The RV, the perfect way to live life on the open road.
There’s such a romantic appeal to the thought of being able to take the creature comforts of home anywhere in the world. Be it a cross-country family vacation or you just have an itch to spend your life traveling instead of staying in one place, the RV is perfect for both.
In a world full of options and variety, the perspective wanderer has two options, the gas RV or the diesel RV.
If you’re left scratching your head and don’t have any clue where to begin your search, look no further. We are going to break down the gas RV vs. the diesel RV and hopefully help make your decision a little easier.
We are going to start with the price first because it’s often the factor most consider before anything else.
Before you even begin comparing the two, I highly recommend establishing your ideal budget, so you have an idea of where to start.
For the sake of argument, let’s say you’re looking to buy a new RV.
The average price of a brand-new gas RV has an MSRP of approximately $80,000 to $150,000 depending on the options you want to include.
A new diesel RV is considerably more expensive with an average MSRP of $170,000 to $200,000.
Personally, I feel like a diesel RV is a better a better long-term investment because they have higher resale value should you decide to upgrade in the future.
To summarize, the gas RV is the best option if you’re on a budget but the diesel RV cost more but will yield a higher return should you put it on the market in the future.
2. Fuel Economy
Before we go any further let’s acknowledge the fact that fuel is expensive, fuel prices alone can be a huge factor in your decision so let’s look at the average mile per gallon for both engines and a few other fuel economy factors to consider.
- 80 to 150-gallon tank depending on chassis
- Less fuel efficient with an average of eight to ten miles per gallon
- Gas is available at any gas station across the world
- Cheaper than diesel fuel
- Gasoline has a pungent odor when burned, and the smell can fill the cabin on long hauls
- 80 to 120-gallon tank depending on chassis
- Diesel engines burn cleaner than gasoline engines
- Not as volatile as gasoline
- Higher fuel efficiency with an average of eight to 14 miles per gallon
- Diesel is available at most but not all gas stations
3. Upkeep and Mechanical Considerations
Maintenance and the mechanics of the vehicles are where we begin to notice the fundamental differences between the two engine types.
One engine is faster while the other can pull anything up a hill.
Servicing of the two engines couldn’t be more different, one requiring specialized training while the other requires a general knowledge of basic engine repair.
Pay attention because these categories are significant in deciding between the two RVs.
Historically speaking, gas engines are much easier to maintain and repair compared to a diesel engine. If you have a general knowledge of gas engines, you can probably do a bulk of the repairs and maintenance yourself, plus gas engine parts are much easier to find than their counterparts.
The downside of a gas engine is they run at higher RPMs, meaning the engine will always be working harder than a diesel engine, so more frequent upkeep is required to keep your gas RV running at optimum condition.
Diesel RV engines are much more expensive to maintain compared to gas RV engines. If you’ve ever seen a diesel engine, you know they are very complicated and require specialized training to service.
However, diesel engines run at a lower RPM, there is less strain on the engine so you can put in more miles between servicing.
Both RV engines require oil, gas engines use about three times less oil than diesel engines, but you’ll need to change the oil in a gas engine every six months, diesel engines consume more oil but only need to be replaced once a year or every 15,000 miles.
In a gas engine, if you know how to change oil, you can do it yourself, diesel oil changes are more complicated, so you’ll probably have to take it to a professional mechanic to make sure the oil changes are correct.
The braking systems of the two RVs can differ substantially as well.
Most diesel RVs have air brakes due to the increased torque, so if you’re uncomfortable with actuated braking systems when, say, driving on a steep downgrade, you’ll probably be more comfortable with the standard braking operation of a gas RV.
Torque and Horsepower
Here’s where it gets a little tricky.
Gas engines typically have higher horsepower and less torque, so you can accelerate and maintain higher speeds but having less torque adds more strain on the engine while towing and climbing inclines.
Diesel engines are designed for higher torque at lower speeds but offer lower horsepower than gas engines.
Increased torque means slower acceleration speeds but greater towing power and ease of coaching the vehicle up steep inclines.
Let’s Sum Everything Up
As you can see, both diesel and gas RVs are very similar yet remarkably different.
There are some pros and cons to both, but ultimately, the decision boils down to personal preference and budgetary concerns.
Not to sound biased but I would choose diesel for its fuel economy, higher torque and historically higher resale values opposed to gas RVs.
What is your preferred RV? We would love to hear your thoughts on gas and diesel RVs so please feel free to comment and tell us your best RV stories.
Thank you for taking the time to read our break down of the two, and I hope you’ve gained some insight. Safe travels my friends.
11 thoughts on “Diesel Vs. Gas RV – Who Wins The Battle?”
Jan 22,2019 We are about to purchase our first RV . I’ve been researching everything that can help me decide what to look for when we make our decision. After months of reading talking to friends and RV owners mathematicians my decision is made. I’m going ⛽️ GAS. Thanks to all who provided help and answers.
What factors swung your vote?
Hey Greg. Congrats on the purchase! I hope this article helped you with that decision.
Diesel vs gas. When it comes to changing oil on a gas or diesel it is basically the same. The only difference is the amount. In Canada we measure in metric. So bare with me. Abig block gas 7liters plus filter. Diesel 36 to 42 plus filter or filters. The trick is to fill the filters first then install.
Thank you Mike. This helps a lot. Thinking of taking the plunge and it looks like it’s GAS for me!
I have a Mercedes Benz Sprinter and the diesel engine is really great. It’s relatively quiet, powerful and extremely efficient. It climbs mountains easily with lower RPMs, but, a gasoline engine has less drama.
During the time we’ve owned it, we had an issue with the glow plugs and the emissions system. Fortunately Mercedes Benz replaced the entire emissions system under warranty.
And, it’s true that you certainly go longer distances between service, but the service expenses will be higher with the diesel engine.
We’re about to buy our first RV (Class-C) and for the traveling we are doing, mostly flat roads and hills and not so many steep mountain areas, we are going for GAS.
Would like that little extra horsepower getting on to major highways, though Diesels have improved on this a lot over the years, I also want (the gas) for the DIY serviceability all the way around.
Thanks for the tips.
Let me know how it goes, Mike (your first purchase). Thanks for stopping by and for leaving your comment.
Great article. I would really love to see a few comparisons as far as some people that have purchased motorhomes over a. Of say 10 to 20 years and have kept some kind of record on maintenance fuel consumption and the resale of the unit and look at gas versus diesel side by side. I would really like to know what the real savings would be with diesel factoring in the initial purchase price The increased service cost not. I really love the idea of diesel but the roadside breakdowns and potential 5 to $10,000 major services do really scared the hell out of me. 🙂
Thanks for this great post Mike. There’s lots of actionable information here, and it’s so personal too.
Considering a 2021 (GAS) Entegra Emblem for $139,900 with bumper to bumper warranty 2 years on the coach and 5 years on the chassis -vs- a Tiffin Allegro Bus 37 or 40AP (DIESEL) 3 to 4 years old with 8,000 miles on it closer to $200,000. My wife is so afraid with the diesel that it will bankrupt us with maintenance, repairs, and upkeep, and the purchase of an aftermarket warranty that is only limited. Though beautiful inside and out, more powerful, and an air ride, she insists diesel is a money syphon. Any input will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.