RV fuel economy:
simple steps to
cut fuel consumption

Good RV fuel economy means high fuel costs won't stop you enjoying your RV. These easy steps can reduce fuel use and cut your costs so you can spend more time RVing.

You can get big benefits in RV fuel economy from just a couple of key changes:

  • Speed: Traveling at 90 km/h (55 mph) instead of 110 km/h (70 mph) can cut fuel use by around 25%.
  • Weight: Carrying less weight can cut fuel use, particularly if you are past the limits of your vehicle's economical load capacity. This may not be near the specified maximum that you can carry or tow, rather it is the practical limit that results in a big increase in fuel use. For our own RV, once that limit is passed, the fuel use rises by around 35% for very little added weight. We keep below this weight limit unless we absolutely must go past it for some particular and necessary reason. When we do, we feel it in the wallet. The only way to find this point is to track fuel use over a few trips and various conditions. The limit cuts in at a lower weight when it is hot, there is a headwind, there are hills or when we are in a hurry.
  • Frontal area: The size of the front of your vehicle and whatever you are towing has a big impact on RV fuel economy. The impact is greater at higher speeds. A low vehicle (a poptop etc) can save fuel this way. Keeping loads off the roof and making sure that the vehicle shape is smooth both help.
  • Tires: A simple way to improve fuel milage is to ensure that all tires are at the right pressure for the job they are doing. Remember that carrying extra loads means extra work for the tires and this may mean different tire pressures. Some studies show that the right tire pressure can improve fuel mileage by up to 3%. It's a good idea to check and fill all your tires while they are cold. Do this as often as needed, but at least once a week. Keeping tires at the right pressure will also extend the life of your tires.
  • Air conditioning: Air conditioning puts up to 33% more load on the engine, which lowers fuel mileage.
  • Unnecessary idling: Leaving your RV idling apart from when you have just a short wait at traffic lights is a waste of fuel. If you will be sitting for a while, turn the engine off.
  • Engine speed: Keep engine revs down where you can by using the highest possible gear. However, this is only a good idea if you are not lugging - causing the engine to work hard because it is running below an efficient speed.
  • Engine tune: Keep your engine well tuned and operating well because any of these can cause a big increase in fuel use:
    • A faulty engine sensor
    • a faulty engine computer
    • dirty fuel injectors
    • poorly-functioning exhaust system
    • clogged or otherwise misfunctioning catalytic converter
    • dirty fuel. This can destroy the tune of an engine in a very short distance. It can clog injectors and can cause poor measurement of fuel by the computer and thus can cause inefficient running.
  • Avoid these Avoid these fuel guzzlers to improve your RV fuel economy and save lots of cash. They burn lots of fuel, so if you can do without them, it will save you heaps.

To improve your RV fuel economy, talk to other owners who have a similar setup to yours and compare fuel mileages. If they use significantly less fuel, ask what they do to keep costs down.

Share this page: