 percent better gas mileage than gasoline fueled vehicles, not to mention its price at the pump is typically lower than most higher-grade gas.

Maintain motors

Keep your motorized RV and towing vehicles up to date on maintenance to ensure they are running at their peak performance. And always change the oil and filters on schedule.

Take shorter trips

Between state parks, the wave of private property owners renting campsites, public lands or the supercenter parking lot, it’s easy for most to find a place to get away to that doesn’t involve all the miles. Heck, you wouldn’t be the first to have a great time camping in the back yard.

Relax your right foot

The best way to save gas is to relax the gas–pedal foot. If you accelerate at one–quarter or half throttle, the fuel mileage gains can be impressive. In a test done by Edmunds.com (one of the top car information sites), moderate acceleration and braking was shown to offer an average of 31 percent in fuel savings over aggressive driving behavior.

The difference in fuel consumption between a car cruising at 75 mph and 65 mph is significant too. Slowing down and driving the speed limit has been shown to provide up to a 14 percent savings in fuel on a long trip.

Turn the engine off

Excessive idling wastes a lot of fuel. When you’re stopped for more than a couple minutes, shut the engine off. Again, a test performed by the Edmunds.com automotive staff showed a fuel savings of up to 19 percent by shutting the engine down at each stop (10 stops) during a 10-mile test drive, rather than letting the engine idle during the two–minute stops over the same 10-mile, 10-stop test route.

Maintain proper tire pressure

The savings are modest, but none–the–less, by keeping your vehicle’s tires inflated to the recommended level, you’ll squeeze more miles out a gallon of gas and maybe another day of camping!

Use cruise control

Use the cruise control function on your vehicle, but use it only on long, flat stretches of highway. If you keep the cruise control “on” in mountainous areas, the system will try to maintain the set speed and you’ll waste a lot of fuel as the transmission downshifts and the engine speed (rpm) rises to climb the hills.

Pack wisely

Don’t load down your RV with unnecessary weight. Wait to fill up with water until you arrive at the campground. Stock up on groceries near the campsite. And, simply, leave behind what you don’t really need. No matter your experiences, this gets easier every trip.

Find the Jayco RV that suits your budget, no matter how you like to travel.

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