How to Improve Your Motorhome’s MPG

motorhome MPG

Go further and longer than ever before with these 10 motorhome fuel-saving tips

Motorhomes are notorious gas guzzlers, but high fuel prices don’t have to put a damper on your travel fun. By keeping your van or RV properly maintained and planning carefully, you can limit the amount you spend on fuel while traveling. Newer vehicles, in particular, are significantly more fuel efficient than they used to be, but you can still add to that by taking a few extra measures.

Campervans Get Better MPG

The main enemy of a fuel efficient vehicle is weight, so it’s no wonder why big vans loaded down with all of your travel items are less fuel efficient. Campervans and class B motorhomes are more fuel efficient than large motorcoach RVs simply for the fact that they weigh considerably less.

If you own a campervan or class B, then some additional tips include the following:

  • Make sure your torque converter locks properly so that RPMs drop at speeds of 40 to 45 mph.
  • Avoid too much idling, and turn your van off when parked .
  • Use cruise control liberally on the highway.
  • Don’t pack excessive weight. Bring only what you need.
  • Keep tires properly inflated and the engine air filter clean.

10 Top Tips to Improve Your Travel Vehicle’s MPG

The following tips apply to ALL sizes and classes of travel vehicles and can help you get better gas mileage across the board:

  1. Keep an eye on tire air levels. Not only do underinflated tires reduce your gas mileage, but they wear out quicker as well. If you tend to forget to check your tires regularly, consider investing in a tire pressure monitor to alert you.
  1. Keep up with oil changes. Good quality oil will greatly reduce the wear and tear on your engine and maximize your fuel efficiency.
  1. Schedule a tune-up. Getting new plugs and wires can make an immediate difference and allow your engine to run more efficiently. You might also consider switching to a high-flow air filter to give your engine more air. An engine with proper air and spark plugs uses gas more efficiently.
  1. Upgrade your exhaust system. Stock exhaust systems are often too small and don’t allow engines to run as efficiently as they could. Installing a high-flow muffler on an older model might increase your fuel efficiency.
  1. Avoid idling. It takes less fuel to start your engine than it does to idle for several minutes. When you idle, you’re effectively getting 0 mpg. Turn your engine off if you need to wait for more than a few minutes.
  1. Avoid heavy acceleration. Start out slowly when pressing the gas pedal, and don’t aggressively pass other vehicles on the freeway. While such actions only shave off a few seconds on travel time, they waste a lot of gas unnecessarily. Take your time and enjoy the journey.
  1. Use cruise control whenever possible to maintain a constant speed on interstates and highways. Each time you step on the gas, you’re using a bit more fuel.
  1. Reduce your overall speed. Fuel economy decreases by up to 7 percent for every 5 mph you drive over 65. Consider avoiding the freeway in favor of country back roads with lower speed limits.
  1. Don’t plan to leave, or do much traveling during rush hour times. If you leave with everyone else for a long weekend, you’ll spend much more of your fuel stopped in slow traffic.
  1. Avoid driving in city traffic if possible. There’s nothing worse on campervan fuel economy than stop and go traffic.

Prevent Fuel Theft & Loss

With as much fuel as they usually carry, RVs and camper vans can present an attractive target to fuel thieves. If your vehicle doesn’t have a fuel door that locks, consider putting on a locking gas cap.

Also, according to the Car Care Council, around 147 million gallons of fuel evaporates each year due to vehicles with damaged, loose or missing fuel caps. It’s a good idea to check your gas cap from time to time, and make sure that it’s still providing a tight seal. Gas caps do need to be replaced on a semi-regular basis. Truck stops are good places to find a range of gas caps, from OEM to locking and more.

Pick Good Fuel

Another important consideration when on the road is to fill up with high-grade fuel. Fuel vaporization occurs more often at sea level than at high altitudes. If you buy fuel blended specifically for use at high elevations and then drive down to sea level, you may lose some MPG due to evaporation. Very large RVs may also have large fuel tanks that allow them to travel a long distance on one fill-up, but this could cause drivability issues if the fill-up took place in a local area that matches poorly to your next destination.

Another issue is filling up with diesel at a station that does a low volume of diesel sales. Diesel that sits in storage for a long time can become contaminated. Instead, try to find a fuel station that goes through large amounts of diesel. Your best bets are usually gas stations where semi-trucks regularly fill up.

It’s also important to pick fuel that meets high quality standards. Well-known companies like Chevron, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Texaco, and the like meet higher standards of fuel quality than grocery store or off-brand fuel stations.

Though it may be tempting to put a little extra in your tank, avoid topping off too much. Some pumps have vapor recovery, and the amount you’re trying to put in your tank is instead drawn back into the station’s tank. Overfilling your tank may also saturate granules that line the storage canister, which can affect drivability and eventually ruin the canister.

Try downloading an app like Gas Buddy to check fuel prices along your route and compare between smaller brands and the more popular brands.

Now that you’re armed with the truth about RV and campervan fuel efficiency, you won’t have to consider staying home in the face of high gas prices. Continue browsing our site to find highly efficient and economical campervans for sale at Classic Vans.

For more information about the cost of full-time vanlife, read our article about year-round campervan expenses.