Motorhome VS 5th Wheel – Who Wins?

A motorhome vs 5th wheel comparison is the heavyweight title match between RVs. These are the big boys of the RV world. And usually those who are making this comparison want lots of space and conveniences.

There is a real fascination with RV minimalism these days. And a lot of RVers turn to a quality travel trailer like Airstream or a Class B RV to fit that need. But when you start to compare fifth wheels and motorhomes, you are probably looking for much more. And these larger style RVs can deliver in spades.

So which of these type of RVs is best for you? That’s hard to say unless you look over the advantages of each one and compare it with your needs and wants. And what you need in an RV may be completely different from what most others desire. So make the choice that is best for you and your circumstances alone. If you do, you can’t go wrong!

So here is my list of the best advantages of each in this motorhome vs 5th wheel showdown.

Reasons Why You Should Buy A Motorhome

Motorhome vs 5th wheel - a motorhome
A diesel pusher motorhome that compares well with a 5th wheel

When we are talking about motorhomes, we could be talking about any RV that has a motor for driving built into it. But in this article, when we say motorhome, we are talking about a Class A RV. Simply because that is the size of motorized RV that best compares with 5th wheels.

So here are some of the best reasons why buying a Class A motorhome is a good idea:

  • Probably first on my list is that everything is done for you. You don’t have to match a trailer with a tow vehicle and make sure that all of the weight considerations match. As long as you can verify that there is plenty of cargo storage in the motorhome, the rest of the weight matters are handled already.
  • Motorhomes are super convenient for traveling. Passengers can even use the bathroom while going down the highway. My wife loves this feature!
  • Motorhomes usually have more storage capabilities. At least the larger diesel pushers do.
  • Set-up and tear-down at campgrounds is a breeze in a motorhome. If the weather is bad when you arrive, just put the jacks down and fire up the generator. Then wait until better weather comes to hook up your water, electric and sewer. In the meantime, have a convenient cocktail!
  • Speaking of generators, the ones that come standard in a Class A motorhome are usually perfectly mated to your rig. This is a big advantage over installing one after you buy a 5th wheel RV.
  • Campground maneuverability is usually better in a motorhome too. It saves having to know how to back up a towed vehicle. Especially if you aren’t used to that sort of maneuvering.
  • All the living space in a motorhome is usually on the same floor. Rarely do you encounter any stairs in a Class A.
  • Your driving-around-town vehicle that you tow can be much smaller and fuel efficient. 5th wheel tow vehicles have to be big and bulky. And they aren’t very fuel efficient for everyday driving either.
  • If a dangerous situation arises around your motorhome, just fire up the RV and drive off. There is no need to go outside and expose yourself and others to the danger. This is not a scenario that happens very often, but if it does, you may appreciate this kind of security.
  • The expansive view while driving down the highway in a Class A motorhome is a joy to behold. If it is a diesel pusher, it will be quiet and cool too since the engine is in the back. And there is plenty of moving-around room for occasional stretches.

Reasons Why You Should Buy A 5th Wheel

Motorhome vs 5th wheel - a fifth wheel
A 5th wheel that compares favorably with a large motorhome

So that list of Class A motorhome advantages sounds pretty good, huh? Well, there are plenty of 5th wheel benefits too. And here they are:

  • First on the list is that 5th wheels usually have more room and living space than motorhomes. This is because the slides on a fifth wheel are deeper and make the RV wider when they are deployed.
  • The ceilings are also higher in a 5th wheel. This gives the feeling of even more roominess. In fact, the living room in a 5th wheel often feels like you are living in an apartment. If space is important to you, this is huge!
  • The initial purchase price of a fifth wheel is much lower than a comparably sized motorhome. This is true even if you factor in the tow vehicle as well. A well-appointed new 5th wheel along with a solid tow vehicle will cost about $100,000 – $150,000. A similarly well-appointed new motorhome will often cost $175,000 – $300,000.
  • If you ever have to get your engine repaired, you can still live in your 5th wheel while it is being done. A motorhome will require you to stay elsewhere until the repair is finished. Sometimes the repair facility can make arrangements for you to stay in your motorhome on-site. But don’t count on it.
  • Repairing the diesel engine in your tow vehicle will usually be easier to arrange and cost less. A motorhome’s diesel engine will usually have to be repaired by a facility that specializes in those commercial engines. Whereas most garages and dealerships can handle the repairs on a Chevy, Ford or Dodge diesel truck.
  • Whoever does the cooking will probably appreciate having a kitchen island in a 5th wheel. These are rarely found in motorhomes.
  • There is a great variety in the floor plans that you can get with a 5th wheel. With all of that space to play with, the RV designers can really get their creative juices flowing.
  • If you want to change your RV living area, you can just sell the 5th wheel. You don’t have to sell your tow vehicle as well. But if you sell a motorhome, the whole package goes together and you lose all the mechanical maintenance you have done on it.
  • Highway safety is better with a 5th wheel too since the tow vehicle will most likely have airbags. Most motorhomes do not have these safety features built-in.

Reasons For Either A 5th Wheel Or Motorhome

There are several areas where the comparison of motorhome vs 5th wheel is just simply a tie too. In other words, the advantages and disadvantages are about the same for both. Let’s take a look at some of these now:

  • The cost of vehicle insurance for motorhomes is greater than a fifth wheel to be sure. But you have to insure two vehicles with a 5th wheel (including the tow vehicle) so it’s basically a wash.
  • Fuel costs for both motorhomes and fifth wheels are similar too. Both use big engines that haul lots of weight. So they both burn a lot of fuel.
  • They both depreciate at about the same rate. Of course, the cost of a motorhome is usually higher. So you will lose more money overall in depreciation with a motorhome.

Results Of A Motorhome VS 5th Wheel Comparison

So which one is best for you? Well, it all depends on which advantages mean the most to you in your RV travels.

I recommend taking plenty of time to visit RV dealers and sample both motorhomes and 5th wheels in person. Look at lots of them. See which features appeal to you the most. Ask lots of questions. Imagine yourself in both types of these RVs. Usually you will find that a clear winner becomes apparent after a while of doing this kind of on-site research. That’s what we did and we are happy with our purchase.

I wish you well in your RV search and I hope that these tips and ideas have been helpful. Please subscribe to my monthly newsletter to get more in-depth RV comparisons and information like this. I promise to treat your email inbox with the utmost respect. No spamming here!

Do you have more ideas that can added to this discussion on motorhomes vs 5th wheels? Then please comment below and tell us which features of these rigs are important to you!

As always, have safe and happy travels my friends!

Gas VS Diesel RV – Which Is Best?

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 gas and diesel engines.

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.

Diesel Pusher Pros

Diesel pusher motorhome - gas vs diesel rv
Diesel pusher motorhome
  • 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 RV Pros

Gas-powered motorhome - gas vs diesel rv
Gas-powered motorhome
  • They are less expensive to buy! If you want to 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.

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.

So there is no right or wrong choice as far as RVing is concerned. Just balance your needs and concerns and make the choice that will fit your situation best.

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!

Pro Tips For RV Slide Out Maintenance

Performing RV slide out maintenance on a regular basis will save you thousands of dollars in RV slide repairs. And it doesn’t matter what kind of rig you own. Slide out rooms can be found on many kinds of RVs. Even smaller travel trailers are often coming with slide outs now. Essentially, a slide out allows you to open up the interior of your RV and make it feel so much more roomy inside.

Motorhome with RV slide outs
RV slide outs can dramatically expand the room inside your RV

But to get that extra room, the manufacturer has to cut a large hole in the side of the RV. Then they put the slide out on a mechanism that moves it in and out as you wish. And to keep water and debris out of the RV, slide seals or gaskets are put in place all around the slide. It all actually works surprisingly well. But if you don’t maintain your RV slide outs, serious problems can develop. And some of these problems can cost thousands to fix and repair.

RV Slide Out Seals

The rubber seals or gaskets that surround the slide-out can be referred to by any number of names. Some call them a wiper seal, sweeper seal or flapper seal. But they all do the job they are intended to do. They are your first line of defense against having the elements seep into your RV, especially water. Replacing the seals on a single slide out can cost $1000 or more. So it makes sense to keep them in good shape.

There are any number of products for slide out seal conditioning. The primary function of these products is to keep the rubber seals supple and prevent them from drying out. And they also need to provide protection against UV damage from the sun. Ultraviolet damage is what slowly breaks down these seals more than anything else and they become brittle. At that point it is easy for cracking to begin which allows moisture to seep into the RV.

I like to use a product that has been especially formulated for protecting rubber and vinyl seals and gaskets. It’s called 303 Aerospace Protectant. It is very easy to apply and will immediately improve the look and feel of your slide out seals. It is also a very high quality UV inhibitor. So regular application of this product should keep your slide out seals in good shape for a very long time. Applying the product on the outside of the seal and between the seal and the slide is all that’s needed.

Keep Your Slide Out Seals In Place

One of the most common problems I see with slide out seals is that the seal doesn’t completely flip into place when the slide is out. This can leave the seal looking odd in that some parts of the seal wiper is in place and others aren’t. This also isn’t the best way to prevent water intrusion either. It’s only when the seal lies perfectly flat against the slide out that the best water prevention takes place. So how do you manage to get the entire seal to flip out and lie flat when the slide is extended?

One way is to physically flip it into place by hand using a ladder. But this is time consuming and carries an element of danger on the ladder. But one of the best solutions I have found is to use furniture bumpers to do the job for you. Simply place about 4 – 5 of them in the middle of the slide out spaced out equally along the height of the slide. Then when the slide goes in they flip the wiper in and when it comes out they flip the wiper into place when the slide is extended. It’s a simple solution that doesn’t cost much money and saves lots of time and effort. You can check out these self-adhesive furniture bumpers on Amazon below.

RV Slide Out Lubrication

There is one other area of the RV slide out that needs lubrication and care. And that is the tracks where the slide moves in and out mechanically. These metal tracks can become filthy and and even rusty over time. And that is when you will hear loud groans and noises as the slides move in and out. Of course, this puts more pressure on the slide out motor too. So lubricating the tracks of the slide out will help make the whole slide mechanism last longer and work better.

For this job, I like to use the 3-in-1 product called “Slide Out Silicone Lube”. I find that it works very well for this purpose. There are other products that also do a fine job. Whatever you use, just make sure that it does not leave a slick or gummy residue behind. If so, dirt and grime will be attracted to it and can even make the slide out tracks worse than before. Lubricating the RV slide out tracks a few times every year will keep them in good working order though. You can read more about the 3-in-1 product that I use below. It’s in the green can. But they also make other great lubrication products for window glass and rubber seals too. You can check them all out below.

I hope these tips on how to maintain your RV slide out seals and tracks has been helpful. If you follow the suggestions provided, you should get good use and long life from your RV slide outs. Please comment below and tell us about your experiences with RV slide out maintenance. Or maybe you have other suggestions on how to care for your slide outs. We would love to hear from you!

As always, have safe and happy travels my friends!