Looking to get the most out of your gas mileage on the road? Although RVs aren’t known for their efficiency when you compare to a lighter vehicle, there are plenty of ways you can optimize the performance of your rig. Over the long haul, every mile saved can really add up.
1: Drive slowly and consistently for better mileage.
On average, the most fuel-efficient speed for RVs is between 55mph and 65mph. The faster and more aggressively you accelerate, the more gas you’ll waste just getting up to speed. Slow, steady acceleration and deceleration are easier on your engine, your brakes, and your wallet. Where you can, use cruise control to help keep your speed consistent over time. Bottom line, don’t drive your RV like you’d drive a car--drive it like you would drive a semi-truck, taking your time to get up to speed and leaving lots of room to coast to a stop.
2: Schedule regular service.
It’s shocking how much little things can add up when it comes to decreasing fuel efficiency. For instance, a dirty air filter can reduce efficiency by as much as 10 percent. Tires underinflated by 10 psi will decrease fuel efficiency by 2 percent per mile. And skipping a simple engine tune up could cost 20 percent of your fuel efficiency. Put them all together, and you’re looking at a significant dent in your budget, not to mention your carbon footprint.
Take your RV in for regular maintenance before you hit the road. Along the way, map out places where you can take your RV for oil changes, tune-ups and quick fixes, just in case you encounter any unexpected challenges on the road.
3: Keep your tires at optimum inflation.
The ideal inflation for your RV will depend on the size and weight of your rig; check your RV manual for guidance on what your psi should be. If you’re renting or borrowing an RV, or your manual is nowhere to be found, the recommended psi can often be found printed on the sides of your tires. We suggest checking your tires every time you fill up your tank--something you can do anywhere with a $2 tire gauge. It has the added bonus of making you look like a real road pro in front of friends and family.
4. Shop around for gas.
Although the cost of gas doesn’t strictly influence how much you need to get around, it can affect your travel budget. Fuel costs can vary widely from one town or state to the next. We recommend downloading a fuel price app like GasBuddy or Waze to help optimize your stops to get the best deals along your route. Use the money you save on gas over time to help keep your RV maintained and running smoothly.
5. Rethink your load.
Every item you pack has a quantifiable cost on your trip. For every pound you haul, you use a little more fuel. So, if you’re trying to maximize every mile, take a hard look at what you’re carrying in your RV and be ruthless about cutting down. The longer your journey, the more every ounce adds up.
But traveling light is really about priorities. You don’t need to ditch your kayak just because it’s heavy; if you use it regularly, it’s a source of joy and that may be worth the cost. But you may find that other items in your RV aren’t as important to you--old books, skis in the off-season, a large stock of supplies that could be easily replaced as you go. Cut the dead weight and watch your fuel efficiency rise. (And if you have a permanent residence, many local libraries offer a huge catalog of ebooks you can borrow and read on your tablet or phone, wherever you are.)