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$1,000 Fuel Fill Ups Are a Reality for Motorhome Drivers

$1,000 Fuel Fill Ups Are a Reality for Motorhome Drivers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, the historically high gas prices should come as no surprise. And no one feels the pain more acutely than RVers who deal with motorhome gas mileage that routinely dips into the low single digits. In fact, four-figure gas bills have become a reality for more travelers. So let’s look at this growing problem and what you can do to save a few bucks at the pump.

Motorhome Drivers Pay Big at the Pump

Unlike drivers of regular cars and trucks, motorhome owners always pay big gas bills. With large tanks, low mileage, and devices like generators sucking down gas, it’s no wonder. Fillups in the $300 to $500 range have been a regular occurrence for years. But with the recent spike in prices, some parts of the country have seen prices above $6 per gallon. This pushes the cost of filling your tank closer to the dreaded $1,000 mark. 

How Will Gas & Diesel Prices Affect RV and Road Trip Travel?

How Big Are Motorhome Fuel Tanks?

The exact size of motorhome fuel tanks will vary depending on the type of RV. But suffice to say, it’s much bigger than most cars and trucks. Class B or Class C RVs average around 25 gallons on the lower end, though tanks double that size aren’t uncommon. Class A motorhomes have the largest fuel tanks but can also get the lowest gas mileage. These tanks can easily reach the 100-gallon range, with the largest topping upwards of 150. 

Mortons on the Move truck and fifth wheel at gas station refueling
High gas prices are greatly impacting RV travels.

How Much Fuel Does a Motorhome Use? 

How much fuel does a motorhome use? Quite a bit, to be sure. You may get just 4-8 miles per gallon in the largest Class A models. Class Cs will reach from the high single digits to low double digits for mpg, while smaller Class Bs can routinely hit the teens. 

With average-sized fuel tanks, a Class A can travel between 350 and 1,000 miles per tank, depending on the rig and conditions. Class Cs have a smaller range despite their better mileage, typically lasting between 200 and 600 miles. 

Class Bs have the shortest distance between fill-ups thanks to the smallest tanks but can still travel 200 to 400 miles on a single fuel-up. 

Based on this, most RVers can usually fuel weekend trips or short vacations with a single tank or less. Full-time travelers will vary in their fill-up frequency based on their pace of travel.

Is a Gas or Diesel Motorhome More Fuel Efficient? 

Strictly on an efficiency basis, diesel edges out gas by a few miles per gallon. However, diesel is also more expensive, meaning much of the difference balances out over time. More important than gas or diesel is the overall weight of the vehicle, which will determine the mileage to a significant extent. 

Join The Debate: We compared the pros and cons of Diesel Pusher vs. Gas Motorhomes. Fuel efficiency isn’t the only thing to consider!

Motorhome parked at gas pump refueling.
Some RVers have had to pay over $1000 to fill up their RV.

How Can You Conserve Fuel in a Motorhome? 

If these facts have your head spinning and your wallet feeling empty, never fear. You can find many ways to increase your motorhome gas mileage without making any big changes to your adventuring. 

Lighten Your Load

It might not seem like much in the context of your RV’s overall weight, but removing any unnecessary weight from your rig can make a difference in your motorhome gas mileage. Your engine won’t have to work as hard to pull you and your stuff down the road. This simple tip could save a significant amount of gas over long trips. 

Monitor Your Tire Pressure

Properly inflated tires don’t just provide a smoother ride. They also help you achieve peak gas mileage. Once again, your engine can take it a bit easier with properly inflated tires, saving you gas and money. Checking and fixing your tire pressure is quick and easy. So you don’t have an excuse for not doing so regularly.

If you really want to do it right, check out the free e-book from The RV Geeks all about this topic.

Pro Tip: Make monitoring your tire pressure easy with these Best RV Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.

Remain Steady When Accelerating

Driving behavior can also make an impact on your motorhome gas mileage. Keeping steady on the accelerator maximizes the efficiency of your engine, as it burns the most fuel while speeding up. 

Plus, over accelerating means you’ll likely need to hit the brakes, squandering some of the precious inertia you used gas to generate. A steady foot on the pedal leads to steady, efficient sipping of gas as opposed to the gulping of rapid acceleration. 

Using cruise control properly can also save you some fuel and money.

Camp Closer to Home

One of the best ways to save money on gas is to simply put fewer miles on your rig during periods of high fuel prices. With poor motorhome gas mileage, you may not want to travel far anyway. Instead of heading across the country, consider exploring parts of your state or region you’ve never seen. You may find a new favorite camping spot right in your backyard.

Stay Longer at Campgrounds

Another way to reduce gas usage, particularly for full-time travelers, is to stay longer at each stop. Rather than hopping around to three or four RV parks over a few weeks, consider staying at one. Take day or weekend trips to other areas in a tow vehicle, which will likely have much better gas mileage. Plus, you’ll generally save money on campground fees as well, as many operators offer discounts for extended stays. You can put those savings directly into your gas fund.

Truck camper refueling at gas station
Use cruise control and lighten your RV load to save money at the pump.

Best Apps for Great Deals on Motorhome Fuel

Apps can be one of the easiest ways to save a significant amount of money on fuel. And you’ll find more than ever these days. The best part is that, with a bit of planning and the extensive range provided by your RV gas tank, you can pick where you fill up. That’ll help you take advantage of the best deals, consistently saving you more cash than other travelers. Here are some of our top app choices. 

Mudflap App

Mudflap can be a godsend to those driving diesel rigs. The app caters specifically to them, providing an instant discount of up to 50 cents per gallon. You can do the math for how much that saves you with large RV fuel tanks. It also includes a rewards program and a large and growing network of participating fuel stations. So if you have a motorhome with low gas mileage, you can save big by using this app.

Gasbuddy App

Gasbuddy is one of the longest-running and best-known gas price information services, and the company has it down to a science. In addition to helping you find the lowest fuel prices, it also offers in-app discounts of up to 25 cents per gallon. Other tools allow you to track fill-ups and monitor your driving for helpful saving tips. Users also collect points that they can redeem for entries into daily gas card drawings. 

TSD Open Roads 

The TSD Open Roads app bills itself as “the fastest growing discount program for RV enthusiasts.” In addition to providing discounts, reviewers praise it for its detailed accounting features to help you keep track of your fuel budget. 

Woman using phone while on a road trip
Using phone apps while RVing can help save you money at the pump.

How Do High Gas Prices Affect RVing? 

There’s no question that high fuel prices have an impact on the RVing world. For many RVers, gas is one of their top expenses, if not the biggest. High fuel costs may mean an extended break from traveling for motorhomes with low gas mileage. Furthermore, sustained high prices can likely discourage some would-be RVers and prevent current RVers from traveling as extensively. 

For those who can afford the increased costs, this may mean an easier time finding spots at campgrounds and RV parks that are consistently packed. High fuel prices could also lead some RVers to give up altogether, increasing the supply of used rigs for sale at generally lower prices. 

The push to pinch pennies will also likely increase the popularity of free camping and boondocking and make discount camping membership programs more attractive.

Recreational vehicle owner spends almost $1000 in gas

Is RVing With High Fuel Prices Worth It?

While some may view RVing as a budget-friendly way to travel, it can be anything but, especially with sky-high gas prices. RVers will be forced to spend more of their budgets on fuel, leaving less for all of the fun adventures, delicious food, and other attractions along the way. Whether or not RVing is still worth it is a personal decision that each traveler will have to make. Motorhome gas mileage, on top of high fuel costs, can put a damper on RVing. Think about your budget and priorities first. But RVers and non-RVers both want prices to drop soon!

Are gas prices impacting how often you RV? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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