RV Fuel Efficiency: A Few Tips To Save You Money at the Gas Pump
RVers, like those of us at Guaranty RV, pay attention to gas prices, and we know that 2015 is the year to take that dream vacation or road trip you’ve been putting off, because fuel prices are as low as they’ve been in ages. Just to give us that extra nudge in the vacation direction, AAA’s Monthly Gas Price Report for July tells us that the national average price of gas this month is the lowest it’s been in six years. That’s cause for celebration, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be concerned about how much you’re spending at the gas station. Sure, it’s less to fill up your tank than it was a year ago, but the cost of fuel to drive a motorhome or tow a travel trailer, fifth wheel or toy hauler can still be a bigger price tag than you’d like. Luckily, there are good ways to get the most fuel efficiency possible out of your RV, so you can stay out on the road, at the coast or in the woods for as long as you want. Whether you’re looking for some pointers on how to get the most out of the RV you already own, or you’re in the market for the most fuel efficient RV on the road, we’ve got some tips.
We’ve said this before, and we hear it from RV manufacturers all the time: the #1 thing you can do to get the best fuel efficiency out of your motorhome or tow vehicle is to perform regular maintenance. The camping experts, KOA, created a graph that gives you a visual of the largest culprits in fuel efficiency loss in RVs, and it was no surprise to us that three out of the four biggest culprits are dirty air filters, out of tune engines and faulty emissions. According to their research, a finely tuned motorhome or tow vehicle engine can save you up to 20% in fuel efficiency. Replacing an old oxygen sensor could make your RV a whopping 40% more efficient. A clean air filter can improve your RV’s fuel economy by up to 10%. You can get 3% better fuel efficiency by keeping your tires properly rotated and adjusting your tire pressure. No matter how you look at it, keeping up on your motorhome or tow vehicle’s maintenance schedule saves you money at the gas pump.
At Guaranty, we make it easy to keep track of your maintenance schedule. Download our easy-to-use RV Owner app to your smartphone. You can get the Android app from the Google Play Store, and the iPhone app is currently available in your iTunes App Store. Just look up Guaranty RV. Set RV Owner with your RV’s recommended service plan, along with your mileage, and it will automatically alert you when it’s time to check maintenance items off your list. You can check off the services you’ve completed as you go, delete ones you don’t intend to do, or even schedule an appointment with our RV Service Center directly from the app. Just set it and forget it; it’s as simple as that.
The other major gas-eating culprit in that KOA study is speeding. Their research corresponds with what many other RV manufacturers and RVers have found—55 to 60 miles per hour is the “sweet spot” for RV fuel efficiency. According to this study, every five miles per hour that you speed over that sweet spot costs you as much as ten cents more per gallon! So even if fuel prices are going down, your driving habits could be keeping your cost at the pump much higher.
Other driving tips include:
- Use your overdrive gears whenever you can.
- Utilize your cruise control so that you’re staying at a consistent speed.
- If you’re idling somewhere for more than two or three minutes, turn off your engine.
- Avoid rapidly speeding up or slowing down; build speed slowly and steadily.
- Keep your windows rolled up while on the highway.
- Plan in advance for best RV routes and less traffic.
- Leave plenty of time to reach your destination, so you don’t have to speed.
It’s easy in modern RVs to overpack, particularly in motorhomes and fifth wheels that offer such a wealth of storage. The problem is that extra weight makes for lousy gas mileage, and it’s not just the extra weight, but how it’s distributed throughout your RV. Take a look at your RV’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and stick to that, even if you can load in more. Also, spread the weight throughout the storage options in your RV so you’re not overloaded on one side or one end. Think about what you can leave at home. For instance, can you buy firewood near your destination rather than hauling it in your RV?
Another thing to consider in terms of RV weight is your water and waste tanks. If you’re going to a campground with full hookups, don’t fill your water tanks before you go; just fill up at the campsite and save yourself some mileage on the road. Remember, one gallon of water weighs eight pounds, and that quickly adds up. Similarly, dump and flush your waste tanks as soon as you can when you’re done camping, so you’re not hauling home the extra weight and impacting your fuel efficiency.
If you’re in the market for a new or pre-owned RV, and fuel efficiency is a key component in your decision making process, congratulations, because there are more options than ever available to you today. The question really comes down to how you want to camp and/or take road trips and vacations. Whether you’re looking for a motorhome or a towable RV, there’s something perfect for you. Take a look at our blog RVs with the Best MPG to get a better understanding of the factors that go into building a fuel efficient RV, including size, weight, aerodynamic design, fuel types and more. Looking for a motorhome for those special road-trips-for-two? A Class B model is supremely fuel efficient. Need something to tow behind your SUV that has space for you, the kids and the family dog? Check out a lightweight travel trailer like a Jayco Jay Flight SLX or a folding camper like the Rockwood models made by Forest River. RV manufacturers are taking fuel efficiency seriously these days, so you won’t have to search far before you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Knowing the current fuel prices in the areas you’re travelling to, and which station to go to to get the best price can save you a lot of time, hassle and money on the road. Check out these websites, Automotive.com and GasBuddy.com, to find current fuel prices throughout the U.S. Just enter the appropriate zip code for prices and stations. Knowing where to go ahead of time can give you a big advantage when it’s time to pull out your wallet.
Fuel efficiency, in real terms, means more money in your pocket, so you can spend it where you should: on having fun! By doing a little planning ahead, regularly servicing your RV or tow vehicle, driving at a consistent speed, using common sense practices on the road, and not over-packing, you can go a long way toward getting the best possible fuel efficiency out of your RV. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, or come visit us in Junction City and find your perfect fuel efficient RV.
Photo: Vicky Frank