If there is one hot topic on the RV forums online, it is the question: gas vs diesel RV – which is best? And there are many opinions on the subject.
It seems that many RV owners think that whatever engine they have is best. But it’s just not that simple.
As with so many other subjects having to do with RV living, there is no one solution for everyone. So you have to find out what works best for you and your needs for RV travel.
RV manufacturers still make RVs with both gas engines and diesel engines. And they both sell very well.
So there are those who benefit in some way from the features of each engine. And that means that there are pros and cons for both diesel RVs vs gas RVs.
I am going to try and provide a solid list of these pros and cons for you now. If you have even further points of your own to add to this list, please do so in the comments below.
Gas vs Diesel RV – Diesel Pusher Pros
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- They are powerful. In some cases, very powerful. They can climb a steep grade with ease because of the engine’s lower torque.
- Diesel engines have exhaust brakes that will make going down a steep grade much easier too. This saves your wheel brakes from overheating.
- Diesel engines are very good for moving heavy weight. So you can have large appliances and more luxury features built into diesel pushers.
- More living space. Since weight is not such a problem with diesel engines, the RV can be bigger and longer.
- The noise level while driving a diesel pusher is much lower. This is mainly because the engine is way back in the rear of the RV.
- More storage. Most diesel pushers have large storage compartments. Some are often even pass-through bays that make storage a breeze.
- Diesel engines usually last much longer before needing to be rebuilt. In fact, you will probably wear out the RV before the diesel engine itself.
- Diesel pushers usually have air ride suspensions. So they seem to just glide down the highway.
- They also can tow much heavier vehicles due to the powerful engine as well as the beefed-up suspension and braking systems.
- Diesel pushers also hold their value much better than gas-powered RVs.
Diesel Pusher Cons
- The cost to buy! Diesel pushers cost a lot more when new and used. If you are on a budget, this may be a big issue.
- They also cost more to maintain. It’s not necessarily a lot more, but there is more expensive maintenance that goes with these engines.
- Rebuilding or replacing the engine is a major expense. Again, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, get out your wallet!
- A long diesel pusher will have more difficulty getting into some national parks and boondocking spots as well as some fuel stations.
- Diesel fuel costs more. Although, if you get a good diesel fuel discount card the difference between fuel costs narrows considerably.
- Since diesel engines require a qualified diesel engine tech, finding repair facilities for them is not as easy as gas engines.
- Since diesel engines require the use of DEF (diesel exhaust fluid), it is another liquid that you have to keep on hand for every fill-up.
Gas vs Diesel RV – Gas RV Pros
- They are less expensive to buy! If you want to RV full-time, the entry expense can be high. But gas-powered RVs make it easier to get started.
- They are less expensive to repair and maintain. All those extras and luxuries that go with Diesel pushers cost more to keep up.
- When it is time to repair or maintain a gas RV, there are a lot more places to choose from for RV service.
- Since they are smaller, they can often fit in more campgrounds and national parks. And finding boondocking spots is easier too.
- If you have some kind of auto mechanic background, you will probably be able to do some of the repairs and maintenance yourself.
- Gas is cheaper than diesel. So if you are on a budget, this is an area where monthly savings can be had.
- Getting in and out of gas stations is usually much easier because the rig is not as long and cumbersome to move around.
Gas RV Cons
- They don’t have as many extras and features as diesel pushers. All that gingerbread requires weight management that gas RVs don’t have.
- They are not quite as comfortable as diesel pushers while going down the highway. But the newer gassers are much better at this.
- The engine does not last as long and will require rebuilding much sooner than a diesel engine.
- They don’t retain their value nearly as well as a diesel-powered RV.
- They have less storage capacity. Again, this is because diesel engines can push more weight. That’s why truckers use diesel engines.
- They can’t tow as much. There are plenty of vehicles that they can tow, but you won’t be able to tow the heavy ones.
- They are noisier in the cockpit. Since the engine is right there next to you when driving, the noise and heat is greater, especially at high RPMs.
How To Decide Between A Gas VS Diesel RV
When considering a gas vs diesel RV, it’s a lot to think about. But essentially, a lot of the differences comes down to cost.
If you have plenty of funds available for purchasing and maintaining your RV, a diesel pusher may win out. But if you are on a budget, a gas RV may make a lot more sense.
If lots of luxury appliances and items are very important to you, then maybe a diesel pusher is best for you. Then again, maybe having a smaller and more manageable RV that can fit in smaller spaces easier is a high priority. In that case, look seriously at gas-powered RVs instead.
The good news is that either one will be fine for enjoying the RV lifestyle. Many RV owners full-time in either a gas or diesel-powered RV while enjoying the RV lifestyle immensely.
And either a diesel pusher or a gasser RV will take you where you want to go in your RV travels equally well.
So diesel RV vs gas RV discussions should not be about RVing success or failure. They should simply be about which kind of RV fits your needs best.
Regardless of what you may hear from other RVers who have already made this decision, the answer is not clear cut.
There are plenty of diesel powered RV owners who are very happy with the choice they have made.
But there are also plenty of gas powered RV owners who are also happy with their decision.
So there is no right or wrong choice between these two types of motorhomes as far as RVing is concerned.
Just balance your needs and concerns and make the choice that will fit your situation best.
You may also consider watching the videos I have made on this subject by clicking on the images below.
I hope this discussion of gas vs diesel RVs has been helpful. Please comment below and add any additional thoughts about this comparison that you may have.
As always, have safe and happy travels my friends!
10 thoughts on “Gas vs Diesel RV – Which Is Best? (The Surprising Answer)”
I disagree with the gas station issue. Diesel stations are made for semi trucks and easy to maneuver. Gas is mostly sold and the storefront making it extremely difficult to get into with RV + tow vehicle
I’m not sure what your point is Wallace, but all I know is that using regular gas stations with our diesel pusher got us into some pretty tight situations that I was not sure we would get out of intact. So now we just use Loves, Flying Js and truck stops to fill up. It’s much easier that way and less stressful. In the meantime, I see smaller gas RVs using regular gas stations all the time because it’s just not as big of an issue for them. Anyway, that’s been our experience. Thanks for commenting.
With a diesel some regular gas/diesel pumps take longer to fill your tank which waste time filling them, we’re the truck(diesel) takes no time at all. So if you stop at a station that says diesel trucks only and a separate sign saying rv/cars turn around an go somewhere you can pull in with the diesel trucks for your diesel rv.
Good point.The fuel pumps at truck stops and dedicated diesel pumps have a much higher flow rate usually. In fact, it’s a good idea to monitor it as you fill up, because sometimes I have been surprised how quickly the fuel is pumped.
We had a 40 ft diesel bought used what a great vehicle to drive,but what a money pit replaced 6 volt batteries three times in 4 years always something going wrong plumbing electrical tires fuel was almost 5$ a gallon a few years ago oil change is also not cheap tires are very expensive lost a lot of money on that viehical now have 5th wheel and that is becoming expensive also but not as bad as motor homes sure are nice to travel in(motor home)
I hear you David. Diesel pushers are not cheap to maintain. And if they haven’t been maintained well in the past, you’ll have a lot of cash outlay to bring them up to standards. That’s why I always recommend a personal inspection of any RV you are considering, followed by a professional inspection by a certified RV inspector. That can help you avoid the money pit RVs before you buy them. My ebook “How To Avoid Buying An RV Money Pit” explains the process that I recommend pretty thoroughly.
So how do you feel about Class C diesels ? What are the pros and cons of those ? I was thinking about the bigger one but but now I might step down to the 31 ft I think it is . I’m still researching so any and all information is appreciated, thank you .
Hi Kim. Actually I will be making a video about Super C diesel RVs very soon and I’ll cover the pros and cons in that information. But I think that Super Cs certainly have their advantages for the right RVer. Of course, the shorter you go with the Class C body, the less you need a diesel engine to pull it. Diesel engines do best with long, very heavy RVs. But I’ll cover much more in the upcoming video. So stay tuned. 🙂
I have a 2006 Winnebago Voyage 38J Gas Workhorse W24 Chassis 8.1 Chevy Allison 5 speed MH2100.
We were lucky and found this coach at an estate sale and paid $10,000 cash in November 2108. It has been a bit of a money pit too, but after 4 year of constant repairs, most done this year, We now have a gas class A that is just as good if not better than any of the 2022 models out there. Total investment so far is about $40,000 for the coach as it is today. No Regrets !
Sounds like you have a great rig now Doug. A 2006 Winnebago has great bones, so no doubt it will serve you well for quite a while. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!