Drive to save fuel in your RV

Drive to save fuel: How you drive has a big impact on fuel economy. Learn to save fuel the easy way: try one of these simple tricks, get it working, then add another.

Driving style for fuel savings has many elements. These are some simple ways to change your driving style so you can drive to save fuel in your RV:

  • Drive like a truckie: Allow your vehicle to lose speed when climbing hills. Build speed up as you come to the hills, allowing the hill to scrub some of the speed off rather than trying to maintain speed in opposition to gravity. However, allow for other road users and the road laws. Plus, when going slow will cause problems, it may be appropriate to use more fuel so you don't create a slow-moving traffic jam.
  • Keep engine revs down where you can by using the highest possible gear. However, this is only a good idea if the engine is not lugging - causing the engine to work hard because it is running below an efficient speed. Lugging will use more fuel and can cause long-term engine damage.
  • Cruise control can be a great help or a hindrance, depending on how you drive and how it drives your vehicle. A good cruise control will drive to save fuel by keeping your vehicle at a steady speed which does not waste fuel through acceleration and deceleration. However, many of them do not handle hills well and particularly do not handle rolling country well. Plus many are set up for the vehicle without the load. With your touring load it may not be as efficient.
  • Light foot pressure on the accelerator (throttle). In some vehicles it is possible to fit a softer spring to the accelerator (throttle) and thus you can learn to be more sensitive to how hard you are pressing. This reduces the tendency:
    • to push hard and thus use more fuel,
    • to accelerate harder from a stop
    • to keep the pressure on the right foot when climbing hills.
  • Notice when your kickdown brings the engine revs up. This is a good way to alert you to a rise in revs, possibly caused by too heavy a foot on the pedal.
  • wear light shoes such as slippers or even bare feet (if it is legal where you are driving) to increase your throttle sensitivity. This way you are more likely to notice when you are pushing too hard on the pedal. Then you can press more lightly or match your speed to the conditions and thus drive to save fuel.
  • Anticipate the need for a change in speed and ease up or gently press down on the pedal to bring a gradual change. Sudden changes use more fuel.
  • Only change speed when you have to. Don't accelerate and brake unnecessarily. Fewer speed changes means less fuel used.
  • Don't pump the accelerator for no reason. Modern cars and RVs don't need it and it just wastes fuel.
  • Minimize unnecessary idling. Most of today's engines don't need much warming up, even in cold temperatures. Many manufacturers suggest you start the engine and immediately drive away. You probably do not need to warm the engine for more than 45 seconds unless you are in Alaska or similar. Unnecessary idling wastes fuel and increases emissions. However, diesels need to be warmed more, mainly because they run on a very high compression ratio and the compression is not as high until everything in the engine expands to operating conditions. That takes heat and a little time.
  • Revving the engine is a waste, especially just before you swith the engine off or between gears (unless you are driving a non-synchromesh vehicle).
  • Pick your road: Some people use less fuel on the freeway, where they can maintain a smooth cruise. Others prefer secondary highways where they can slow down from freeway speeds and drive to save fuel. Secondary roads are often more scenic and interesting, too.
  • Starting and stopping your engine needlessly is a waste.
  • Don't fill your fuel tank right to the top because it can slosh out of the tank.
  • Other things that may save fuel include:
    • ensuring your wheels are correctly aligned and your suspension and chassis are straight
    • using less winding or straighter roads,
    • avoiding rough roads
    • removing mud tires or snow tires when not needed.

There are many simple ways to improve your fuel milage. Learning to drive to save fuel can happen one easy step at a time.

Print this page and put it in the cab of your RV for reference.

Share this page: