Even though fuel prices have dropped significantly over the past several years, some RV owners still wonder whether their chosen way of life continues to be affordable.
Traveling by RV is a lifestyle choice that is not largely driven by fuel prices, but visiting the pump is still a fact of life.
There are a number of things owners of both gas and diesel vehicles can do to combat fuel prices. Some are fairly widely known, while others require a little more thought. Many drivers, especially those with motorhomes and towables, are likely aware of some of the ways to improve fuel economy, but they bear repeating.
One of the best ways to increase your miles per gallons is to drive slower. As a vehicle increases speed, it uses more energy, and therefore more fuel, to overcome the increasing air resistance. The relationship is approximately three-to-one. What this translates to is that for every 5 m.p.h. over 60 that is driven, the fuel economy drops roughly 8 percent for an average passenger vehicle.
This number is slightly higher for a large gas motorhome, or gas vehicle towing a trailer. It is believed by many that 55 m.p.h. is an appropriate speed to maintain maximum fuel efficiency. This, however, depends on the vehicle, but slowing down is a sure way to increase your miles per gallon.
As RVers, we want to slow down and enjoy the sights. Right? After all, it’s the journey, and not the destination, that is the joy of RVing!
Another sure way to save fuel is to drive shorter distances and spend more time in one location. Why not experience the sights closer to home base rather than heading for a cross-country destination. Find a comfortable RV park or resort, spend some time there, and explore the sights and popular activities of the area.
A lesser recognized method of saving fuel is to ensure correct tire pressure.
Correct tire pressure is also vital to your safety on the road. Under-inflated tires affect handling and grip, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable vehicle behavior and are more likely to suffer from a dangerous blowout, especially on high-speed Interstate journeys.
Don’t carry more weight than necessary or more than the rating of the recreational vehicle (GVWR).
For a medium-sized vehicle towing a trailer, there is already significant drag due to the weight of the trailer alone. Adding additional weight to the trailer increases the drag, and therefore reduces the miles per gallon.
Carefully study the parameters of your RV, especially the cargo carrying capacity (CCC), because it’s the maximum permissible weight that can be safely added to the vehicle.
Exceeding the legal weight can make the design of the RV unstable and ultimately lead to various risks while on the road. Overloading is the number one cause of tire failure.
Last, but certainly not least, eliminate unnecessary idling. When a vehicle idles, it is getting zero miles per gallon, and it’s bad for the environment. Turn off the engine when stopped or parked.
Although fuel prices have been dropping over the past few years, the cost is still a major contributor to the overall cost of recreational vehicle travel.
RVing continues to be one of the most cost effective and enjoyable forms of travel. According to survey results collected by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), travel by RV costs a family of four between 26 percent and 71 percent less than any other form of travel, depending on the size and type of RV used.
Also, more than 80 percent of RV owners report their RV vacations cost less than other methods of vacation.
Survey results indicate that fuel prices would have to increase several times over to make RV travel more expensive than other forms, so don’t let fuel prices temper the excitement and enthusiasm of traveling the scenic highways and byways of North America.
Speed was high
Weather was hot
Tires were thin
X marks the spot