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Gas Mileage on Motorhomes: Ultimate Guide for 2024

Are you in the market for a new motorhome? The layout, living space, bathroom, and kitchen facilities are things you’ll think about. But for most new motorhome owners, fuel efficiency is a top priority.

Owning a motorhome is a sizeable investment and not just the initial cost. There’s maintenance to consider, repairs, possible upgrades, and winterizing, which all come at a price. So it makes sense to try and save some money on running costs.

As we all know, fuel can be very expensive, and gas prices go up far more often than they go down.

If you find a motorhome with good fuel economy, you can enjoy RVing more often and travel further for your adventures.

In this guide and article, you’ll find out the fuel economy or mpg for different types of motorhomes you can expect. You’ll also discover how to improve your motorhome’s fuel economy.

What’s The Average Fuel Mileage For Motorhomes (MPG)?

What’s The Average Fuel Mileage For Motorhomes?

You can expect American-style recreational vehicles running on gas/petrol to get an average of 6-10 miles per gallon. On the other hand, a European made diesel camper or RV will achieve a mile-per-gallon range of 25-35mpg.

The average mpg varies for all the classes. The size and how much motorhomes weigh and even rolling resistance influence fuel economy. Gas mileage tends to be worse for larger and heavier motorhomes. Believe it or not, fuel economy is also affected by a motorhome’s aerodynamics. Finally, a diesel RV will improve your average mileage per gallon because diesel engines are more fuel-efficient.

What is the Fuel Mileage for Different Classes of Motorhomes?

Within the three motorhome vehicle classes, there are significant differences in terms of size and weight.

There is no simple average class mpg figure, but it is possible to give a general estimate for the fuel efficiency of each RV class.

Class A Motorhome Gas Mileage

Class A motorhomes are the worst in terms of miles per gallon because of their size, which is a huge factor in fuel economy. They are typically large and have a box-like body with flat sides.

The large size and flat features typical of Class A vehicles make for increased resistance on the road. It’s not a sleek build and needs more energy to overcome its heavy weight and keep it moving. The flat front of the RV offers a lot of resistance to wind, making it difficult for the wind to move around or glide off the vehicle.

The fact that Class A motorhomes are so heavy also works against them in terms of better fuel economy. American RVs weigh an average of 17500kg, and the engine must move that weight.

European motorhomes have to strictly abide by the emissions regulations and the manufacturer must reduce the vehicle weight and increase the engine efficiency which contributes to motor homes complying. European motorhomes push the weigth down to 3500kg – 7500kg

The average mpg for a European Class A motorhome is around 25 miles per gallon, remember, American RVs will be expected to use more gas due to their overall weight.

Let’s give you a few examples:

  • Hymer B534 – 26 mpg
  • Rapido 8094DF – 23 mpg
  • Pilote Galaxy G600 – 26 mpg
  • Burstner Elegance i821 – 18 mpg

Class B Motorhome Gas Mileage

Class B Motorhome Gas Mileage

You can expect the best gas mileage from Class B motorhomes (also know as campervans) because they are sleek and smaller RVs. The front is slanted, much more aerodynamic and streamlined.

The vehicle’s sloping front roof means this smaller class gets better mileage. The engine doesn’t need to work as hard as in a Class A or Class C motorhome.

Another positive factor is the fact that Class B motorhomes are the lightest of all the classes. The engine doesn’t need to work so much, which gives them more pull and improves the mileage.

The average mileage for a Class B motorhome is around 30-40 miles per gallon.

Let’s give you a few examples:

  • Swift Select 184 – 30 mpg – 17 mpg
  • VW Camper King – 39 mpg
  • Autosleeper Kingham – 28 mpg
  • Elddis CV20 – 30 mpg
  • Ford Custom Nugget – 40 mpg

Class C Motorhome Gas Mileage

Class C motorhomes come in second place for the best mileage per gallon because of their weight and build. Class C motorhomes have a similar build to Class Bs but have worse gas mileage because of a few factors.

Class C motorhomes are sleek, with a smooth front end, but some have a sleeping area stacked on top of the cab to provide more space, which is not a very aerodynamic feature and obstructs the airflow over the vehicle.

The lower profile (without the overcab bed) coachbuilt would give the best mpg in the class as they are sleeker and more aerodynamic.

The average for a European Class C motorhome (also known as Coachbuilt) is around 25 miles per gallon.

Let’s give you a few examples:

  • Elddis Autoquest 115 – 29 mpg
  • Swift Bolero 683 – 27 mpg
  • Rollerteam Autoroller 746 – 24.5 mpg
  • Bailey Autograph 750 – 26 mpg
  • Chausson Welcome 727GA – 25 mpg

Which Motorhome Gets the Best Gas Mileage?

Out of all three types of motorhomes, Class B comes out on top in terms of the best gas mileage.

Coming in a close second are the Class C motorhomes.

In last place are Class A motorhomes. You can generally expect the worst mileage with the purchase of one of these.

What Factors Affect the Gas Mileage of a Motorhome?

What Factors Affect the Gas Mileage of a Motorhome?

How many miles per gallon you get from your motorhome depends on many factors, including how you drive it.

For example, you get optimal fuel economy when driving at a steady 50-60 mph in a straight line (obviously, staying within speed limits).

If you find yourself driving uphill, on unpaved roads or similar terrain, or stop-go driving in heavily populated areas, fuel economy will be at its worst.

The gas mileage improves when you are on flat, straight roads, going downhill or coasting on the open road.

What other factors make motorhomes inefficient? The top factors are listed below.

Motorhome Weight

As you might have already guessed, the larger your motorhome, the lower its gas mileage. Motorhomes are large and can accommodate you and your family.

The motorhome is quite heavy and weight makes a big difference to economy. European motorhomes tend to sit a 3,000 – 4,000kg even when they’re parked and empty.

Such a heavy motorhome weight means the engine has to work super hard to move it and your trappings around.

Motorhome Size

You’re going to want enough room to move around and be comfortable. But spacious motorhomes come at a bit of a cost.

The size of your motorhome determines the amount of gas/diesel it uses. A larger vehicle means poorer fuel economy.

It’s not just the size in general even though more suface area means more air resistance. The length and shape of your motorhome also contribute to its fuel efficiency. Longer and boxier motorhomes have worse economy.

Turbocharging

Almost all European Diesel motorhomes have turbochargers. These improve the volumetric efficiency of the engine which is why a 2.3 Straight-4 Fiat Motorhome will produce as much power as a lazy American V6 engine. Modern European tuborcharged engines are much more fuel efficient that their huge displacement American cousins.

Direct Fuel Injection

All modern European Diesel motorhomes have high pressure fuel injectors. The computer controlled timing and metering of fuel injection makes these engines much more efficient. Low pressure mechanical fuel injection found in huge woefully underpowered V8s which are fitted to American RVs are not very fuel efficient.

Horsepower

Horsepower is a factor in a vehicle’s fuel consumption. The more horsepower an engine has, the higher the fuel consumption.

Most motorhomes are provided with an engine horsepower that matched the weight and resistance. Remapping the engine or having it upgraded to an unecessary peak horsepower will probably reduce the economy.

Tire Pressure

Ensuring your tires are inflated correctly for the current weight is important. When your motorhome is fully loaded, increasing the tires pressure to compensate will give better mpg and handling. When the motorhome is empty it will drive better if the tires pressure is reduced. Always make sure your tires are in good condition and the pressure is within the manufacturer recommendations.

Weather

Driving your motorhome in cold weather and winter driving conditions can significantly reduce fuel economy. In city driving, for example, it can be 15% lower at -5°C than it would be at 25°C. For short trips of 3-4 miles, it can drop by as much as 24%.

Driving Behaviour

Your driving style has a significant impact on fuel economy. If you like to put your pedal to the metal as soon as the light turns green, expect it to reduce the engine’s fuel efficiency. Having a lead foot in a motorhome really hurts your economy.

Тowing a Car Behind Your Motorhome

Тowing a Car Behind Your Motorhome

If you regularly tow with your motorhome, you probably notice a drop in its fuel economy. Even if you’re towing a compact and lightweight car, the engine has to work more because of the extra weight in tow.

Towing caravans, even a lightweight one, mean the engine does more work and consumes more fuel, reducing fuel efficiency.

Tyre Pressure

Even slightly underinflated tyres can significantly impact a motorhome’s mpg performance. Low tyre pressure expands the tyre’s footprint and increases the weight placed on the tread, resulting in increased weight, friction and drag, which means the engine has to work harder.

On a long journey, incorrect tyre pressure can result in between one and five fewer miles per gallon.

Can Air And Fuel Filters Affect Motorhome MPG?

For a combustion engine to work efficiently, it requires clean fuel and air mixed in the correct ratios. If the air and fuel filters are dirty, it gradually impacts the engine performance and fuel efficiency.

Older petrol-powered engines in motorhomes typically suffer from carbon deposits and engine wear, which also affect performance.

Doing the following will adversely affect the lifespan of the filters:

  • Regularly driving on dusty roads
  • Driving where the pollen count is high
  • Frequently running your tank down until the fuel warning light activates

Do Diesel Motorhomes Get Better Mileage Than Gas Motorhomes?

If fuel economy is a big concern, consider a diesel rather than a petrol-powered motorhome. Diesel engines get better mileage.

  • Diesel supplies 10% to 15% more power than petrol, which helps a diesel-powered RV to be more efficient.
  • A diesel motorhome will be 20% to 35% more efficient than a petrol-powered motorhome.
  • You’ll be able to travel further in a diesel-powered motorhome than a petrol motorhome on the same amount of fuel.

How to Get Better Gas Mileage in Your Motorhome?

How to Get Better Motorhome Gas Mileage?

With all this talk about motorhome inefficiency, you might think that you can’t do anything other than suck it up and pay the fuel costs. Lucky for you, doing the following will improve your motorhome’s gas mileage and help in saving gas:

  • Packing Light: The lighter your motorhome, the more fuel-efficient it becomes. Anything you put inside your motorhome will increase its weight and decrease fuel efficiency, so try to travel as light as possible.
  • Motorhome Maintenance: general maintenance is important not just for the life of your vehicle but also for better gas mileage. It helps the petrol/diesel//gas engine function efficiently. Regular maintenance should include:
    • Checking tyre pressure
    • Engine tune-ups
    • Fluid checks & topping up
    • Replacing brake pads/discs
    • Tyre rotation and replacement
    • Cleaning (internal and external)
  • Slow Down: The optimum speed for the best fuel economy is around 55-60 mph. For the best fuel mileage possible, keep control of your accelerator foot.
  • Go Smaller for Better Efficiency: Smaller motorhomes are more fuel-efficient. A Class B motorhome offers the best fuel economy.
  • Benefit from Cruise Control: If not using cruise control, your driving speed fluctuates more. Fluctuations make the engine pull harder because it is continually making adjustments. Set the cruise control so that driving speed won’t fluctuate as much, and overall fuel mileage will improve.
  • Avoid Traffic: When in traffic, it’s a continual stop-go driving style. Fluctuations like these consume more fuel and decrease the average mpg. Try to stick to less populated areas. Urban driving, in particular, will guzzle up fuel.
  • Drive Smoothly: Rough driving is something else that can contribute to poor gas mileage. Driving on bumpy roads or off-road dramatically reduces your vehicle’s mpg.
  • Avoid Excessive Air Conditioning: While it might make driving more comfortable if you’ve got the air conditioning unit on, when the AC is running, it pulls on the engine. It doesn’t pull as much as some other factors in this list, but it can cost you around 1 mpg.
  • Don’t Leave The Engine Running: Quite a small factor, but still something that makes a difference. Admittedly, leaving the engine running consumes less fuel than when it’s moving your motorhome, but it will still impact overall fuel mileage.
  • Motorhome Tyres & Inflation Levels: Under-inflated tyres can lower gas mileage. In contrast, correctly inflated tyres boost gas mileage and also help them last longer. The actual tyres themselves can also be critical when trying to optimise fuel economy. It’s best to choose tyres that are durable but lightweight. Upsizing your wheels can also improve things.
  • Get The Junk Out Of The Boot: While it’s very tempting to take everything with you, including the kitchen sink, think about what you’re packing because all the weight reduces your mileage per gallon.
  • Use The Recommended Motor Oil: There are plenty of motor oils to choose from, but you want the one best suited for your motorhome. Stick with the manufacturer’s recommended oil, and if you can’t find what’s on their list, ask about alternatives.
  • Give The Brakes A Break: Try to maintain a steady speed and avoid suddenly stopping or regularly applying the brakes. Gentle acceleration and a steady pace mean your engine is less stressed and has better fuel economy.
  • Replace Dirty Air Filters: Clean air filters allow the engine to draw air freely. Dust, dirt, and other particles clogging up the filters make your motorhome work harder and reduce efficiency.
  • Fill Your Tank Early in The Morning or Late at Night: Petrol is more dense in the morning. As the temperature rises during the day, the molecules expand and you get less fuel for your money.
  • Consider Downsizing: A smaller motorhome will generally be more fuel efficient because of its smaller size and lower weight.
  • Plan your journey: The further you drive, the more fuel your motorhome consumes, so it makes sense to take the time and plan your route exactly. Try to avoid winding roads and those that have several stops. Minimise the miles you drive and try to avoid routes that involve lots of accelerating and decelerating.
  • Water tanks: Make sure you only travel with a small amount of fresh water to cover your need while you’re travelling. Make sure your grey and black tanks are empty.

How To Calculate Gas Mileage (MPG)

How To Calculate Gas Mileage (MPG)

To help you gauge how much fuel your motorhome is using, follow these steps.

  • Fill up the fuel tank to the cutoff level.
  • Reset the trip computer.
  • Drive until your fuel gauge tells you to add fuel.
  • Fill up again to the same cutoff level.
  • Record how many gallons it takes to re-fill and the miles covered on the trip counter.
  • Reset the motorhome’s trip computer.
  • The formula to calculate gas mileage is as follows: Miles driven ÷ gallons used to refill the tank.

For example:

If the trip counter shows 250 miles since your last fill-up and it took 20 gallons to refill the tank, your mpg is 250 ÷ 20 = 12.5 mpg.

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding your motorhome’s fuel economy is crucial for your wallet, the lifespan of your vehicle, and the environment. The factors influencing it are numerous and diverse, from the type of motorhome to your driving habits and even the time of day you choose to refuel.

While it may seem like a daunting task, with the right tools and a proactive approach, you can significantly improve your gas mileage. Adopt the tips outlined in this guide and consistently track your motorhome’s performance, and you can transform your travelling experience, making it more cost-effective and eco-friendly.

So, before you embark on your next journey, take a moment to evaluate these strategies and see how they can make a difference in your motorhome’s fuel economy. After all, every gallon saved is a step towards more sustainable and enjoyable travel experiences.

FAQ

What’s the best way to save on fuel in my Motorhome?

You can do many things to save on fuel when enjoying a road trip in your motorhome. Here are some suggestions:

  • The most fuel-efficient speed is between 55 and 65 miles per hour
  • Driving consistently will cut your fuel expenditure
  • Keep your tyres correctly inflated
  • Pack light
  • Find the best petrol station for the cheaper gas when re fueling

2 thoughts on “Gas Mileage on Motorhomes: Ultimate Guide for 2024

  1. If you’re gonna plagiarise somebody else’s article, then at least translate it first, FFS.

    This is a UK site, with a UK contact address, yet the article was clearly written by an American.

    1. The content is written to get people to spend time on the page reading it. As much as it isn’t relevant to a motorhome dealer in the UK, having US themed articles means more engagement. There are no rules governing the content we choose to release, it is for you to choose if you feel it is relevant to you.

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