09.04.18 Gas Versus Diesel Motorhomes, by Levi and Natalie Henley

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 – Before we started looking at motorhomes back in 2012 the first decision was what type.  Once we decided we wanted the big Class A we then had to decide whether to purchase a diesel or a gas powered motorhome.  I wanted a less expensive gas motorhome and Roy wanted a more expensive diesel motorhome.

Well Roy won me over because of four things, the engine would last longer, the engine is located in the back of a diesel pusher and is located in the front in a gasoline making it less noisy in the front while driving a diesel, it would have more power so we could go into more mountainous regions and they are built so much stronger that we could carry a lot more of our life “stuff” with us than in a lighter weight gas motorhome.

One cool things is how to tell a diesel motorhome from a gasoline motorhome just by looking at it.  Here’s the trick.  Diesel front doors are always at the front of the passenger side in front of the front tire so you walk into the motorhome in front of the passenger seat.  See Dora’s front door in front of the front tire.

Gasolinemotorhome’s front doors are somewhere behind the passenger seat and behind the front tires.  Here’s photos that show that:

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Okay, well that’s Rosalyn’s lesson on spotting a diesel vs. gasoline motorhome!  Now your life is so much better, right??!!  We have seen, not often at all, a door not being where it should be according to that rule of thumb.   Here’s a really good article that gives some information about what is different different other than where the door is located!  Having owned a diesel the last five years I absolutely would never want to own anything other than a diesel!  That’s just our opinion.  Once I got over paying more, I loved it!  For new folks thinking about buying a motorhome the following article compares the two really well.

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When it comes time to buy a motorhome, there are many choices one has to make. Most of those choices involve floor plans and desired appliances. One big choice seems to stump a lot of people: whether to choose a gas or diesel motorhome. The answer isn’t an easy one. One option is not clearly better than the other as both have their merits. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to compare the two in hopes that it may assist with your decision.

Price

One of the main factors that most RV buyers have on their minds is price. For most buyers, there is a maximum that they are able to spend and motorhomes are not cheap. Of course, there are deals to be had out there, but if you want a good quality motorhome, you are probably going to have to pay for it.

Price is the first major difference between diesel and gas motorhomes. A gas motorhome is generally cheaper. Keep in mind that there are many low end gas motorhomes on the market that you may not necessarily want to live full time in. The higher quality gas motorhomes are built just as well as their diesel counterparts.

Deciding to go with a gas motorhome isn’t just about saving money though. It may also be about amenities. If you are paying less for the engine, you may be able to afford those creature comforts that you can’t live without such as a washer and dryer, another slide, etc.

Gas definitely beats out diesel for price, but like everything in life, there is some give and take as you will see in the next category.

Fuel Milage

There isn’t much of a difference when it comes to what fuel mileage you will get. Most motorhomes, gas or diesel, get between 7 to 10 mpg. The difference lies in consistency. A diesel engine will most likely keep a rather consistent mileage while driving in different conditions such as going up hill. This is due to diesel engines having better low end torque. The reason for this is explained in this article.

On the flip side however, diesel fuel is slightly more expensive than gasoline. However, depending on where and how you are driving, it is possible to come out even in the end.

Maintenance

Both a diesel and a gas engine will require maintenance. Typically, a gas engine is cheaper to service than a diesel engine. Many people are comfortable doing many of their own maintenance tasks on gas engines, as well. As with everything, there is a tradeoff to be had here, as well. Though a gas engine is cheaper to maintain, a diesel engine may require less maintenance.

This may sound like a win for diesel engines, but keep in mind that many people are not comfortable with doing the maintenance required on a diesel engine so they opt to pay for a diesel mechanic to do it.

Comfort

A typical gas motorhome houses the engine in the front of the coach. This means that a lot of the engine noise can be heard while driving down the road. I drive a gas motorhome myself and can attest to this. Most diesel engines have the engine located in the rear of the coach which makes for a much quieter ride. Another feature that many diesel motorhomes have is an air ride suspension which can make for a very smooth ride.

Storage space is important when full time RVing. Typically, a diesel pusher is going to have more storage space than a gas. This is due to the design of the chassis.

Longevity

It’s no secret that diesel engines are intended to go for hundreds of thousands of miles. They have heavier parts intended to handle the higher torque. It is a common assertion that diesel engines tend to last much longer than gas. Though the above statements are true and diesel engines will last longer than you intend on having the coach, most likely, a gas engine will last quite some time with proper maintenance too.

It is possible to get 200,000 miles or more out of a gas engine with proper maintenance and care. For the average RVer, that might take fifteen to twenty years to reach. So diesels may have the better reputation for longevity, but that doesn’t mean gas engines won’t last. You may have to replace more parts on a gas engine to get to 200K than a diesel engine, however.

Resale Value

Diesel motorhomes tend to have a much better resale value than gas motorhomes. The reason for this can be seen in the categories above. Typically, a diesel motorhome will have a better reputation for longevity. They are known for their comforts such as quieter drives and more storage space. Those reasons make diesel motorhomes more sought after in the pre-owned market. Considering there is only so much supply of used diesel motorhomes to meet the demand, they tend to hold their value a little more than gas motorhomes.

Conclusion

Who wins in the end, gas or diesel motorhomes? As with many things in the RV world, this boils down to YOUR preference and what YOU think is important. If you are concerned with a quiet ride, want consistent gas mileage with a higher fuel cost, and plan to sell it in a few years then you may lean towards the comfort of a diesel pusher.

If on the other hand you feel that you don’t mind the sound of the engine and your budget doesn’t allow you to spend an extra $50,000 or more for your motorhome then you may be looking for a gas motorhome.

I personally fell into the second category and my motorhome has a Ford V10 gas engine in it. It is a small 26 foot coach and was purchased used. My wife and I have not experienced any problems in the last four years of ownership. My advice to anyone looking for a motorhome is look for not only what you can afford but also what you can live with.

If you are still on the fence about whether to spend the extra money for a diesel pusher, this site has a great pro and con list of diesel engines.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

 

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