Should I buy gas or diesel? This question has fueled many a heated debate over the years. A universal response you could expect to hear to this question goes something like this; diesels cost more than gas, don’t buy a diesel unless you plan to put a bunch of miles on it and keep it for a long time. That’s the only way you can justify the extra cost of a diesel.

Several years ago there was some truth to this somewhat typical response. But things are changing, especially when you are talking about motorhomes. Today, the cost of some gasoline powered motorhomes is about the same as many of the entry level diesel motorhomes available on the market. This higher cost is associated with advancements in gasoline RV chassis’ design; with greater Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWR) to accommodate coach designs offering 3 and 4 slideouts on the RV. And don’t forget to factor in new technology in gasoline engine and transmission design over the past several years too.

The old response, of diesels costing more, does hold true with some of the specialized diesel chassis manufacturers, but it’s not just the engine that accounts for the higher price tag. You are moving to a higher plateau across the board. For the most part gasoline RV chassis’ are heavy duty truck chassis’ modified for Recreation Vehicle use, whereas many diesel chassis’ are a bus chassis. These bus chassis’ have even greater GVWR’s, air brakes, air ride suspension systems, larger transmissions, rear mounted diesel engines and more. They handle better, ride better and cost more. I always say you get what you pay for.

Other than the cost factor, what are we really talking about when it comes down to gas versus diesel? Say for example, in a truck you plan to use for towing a trailer. This is where we need to factor in the engine itself. This is also where torque and horsepower come into the equation.

Explaining torque and horsepower can get extremely technical, and we want to keep this simple and easy to understand. With that said, torque is basically the force or energy required to move something. Torque is the measurement of force, and force is measured in reference to a twisting or rotating shaft. In English terms torque is measured in pounds-feet, but is more commonly referred to as foot-pounds. So in keeping it simple let’s just say that torque can be thought of as the amount of turning force it takes to move one pound of weight the distance of one foot.

Horsepower on the other hand is torque X RPM’s. Torque is how much work is being done, and horsepower is how fast you get the actual work done. What’s interesting is, an engine rated at 350 horsepower only produces that horsepower at a rated peak power RPM. This RPM range, for a gasoline engine, is often between 5,000 and 6,000 RPM’s. When an engine is idling the horsepower is significantly lower, and as the RPM’s increase so does the horsepower. When you are towing a trailer the engine speed is more likely to be in a lower RPM range, which means you have much less available horsepower than the engines rated horsepower. Horsepower is measured by a dynamometer. A dynamometer puts a load on the engine and measures the amount of power the engine produces against the load at various speeds. Even at the rated peak power RPM you really won’t get the rated horsepower, because a percentage is lost through auxiliary equipment on the engine and the process of getting it back to the wheels.

In a diesel engine the horsepower peaks at a lower RPM, and there is more torque at a lower RPM compared to a gasoline engine. This results in a diesel engine having much more power at a lower RPM, around the RPM range you will be towing at. This higher torque and higher horsepower at a lower RPM equates to better towing.

There are many other factors involved in the question of gas versus diesel that you will need to consider. What are the maintenance costs involved, cost difference between fuel types, fuel economy, your budget, and the resale value? Whether it’s for a tow vehicle or a motorhome, take your time and make a well informed decision when comparing gas to diesel.

If the question is which truck will tow more or which motorhome has more torque the diesel will win hands down, but I honestly have no complaints with our gas powered motorhome either. Especially when considering the price!

Happy Camping

Mark Polk

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  4. I personally think that Gas would be better. I just road in a diesel the other day and it was giving us problems. I think it’s my understanding that diesel gets better gas mileage, but that perhaps maintenance on them may be more difficult. I work for Florida Outdoors RV and I think we sell both Gas and Diesel, but mostly gas. But we also sell travel trailers. Anywayz…there is a lot of spam on this blog…hopefully somebody fixes it. 🙂

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  396. Hector

    Thank you all very much for all the great comments, please keep it coming because I need all the help I can get from everyone experiences. Looking to buy a Class A next year once the kids finish college. Retired from the Army last year and I am planing on RVing full time. I think I will travel from one military base to another since it seems their prices for longer stay are a little better better (in my opinion). This topic it’s been on the back of my head and am glad I stumble with this site. Thanks all and I hope RVing is as fun as it looks like.


  397. Rich

    I have owned both in a 3/4 and 1 ton P/U’s. The older diesels vs gas I give the edge to diesel but just by the skin of its teeth. Diesel was cheaper then and so where the trucks.

    Now, MPG is higher, life of a gas truck is longer, fuel is cheaper, the truck costs less, repairs are less, and matainance is less. I went to gas. I pull a 24 ft stock/horse trailer and a Thompson 240 Fisherman HT boat (hard top weighs a bit more).

  398. Here’s my opinion for what’s it worth…from my experiences of previously and currently owned units.

    First owned – 1972 19′ Winnebago Class A with Dodge 318 running on propane. Average MPG was 7~8. Complete with shower, bathroom, small 3way refrigerator, slept 6 very tight. Run 55-60 mph comfortably but not much more.

    Second owned – 1983 26′ Winnebago Class A with Chevy 454 on gas. Average MPG was 5~6. Complete with shower, bathroom, rear bunks, larger 3way refrigerator, gas 3kw generator, dash and roof air, slept 8 very tight. It ran 60+ mph but very high rpm for a big block.

    Third owned – 1987 32′ Triple E Class A with Chevy 454 on gas. Average MPG was 5~7. Complete with shower/tub, bathroom, rear bedroom, very large 3way refrigerator, gas 3.5kw generator, dash and roof air, slept 7 well. This unit ran 70+ mph with ease but very high rpm as well.

    Currently owned – 2000 36′ Monaco Knight with DP 300hp Cummins Turbo Diesel. Average MPG 10.5~14. Complete with neo angle fiberglass shower, bathroom, rear queen bedroom, huge 4 door refrigerator c/w ice maker, diesel 7.5kw generator, dash and 2 roof air, sleeps 4. Cruises @ 75mph @ 2100 rpm with little effort.

    To summarize my experiences:

    Gas (propane) pro’s – simple to understand and maintain, most common tools can be used to repair, quick start and drive, readily available parts, older units can be “patched” on the road to keep running.

    Gas (propane) con’s – noisy, hot, poor fuel economy, frequent service intervals, poor rough ride.

    Diesel pro’s – fuel economy, extended service intervals, quiet, very smooth ride

    Diesel con’s – expensive to repair requiring specialized tools, harder to understand systems and limp home, extended oil changes but more expensive, not practical to drive on cold start, heavy, harder or impossible to start in extremely cold weather.

    There is also one factor not often written about that to some is the biggest buying factor……..prestige. They are beautiful machines that are admired by many. It’s a great feeling to pull into camp sites and RV parks driving one of the “big boys”.

    Bottom line – to each their own and regardless of big/small, old/new, gas/diesel, it’s important to enjoy the purpose of ownership……get out and enjoy life!!!

  399. Mike

    Not sure if I’m the best source of information, but I tried pulling our 30ft (length overall) 5th wheel with gasser (1500HD 6.0L) and quickly realized I was under powered to get up the passes here in Colorado. That being said, we bought a used Dodge 3500 w/CTD and haven’t looked back. In fact, I do look back in the mirrors as I pass other rigs :)).

    I don’t use the truck a daily driver as fuel prices here are $4.00+. Living in Colorado, we wouldn’t have been happy with a gas truck.

    BTW, I retied from the AF 5 years ago. We aren’t full timers but this summer we are planning to live out of our new 34ft 5th wheel for a week or two at a time (I telecommute so it doesn’t really matter where I dial in from).


  400. Thanks everyone. I’ve had more incite in the last 30 minutes than the past 12 months. Keep it coming.

    Here’s my story, time-line, and direction. I would really appreciate your input and opinions. All responses appreciated.

    Me- Active duty (AD) military (mil), single, no kids

    Past- Had a nice house. Life happened (not bad, but bad enough). Moved out of the house and decided to get a small camper untill I could buy some property at my next duty station to build a house. Bought a lite wtt 28ft Keystone Outback tt w/ one wall slide to pull with my Ford Ranger. Pulled ok, but did struggle on hills, and couldn’t see the big rigs coming with the narrow truck cab. Was only 1-2k over weight. I felt like a safety hazard quite often. White knuckles in traffic, so I traded the Ranger for a 99 Dodge 1500 w/ 120mi. Overhauled for $1500. Nice truck. Runs like a champ. Pulls this little thing with no problem.

    Present- Now that I’ve been in this for a yr; I really enjoy the RV family atmosphere and had no idea I would be as comfortable as I am as a full timer. Loving the lifestyle so far. I’m also able to save more $ towards a property to buy now and build in 6-8 yrs when I retire from active duty. However; I would like to move up into a 30-32 ft Fifth wheel that I could really enjoy. Just to have a little more room in the shower, a recliner, and storage space. I would have no issues what-so-ever at that point and could see myself remaining a full time RV’r till mil retirement.

    Future- Knowing this, I must move up in truck first. Looking to get a 2500 or F-250. Have no truck brand, engine, or transmission loyalty at this time. As AD mil, I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of traveling for long distances. On-call for work often. I may take the occasional extended weekend fishing trip to the lake, or a week or two to deer camp, but not a lot of long distance towing. Most of my next 6-8 yrs would be moving to different camp grounds, or changing camp sites within one or 2 campgrounds close to base. With that said, the majority of miles on my new truck will be local stop and go traffic and the occasional 10-12hr trip home without towing.

    As a full timer who doesnt travel to much, or pull long distances, what would be my best option? Gas or Diesel? And whichever you suggest; Which configure of engine/transmission should I get to maximize my fuel mileage and towing needs?

    Thank you all for sharing your knowledge.

  401. John

    I don’t own an RV, but I do own a 2000 Dodge Ram 2500 with a 5.9L Cummins TD with 4×4 and 35″ tires. As far as maintenance, it doesn’t cost any more to maintain a diesel pickup as it does a gas pickup. Cummins turbo diesels have been known to last over 1 million miles without being rebuilt. Ive never heard of a gas truck going past 400,000. I do all the work on my truck myself. I have no mechanic experience. All it takes is a couple hundred in tools. Since I bought the truck 4 years ago the only thing that has failed was the powersteering pump.

    As for torque, HP, and fuel economy, I get 23 mpg when I go 55mph and 20 when I go 65mph. Towing a 7000lb trailer at 65mph I get 16mpg I am currently putting out about 800 ft lbs and about 400HP. My 0-60 is better than most stock sedans.

    I do better offroad than any stock jeep.

    I payed about 3000 more for this truck than a gasser.

    My only complaint: I pay 20 cents more per gallon, which is well outweighed by the fuel economy.

    Show me a gas truck or any vehicle that can do even close to that…

  402. I liked your article and all the posts. If you ask anyone who has owned both types of trucks 99% of the time you get a reply that diesel trucks are the only way to go. I have to agree with that advise. Just ask the pros at bend truck repair and they will tell you the same. The answer never changes when you ask experienced truck owners.

  403. sushidog

    Michael, I replaced a turbo cartridge (all moving parts) several years ago. The part only cost me $750 and I did all the work myself. Its a shame how much shops charge these days. Some are reputable, but many are not. Some turbo’s are very hard to get to. Fortunately, mine was not. Nevertheless, a day’s labor at $75-$100 an hour will eat you alive.

    Yes diesels cost much more to repair, but it helps if you can do at least some of the maintenance and repairs yourself. I find that most people choose diesels for their superior power, not the economy. Their better fuel economy is usually offset by their higher initial cost, maintenance and repair costs, with the edge going to the diesel in power and reliability rather than economy. IMHO


  404. I have a 2004 F350 DRW which I bought used with 38000 miles, I have a 28ft Starwood LX 5th wheel I average around 13 mpg. Now at 52000 miles the turbo packed up,(Carbon build up) replacement was just shy of 2,500 I was told that this is a common problem, so I am now undecided whether to stay with a diesel or switch to the gas engine.
    Maintenance costs with the diesel are higher than gas also diesel is a higher price
    I like the power and ease of towing with the diesel but hate the thought of having further turbo problems .

  405. sushidog

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the price differential and availability of diesel fuel vs gas. In Louisiana, where I live, diesel fuel is now 10% more than gas, but a year ago it was about 20% more. That’s not to say that diesel isn’t more efficient, just that this say 15% cost differential needs to be taken into account in all calculations. Also add the cost and availability of urea which is now required for new emmision controls(on all US deisels manufactured after Jan 1, 2010.) Also remember that the newer emmission controlled deisel engines are less efficient than the older, un-restricted ones.

    Another consideration is availability. If you only travel on Interstates or major highways and stop in citys, the availability of diesel and urea is not an issue. If however you routinely travel on secondary roads, it may be a problem, especially in the wee hours of the morning when the one gas station in town that sells deisel fuel is closed. If you have sufficient fuel capacity and plan ahead, this can be worked around, however remember that every little one-horse town on the map usually has gas, but far fewer have diesel, and even less urea, especially in remote areas where I like to camp.


  406. I bought a diesel pusher from Charlotte RV Service down and Florida and couldn’t be happier! Its my first one so I can compare it to gas but its a 2005 Fleetwood Revolution and for its size and comfort gets great gas mileage and has plenty of power.

  407. I bought a 1998 Dodge Ram 1500 with 360 Hemi and a 251 Catlina Trailer. We pulled with this unit until Summer of 2007. Truck had plenty of power we averaged around 8.5 mpg, Usually drove 60mph. We purchased a 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 with a cummins diesel. Same trailer, Mileage veries depending on terrain and wind but this summer we pulled through the Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina and we averaged 14.5. Round trip of 3000 miles. The truck has made as high as 25mpg without load from our home to Ann Arbor MI and back with no tow load. My vote is Diesel.

  408. Buy diesel for the long hauls and tow capacity. Buy gas for the shorter trips and if you don’t plan on doing cross country trips often. Now days some diesels are just as inexpensive as gas motorhomes.

  409. ChuckL


    Ford has the highest towing ratings in the pickup truck industry. Is this Chevy dealer comparing a Chevy 2500 HD with a diesel engine to the Ford Gasoline engine?

    I’ve got no axe in this deal, but the salesman sure sounds to me like he sells by bad-mouthing the opposition. A bowling ball will smash a ping-pong ball every time. Many RV manufacturers are now offering the Ford Powe-Stroke diesel also.

    OTOH, if the RV you want only comes with a choice between the Ford V-10 gasoline and the Workhorse diesel, take the diesel. You’ll like the way it drives in the mountains much better.

  410. Doug

    Im looking at a 2006 class A- 37ft motor home with a Ford V10. I am beeing told by a sales person in the RV buisness not to consider the v10 for any class A over 32 ft.due to wieght.towing and being underpowered. he said i need to look for the chevy workhorse since the ford v10 will not pull well with the tranny it has.
    During my search i found that the 2006 V10 has improved and is now a three valve sytem. with a 5 speed tranyy…i understand its not the allison as chevy but???? Any coment will be appreciated.,

    thanks Doug

  411. Erik

    I’m in the same boat as Jason. Wife’s graduating with her Master’s this spring and we want to load the kids up and take the summer to road trip. My 4Runner can’t pull a trailer big enough for comfort, not to mention the kids being cramped in the 4Runner. In my $20K +/-, I’m looking at clean old ’93 Bounders at about $13,500, or a ’93 Monaco DP at $22K. Both are about 34′. I’m leaning toward the DP because I intend to trailer and tow the 4Runner. It seems that picking up a $1,200 car trailer that I can resell later is a better investment than all the stuff to 4-down tow the 4Runner or my accord.

    I should mention I plan to roadtrip across the US from the west coast to east coast this summer. Other than maybe getting in a weekend or 2 before, that cross-country trip is going to be the first trip. We’re leaving and not coming back. We expect to pick a new state over the summer as my wife interviews with hospitals for management slots. Given that we’ll be basically full-timing it this summer with stops at relatives homes for visits, and towing the car trailer, and heading out almost first thing for a many thousand mile trip the Monaco DP seems the safer bet for reliability and comfort.

    If we all find we can’t stand living in such close quarters we may even be selling the MH in a year or 2. The Bounders seem a good deal today for what it is, but the NADA values stink. Whereas the Monaco DP at $22K is about 8K under low NADA. The DP is the gentleman’s 3rd RV, and they’ve had it for 8 years, putting about 40K miles on it. The DP now has about 95K miles, whereas the Bounder only has about 55K. I’ve seen at least 2 MH with new 454’s at this mile range. I’d hate to get out on my cross country trip and have the engine fail. A replacement 454 would just about negate the savings if things went that wrong.

    Thoughts? Thanks much!

  412. Jason Miller

    I have decided I want a diesel motorhome. After driving diesel and gas, I really like the ride and quietness of a diesel coach. However, my salesman is trying really hard to talk me into a gas. He thinks I won’t drive it enough and there is so much more to go wrong with a diesel. I am looking to buy a nice used diesel around 1999 or 2000. The salesman is telling me how much more I can get by going with gas. What do you think? Thanks!

  413. Scott


    Performance, durability, and maitenance wise, it’s about a wash between the Vortec 8.1 and Triton 6.8. Drivability wise, there’s some differences. The 8.1 is a big block V-8 and produces its torque at lower RPMs, and the torque curve is really flat. It’s also mated to an Allison 6-speed with two overdrive gears, so it normally runs at a realitively low RPM at highway speeds. The Triton 6.8 is a smaller displacement V-10, using the same bore and stroke of Ford’s 5.4 Triton V-8 and has a torque curve that looks more like a hill. As a result, it needs to turn more RPM’s, but it does have a higher HP rating.

    For most it comes down to a personal choice of having either a larger somewhat lazy feeling engine, that will pull hard from 1600 RPMS, or a higher reving engine that’s quicker to respond and downshift more often when needed.

  414. Karen

    Now that I’m totally confused, maybe somebody can help me with a decision.
    I’m looking at buying a 35 ft. Toy Hauler motorhome with a 6.8 liter Triton, or maybe a 35 ft. Class C with a diesel.
    Would anyone know what the difference in gas mileage would be? And which would be a better choice in gas engines, the Triton or an 8.1 liter Vortec?
    Thank you for any help.


  415. daniel Tousignant

    Gas vs diesel is a very interesting subject and need more though. So I will appreciate some guidances. I will buy a Gulfstream Bounty Hunter probably next year. Reason is for the built in garage of course. It is offered with gas engines, Ford V-10 or 8.1 liters Workhorse, or a diesel made by Cummins on a Freightliner chassis. All are having nearly the same horsepower. It will be very interesting to see a comparison test of the three in the exact same conditions. I hope Gulfstream will have the guts to propose it. I will appreciate constructive recommendations and your evaluation of what gas milleage I could expect from the different versions. My intend is to do approximately 5 to 10 thousands miles per year and to keep it for more than ten years. If you know of any good road test with documented fuel consumption I will appreciate any references.
    Regards to all haapy rvers.

  416. bobvelon

    I love the debate between gas or diesel. I can only speak from my experience with my diesel motorhome. At 65 miles an hour I get 10.8 miles per gallon. If I drive 55 I get 12.4 miles per gallon. We have traveled with friends that have gas engined motorhomes and they get between 5 to 6 miles per gallon. I probably paid more for a diesel engine but given the economy and longer engine life I feel I made the right choice.

    When we first bought this motorhome, a Rockwood on a Sparten chassis, it had a differential of 3:73. I regeared it to 3:23. I think I did the right thing in doing that. My price for diesel is higher here in California than other states so feel I am really being ripped off. When on vacation last May of 2007 we paid about the same for diesel as those using unleaded.


  417. Dave Supinski

    To the best of my knowledge and what I’ve been told, the higher cost of deisel as compared to gas has mostly to do with government taxes being higher on deisel because of trucks using our highway. So 1.truckers have to charge more to cover their costs; 2. We have to pay more for everything they deliver if we want or need it; 3. The government keeps taking what they make from every gallon and mostly spend it wastefully; 4. We all complain but can’t drill for our own oil so we can protect the caribou! It all makes perfect sense, don’t you think?????????

  418. Wayne

    David, did I miss something on diesel engines? If memory serves me the two strokes of the diesel you mention would be for two stroke Detroit engines(maybe others). Most current diesel engines are 4 stroke. Emissions and stuff. I never even realized they made a 2 stroke diesel until I started looking at coaches for m/h conversion. Then it made sense on the difference in sound. Good info in you post. I own a 2005 Duramax Dually and a 37′ Holiday Rambler. Can’t imagine trying to pull it with a big block gasser as I ran across the scales at 25,700lbs. Mileage wasn’t real high but then I was in a hurry. Still got 10-11mpg in the mountains so I’m pleased.

  419. Tim

    What happened to the price of diesel these last few years?? It was always cheaper to buy than gas for many years. According to a friend ithat works in a refinery it takes less refining than gas. Are we getting taken advantage of?

  420. Thomas, I have a question for you. You had a V-10 gas engine and a diesel on the same hill and clearly demonstrated that the diesel had more overall pulling power. The question is: was the diesel a Turbo? High altitude is notorious for sapping power from a normally-aspirated engine. Direct injection helps to reduce this effect, but Turbo almost completely eliminates it. Of course, Turbo also means it uses more fuel when you are demanding that power.

    As you say, the added performance and “jake brake” are definitely worth the added cost.

  421. Darrel:

    Apologies if you took my statements as an insult, they weren’t intended as such. I did clearly state that I didn’t know how you drove or what you did, but made guesses based on what you described. I’m trying to be supportive here, not antagonistic.

  422. Bob Difley

    How does the coming availability of bio-diesel affect the equation? Would buying a diesel motorhome now looking forward to running bio-diesel without having to make any modifications to the engine tilt the decision over to the diesel, since with a gasoline engine you are stuck with petroleum up to only a 10% ethanol mix? To convert a gas engine to accept flex fuels (up to 85% ethanol) requires expensive modifications. And doesn’t the resale value of a diesel offset the initially higher price? I currently drive a gas motorhome, but am seriously considering moving to diesel.

  423. Thomas Becher

    Picture this. 2004 Ford F250 V-10 30! fiver 8500 ft Selected low gear foot to the floor and 15 miles an hour. Two years later 2007 Chev duramax allison same fiver ,same road , as fast and as easy as I cared to drive.My overall trip of 8500 miles came to the diesal costing me .03 cents less not 3cents but 3 tenths miles per gal. So when and if some major service comes the diesel will cost more but the added performance and the built in “jake brake” is worth every penny.

  424. David, your assumptions about my driving habits and what we do couldn’t be further from fact. We have never, ever went to an antique/comics/baseball card show nor do we ever intend to do that. We have a slightly more interesting life that that 😉 Darrel,

  425. Hmmm… A lot of commentary each way, though apparently biased towards Gas. I would like to respond to each, if I may.

    Larry: I personally think we need to start looking in a different direction. Yes, I can see both gas and diesel running for a long time yet, but there are people out there right now that are proving that electric is really far more efficient in many ways. A reciprocating engine literally wastes a lot of the power the fuel itself generates by the incessant starting, stopping and reversing of each cylinder. In a gas engine, one shot of fuel has to drive that cylinder through four complete strokes. In a diesel engine, that same shot only has to drive the cylinder through two, realizing more push at lower speeds. However, electric does not require any stop-and-start motions at all, being completely rotary, thus providing power full-time and requiring as a result less than a quarter of the horsepower that a fuel engine produces.

    Darrel 1st: Yes, you’re right. A gasoline engine is much cheaper. But its average lifespan is only a little over 100,000 miles, maybe as much as 125,000 when taking all engines into account. At an average of 60mph, This equates to approximately 70 days of steady running. I will acknowledge however, that maintaining a steady speed for a long time is much less wearing than the stop-and-go environment most gasolines live in.
    On the other hand, the average diesel engine is designed for 10,000 hours or more before requiring a rebuild, roughly 6x as long as a gasoline engine. This makes part of the economy of a diesel a given. In fact, this is why the railroads started the switch from Steam to diesel back in the 1930s. The other part is that they realized that electric motors provided maximum torque at 0mph, where the power is usually needed the most. A diesel locomotive rated at 1500 horsepower can pull a load equivalent to over 100 tractor-trailer rigs running 350hp diesel engines each. Of course, today’s locomotives are rated at 4500hp or more. The economy is there, but you can’t see it in the same way you do gasoline.

    Bruce: Essentially, you’re right, diesel economy is better, depending on how you drive it. Darrel’s second comment tries to dispute this, but when you figure his diesel coach is also pulling roughly 5,000 pounds (or more) behind a 10,000 pound coach with an engine little bigger than the one in your F250, you can see where he’s losing out. He doesn’t point out that he’s getting 60% better fuel mileage with his diesel, but rather that he’s only getting 5mpg. His numbers without the trailer are slightly suspect because I don’t know his driving style. If (for example) he tends to drive the coach unloaded at 75mph, then he’s not going to do as well as, say, 65mph. There are too many variables in his comparison. Even so, he proves that the savings he does get is worth almost $2000 per year over the gasoline engine.

    Ian: You bring up a good point, but you also point out one of the drawbacks as well. At 4.88 final drive ratio (what you call rear-axle ratio) it takes less torque to start a load rolling but a lot more rpm to maintain speed through the average automatic transmission. As you shift gears, it takes more power to realize the same torque on the ground. At that rate, high gear would have to be a much, much lower ratio to the driveshaft, possibly as low .8:1 engine-to-driveshaft. It is very possible that transmission ratios need to be changed in order to have the engine running at its best economy at road speeds. Changing the final drive ratio alone changes the rest of the power curve more drastically than any one gear in the transmission.

    Wayne: Your comment impacts directly on Darrel’s comment after yours. My guess is that Darrel is edging or even exceeding the GVWR when pulling his trailer, which is why he only gets 5mpg instead of the 7 to 9 I expect he should be getting.

    Darrel2: I’m happy to see that you are realizing the potential savings of Diesel. But I think you can do more by modifying your driving and towing habits. I don’t know your particular circumstances, but I wonder if you can’t reduce the load somewhat in your trailer or find a way to reduce drag on the coach/trailer/combination. I’ve read of and seen different air-spoiling techniques designed for larger vehicles. I’d recommend analyzing some and perhaps adopting one to improve your mileage.
    I commented above that I suspect your driving habits may be one reason your mileage isn’t average; I do not mean to imply insult. Instead, experiment while you are on the road. Measure the gas mileage between points A and B driving your normal way, then try reducing your speed (or maybe increasing) by 5mph. Over a longer run of 200 miles or more, the mileage should become obvious whether its higher or lower and you can further adjust accordingly.
    The fact that you tow such a large trailer leads me to believe that you A: live out of your coach and B: frequent the antique/comics/baseball card shows in shopping malls around the country. As such, an experiment as I outline should be easy for you. If I’m wrong, considering the mileage you report, you should be able to work out a variation of the experiment easily enough. This alone could help you realize even more savings from your diesel.

    My own views on the matter are simple: different technology is needed if RVers want to stay on the road in today’s high fuel prices. While others are trying to create new and different technologies that in the short run will be more expensive and less reliable, I believe that the most efficient technology–at least for now–is already riding on roads of steel. It shouldn’t be that hard to convert it to highway use. In a way, GM is; but the Volt is essentially a prototype. As that technology gains experience on the highways, I think ways will be found to make it more powerful and less expensive at the same time.

  426. When we were thinking of buying a diesel motorhome a LOT of people said we would get double or more the mileage with the diesel. That did not happen. We got 3 mpg with our 8.1L gas motorhome and we are getting 5 with our diesel. Yes we pull a big trailer with those numbers. Without the trailer we got about 6 and 8 respectively. So at the current fuel prices it costs us $30.65 less per hundred miles with our diesel. Hmmm, now that I actually figure it even though we only put on about 6000 miles per year now we are saving $1839.00 per year with the diesel. I would doubt that it costs that much more to operate and maintain the diesel vs. gas so I’ll retract that statement. Darrel,

  427. Wayne K

    You’ve forgotten to mention one a very important point. I think in most cases there is a good deal of difference between the tow rating, Most diesel chassis are set up to tow 10,000 lbs. An awful lot of gas OWNERS IGNORE the rating and pull what they want. I consider this the same as pulling a 6500 lb truck or hummer with a 5000 lb tow bar.

  428. Good article but it omits the factor of the rear axle ratio which has a large effect on pulling power and fuel economy. I have a diesel so I don’t know how this figures in for gas.
    I would dearly like to find a power vs fuel economy curve (substitute RPM or speed for power) but have been unable to locate such through Google or Ford (I have an F-550 DRW, 6.0 L diesel with a 4.88:1 axle ratio.Got any suggestions?

  429. Bruce

    Every gasoline engine person I have spoken with in our travels admits that the diesel engine gets better gas mileage. My 2001 Ford F250 7.3 diesel has got as much as 15.7 mpg pulling my 32′ fifth wheel. That mpg was on fairly level highways, the mountain areas it averages 12.5 according to my factory computer readout. The better gas mileage and the longevity of the engine makes the diesel my personal choice.

  430. This is very easy. Gas engines cost less period. To buy, maintain, operate and repair. There is no debate about this at all. Other than that the diesel is great. Diesel engines will last much longer than gas engines but you could buy several gas engines with what it would cost to replace a diesel engine. We like our Diesel a LOT mostly because it is in the back of the motorhome and we don’t have to listen to it. Also we like the diesel chassis better than our gas was. Darrel,

  431. Larry

    Very good comparison and information! Gas or diesel??? The battle goes on…..hopefully we will be able to afford to drive either one in the next few years.