One of the greatest debates for new RVers, and seasoned RVers alike, has to be the impossible to settle Gas vs. Diesel! Is a Diesel RV better than a Gas RV?
We take this question head on in what we’re calling the RV Smackdown Gas Vs. Diesel. We sat down with the Fleetwood design and engineering team, chatted about our take on Gas vs. Diesel and told them we wanted to shoot a simple, easy to understand video that put a Gas RV head-to-head with a Diesel RV in the hopes of making a simple comparison that any potential buyer would understand.
For our comparison we’ve selected a gas powered 33C Bounder and a diesel powered 33D Excursion, both motorhomes are 2015 models. We selected these 2 RVs because they’re about as similar as you can get in length, layout and features. To keep this comparison simple I’ve narrowed it down to what I think are the top 6 differences between these RV’s.
1. Front vs. Rear Engine
The engine is in the front which is louder and produces more heat in the driver’s area. This can be a good thing in the winter but a bad thing in the summer.
Having a conversation in here isn’t a problem; you just have to speak up a bit, especially during acceleration or climbing hills. Once you’ve reached cruising speed it’s not so bad.
Because of the noise you may want to upgrade the speakers in the driver’s area if you want to hear the music while driving. You should also invest in a noise cancelling Bluetooth headset if you need to make phone calls while en-route.
The doghouse that covers the engine can be a nuisance when entering and exiting the driver’s area.
With the engine in the front the generator is mounted closer to the bedroom, which means sleeping and running the generator at the same time might be a problem if you’re a light sleeper, for us a generator hum can actually be soothing as it drowns out other noises.
The rear engine keeps the cabin quiet making the drive a little more peaceful, but there will always be road noise, squeaks, creaks and vibrating pots that will make themselves know during travel.
Talking with your co-pilot during acceleration is not a yelling match, which is nice.
The speakers are crap in almost all RVs (its true, the only awesome sound system we’ve seen in person from the factory was in an American Coach at the Louisville RV Show) so if you’re an audiophile and want to really jam you’ll still need to replace the speakers, but if you’re cheap and lazy like us you can at least hear the music in the Excursion.
No doghouse here but there is a step up in the bedroom so you lose some headroom if you’re over 6’ it may be an issue.
With the engine in the back the generator is up front which is great for sleeping, but other than that there’s not much of a benefit here.
Engine doesn’t work as hard (lower RPMs) so there’s less wear and tear.
Engine will last longer. (both gas or diesel engines should way outlast the “RV House”)
Engine Brake/Engine Retarder makes descending steep grades (mountains) much safer.
Mountain Speeds – 6% incline for 1 mile average speed of 50 mph.
Ford F-Series Super Duty Motorhome Chassis
Multi-Leaf Springs and Shocks with variable-rate jounce bumpers – Ride is fine but the coach will roll, sway and bump a little more.
50-degree wheel cut – good turning radius
Anti-lock Disc Brakes (ABS) – if hydraulic line is cut brakes will be lost.
Electronic Truck Horn
RV Sits higher from the ground
Feels like driving a Truck which can be stressful on long hauls.
Typical Ford truck gauges, controls and steering wheel.
FCCC Motorhome Chassis
Air Ride Suspension with Stabilizing Beams provides a smoother ride with less roll and sway.
60-degree wheel cut – best turning radius
Air Brakes are a safety upgrade, when air is lost in the line the brakes will automatically engage to stop the RV.
Air Horn is louder for emergency
Dumping the Air bags makes leveling at the campground easier
RV sits lower to the ground
Feels like driving a “town car”, in my opinion it’s less stressful of a drive.
Upgraded controls and gauges
4. Fuel Economy
80 gallon tank
Less Fuel Efficient (estimated 8mpg)
Gas can be found everywhere
Gas is Less Expensive per gallon
Gas pumps can take a long time to fill up from empty to full (about 10 GPM). Fill up should take around 8 minutes.
Gas Tank fill is located in the back of the RV near the middle to make fill-up easier, I’m not sold on just how easy it is to perfectly pull up to the pump and stop with the tiny pump hoses at typical gas stations.
No DEF necessary
90 gallon tank
More Fuel Efficient (estimated 10mpg)
Diesel is “almost” everywhere
Diesel is more expensive per gallon
Truck diesel pumps are very fast (about 60 GPM). Fill up should take under 2 minutes.
Dual Tank fill so it doesn’t matter which side of the pump you pull up to, or at truck stops you can fill from both sides at the same time!
Must use DEF in a separate tank for all newer engines to meet emissions regulations; DEF is often a hassle to locate, and it’s expensive.
5. RV Maintenance
Less Expensive to maintain – Both the hourly rates for technicians and the parts are usually less expensive.
Most any shop that can work on a Ford Truck can also work on the chassis side of a Gas RV.
Repairs are usually completed more quickly and greater access to parts nationwide.
If you’re handy you may be able to perform certain tasks such as oil change, fuel filter, brakes, etc.
Shorter service intervals meaning more stops for routine maintenance
Typical Oil change pricing
More repair costs in the long run because the engine is working harder at higher RPMs.
Ford cannot service the Cummins Generator
More Expensive to maintain – Specialized Diesel Chassis shops, parts and technicians equal higher rates and prices.
To work on this Chassis/engine you’ll need to locate a Freightliner and/or Cummins service center, there are plenty across the country but a fraction compared to the Ford Service Centers.
Don’t expect to work on this engine unless you’re a certified technician.
Can be driven further distances between service appointments which means more time travelling and less time in a shop.
Uses 3x more oil than a gas engine so an oil change isn’t cheap!
Service intervals are one of the biggest differences between these two RVs, here’s a snapshot of the regular maintenance schedule recommendations from each of the manufacturers:
FCCC ISB / Allison 2100
6 months/7,500 miles
6 months/5,000 when towing
12 months / 15,000 miles
4 years / 150,000 miles
2 years / 50,000 miles
6 years / 105,000 miles
2 years / 60,000 miles
Air Filter Indicator
No service required
With Every Oil Change
Clean every 200,000 miles
Replace every 200,000 miles
6. Purchase Price
$133,805.00 Bounder 33c MSRP
Approximately 30% savings off MSRP
$192,478.00 Excursion 33d MSRP
Historically better resale value
Now to be upfront and fully honest we’ve owned 3 different class A diesel RVs, we haven’t owned a gas RV unless you count our little VW Vanagon. Although, our first “big” RV was a Damon Avanti front engine diesel that was built on a Workhorse chassis so it was very similar to the ford RV chassis that gas RV’s are built on (so what I’m trying to say is we’ve got a little experience with an RV that drives like a gas motorhome).
A few misconceptions we had about Gas vs. Diesel RVs:
We sat down with the Fleetwood engineering team to bounce our ideas off them for both the video and this more detailed article. We were surprised with their comments on a Gas RV; we assumed they’d say Diesel is the Best way to go, Gas sucks…Halfway through the our meeting the engineers were arguing amongst each other on which was better! I felt like we had behind-the-scenes access to a Siskel and Ebert movie review, it was truly an experience I won’t forget and it’s made us look at Gas RV’s completely differently.
We thought the build quality of a Gas RV was inferior to that of the Diesel RV, which isn’t true at all when comparing the Bounder and the Excursion. The walls, the structure, the amenities inside, combo washer-dryer all the way down to the TVs are almost identical in these two motorhomes. Now granted, many entry level RVs are not built to the quality standards of either of these two RVs, so our quality misconceptions aren’t entirely untrue.
Although a Diesel may perform better in the mountains a Gas engine can handle cold weather and high altitude better, something about DEF freezing, Compression Ratios, thinning fuel and a bunch of other stuff that was way over my head.
The quality and build of these 2 coaches are pretty similar, should you decide to go for gas you’re not getting a lower quality product it’s really just configured differently. For us when it comes to driving comfort, features and mountain performance the diesel wins hands down, but throw in the 30% price difference and the choice isn’t so clear cut for everyone. Really, it’s all about how and where you plan to travel.
So what works for you? Share your thoughts and your RV model in the comments below, we’re seriously looking at testing out a Gas RV for our next home on wheels and we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Disclaimer – These comparisons are generalized differences between these two specific RV models. This article and video are for entertainment purposes only, and even though we discussed these differences with the Fleetwood team we are solely responsible for this content. A big thanks to Fleetwood RV for making this article and video possible. As always our opinions are our own.
Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.
After +50 years of driving trucks, cars and now rv’s – I have to laugh at a lot of the posts.
OMG – the gas is too noisy. And the ride . . . please.
Folks – what do you want to do with your rv? Here is a discussion point NOT covered anywhere here.
Do you want to use National Parks or State Parks? Boondock? Or just go to RV Resorts (a well misused description if ever)??
Most government Parks were built in the 1960’s. They have narrow roads, trees and sites that are often small or somewhat difficult to get into.
Want to be INSIDE a Park and not outside having to drive in from a private rv park – YOU NEED TO BE AS CLOSE TO OR BELOW 30FT AS POSSIBLE.
Want to drive your 40ft diesel with a tag along axle down the gorgeous dirt rd to boondock?
NOTE: Diesels are big and heavy. That is why they are not in short rv’s. It’s been tried by one of the most respected rv builders there is. Massive failure. Weight in the rear lifts the front – bad steering. Imagine they added weight to the front to bring it down! There goes your storage, towing, etc. Still didn’t work. And today – the only short diesels are Sprinter vans.
For this reason – and this reason alone we drive a 33 ft gas V10 Ford. She runs and runs and runs. Spend a little and add sway bars and and some Sumo’s and your ride, driving and comfort improve immeasurably. 10’s of thousands of $$$ less than that guy passing you to get to the RV park outside the gates of the National Park he can’t get into – but you do. And that incredible awesome view from that great BLM land – we use them all the time.
From Yosemite to Yellowstone to the Smokies – we are very happy we weighed our priorities and made our decision for gas. It is 100% about what you want to do with your rv. And believe it or not, we’ve saved tons, seen and continue to see places the big DP’s could never get to. Life is a choice.
By the way . . . .
We get 7.5MPG. We pay at least .40 cents or more less per gallon. Use Synthetic oil and make the change every 10k miles.
And I have yet to hear one word of the crushing, catastrophic destruction of a V10 that I have read here and elsewhere with the governments trashed diesels. And you know – even in a podunk town in the middle of nowhere – a gas truck engine is easily serviced.
What do you want to do with your RV?
Well written article! Very informative for both sides for giving information for comparisons to help make a decision, thanks!
I have 2 choices for an RV. One is gas one is diesel. Jason, I’d sure appreciate advice from you on this. Here are the particulars:
Will be a full time, traveling Medical Professional Couple with small dog. Assignments are 13 weeks long, so moving 3-4 times a year but might be halfway across the country or more each time. Towing a 5k load ( galvanized car hauler and Jeep Cherokee combined weight since Jeep is all wheel drive but no flat tow option )
Choice one, budget RV. 2002 Gas Fleetwood Terra 31 with workhorse chassis. CON: Barely able to match the 5000K tow capacity we need for the vehicle on a trailer. PLUS: $14,000 price, 25000 miles. It has a Ford chassis with a Triton V10. All new coach batteries and charger, new smoke, carbon monoxide, and propane detectors, and a new kitchen faucet. Tires 2 years old. Excellent condition full cover included. Can prob buy this outright with funds in the bank.
Choice two, older diesel pusher. 1999 Dutch star by Newmar 36 ft. 300 Cummings motor, Allison transmission and 67,000 miles. CONS: will need a loan at 33K price tag. PROS: Its friggin gorgeous and super well maintained. 2 year old awning; leather power seats for both the driver and oversized seat for the passenger; a combination safe for valuables; upgraded all solid oak interior cabinetry, oak dining room set, jack knife sofa bed, outside shower, dual AC units; tile floors in kitchen and bath; Corian counter tops, roof luggage rack, washer/dryer, upgraded porcelain toilet, ice maker, water purifier system.
Thanks in advance!
shad r misbach
motor home used
2006 29ft gas 8.1 headers dual exhaust. Pass through basement storage two slides. 8mpg at 72 mph 9 mpg at 67 and 10 at 62 mph. Air bags. 6% inclines at 65 no problem. Allison transmission in the workhorse. I paid 26k with 34k miles 2 weeks ago. Already put 2700 miles hassel free. Put your money in bank …unless you need to keep up with the Jones
The national average mileage for a class A is 5k miles a year. As such, a 10 year old RV will have, on average, about 50k miles. While it is true that a diesel engine is good for several 100k miles and a gasser at least 100k, the fact is that the rest of the RV will be obsolete / wore out well before either the gas or diesel engine is. Remember folks, an RV is not a house, it will not appreciate in vale — it is a life style choice and not an appreciating investment. For engine maintenance, if using synthetic oil, an annual oil change for a gasser is ok given the 5k annual mileage parameter and understanding that most gassers will be driven less than that. If the RV length is greater than 38 feet, then there is no choice. Due to weight alone a diesel is needed. For RV’s less than 38 feet, the decision is more financial and personal preference.
We are looking to buy a Class C Diesel. (not a Super C).We can’t seem to find a diesel in that size manufactured by anyone other than Dynamax? While we like their product, we also wanted to explore further options.
I am planning to buy used and researching gas/diesel. Wondering what is “workhorse”?
Workhouse manufacturers chassis that are used by several RV manufacturers.
Mercedes and other manufactures have not made reliable engines due to emission control problems.. The Sprinter I read, costs multiple $thousands into the very early 100.000 miles. I would value any input as we love the esthetics of the Mercede cab but as first time RV” ers our thought is to be worry free. Seems as though we have returned to the early days of vehicles where the chances of not reaching the destination is part of the adventure.
Check out some of the Sprinter RV owner’s forums to see what issues people have with them. http://www.irv2.com/forums/f280/mercedes-based-rv-owners-173722.html or https://sprinter-source.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=4
Emission control has absolutely nothing to do with the longevity of engine.
Lowering emissions and better fuel economy have in common efficiency!
Nothing about making an engine more efficient causes one wear out sooner, they don’t use inferior pistons, rods, or bearings, nor do any companies use cheaper material to produce their engine blocks, I just don’t know where you get this idea.
Maybe provide some facts to enlighten me.
DPF make the engine have to work past a restrictive filter causing engine to work harder to make same power causing more wear and reduced fuel economy. DEF injects urea into exhaust to reduce problems inherent in DPF this urea commonly has problems with deposits inside of exhaust corroding wiring harnesses from the inside, freezing and leaking. EGR puts high temperature exhaust into intake and prevents efficient combustion with reduced oxygen available for combustion which causes engine to work harder and use more fuel also increased intake temp causes all kinds of extra wear to almost every part of engine. 20% increase in fuel consumption is common with these items working properly let alone having any kind of problem. 6-8K$ repair bills are common and tow truck operators report up to 80% of tows are now due to emissions failures.
I have been working on diesels for 20+ years now and while the engines themselves are great the emissions are killing us and our engines. without even getting into the question of how clean are they when the vehicle goes into regeneration and basically empties the filters on the highway by setting the filters on fire (see vw diesel gate BTW they all do this)
Been in the trucking industry for over 25 years. Brian is spot on. If I can find a used motorhome with a pre DEF engine I’d think real hard about going diesel. However with the new engines there is no way I would own one. We have more issues with diesels going down since the DEF standards. I would never think of getting a diesel for myself. I just don’t have the deep pockets for tow bills and repairs. If money is no option then go ahead go diesel. Pay much more up front, much more on maintenance, likely much more for towing and repairs as well. Diesel’s were a great way to go till the Federal Gov’t wrecked them for us.
The new diesels have ridiculously complex emissions systems. I am thinking of buying a DP some time in the next few years, but would never consider anything built after 08. In fact, I will likely be looking at mid-late nineties stuff, preferably with the cummins 8.3. That thing makes all the power you’ll ever need and is bulletproof. Also, these units frequently have no slides, which is preferable to me. When I want a lot of space…..I go outside.
And in that year range, you can find really high end stuff for 25-30K.
Good article lot of street smarts information, question because some RV’s sit for months or two at a time is there any problems with the diesel sitting not being used. Do you need to provide additional treatments to the fuel in these cases. Guess your running a 87 octane in the gas engines if you run high octane cost comparable. I’m in the market but still trying to learn as much as possible. good job thanks
Im about to sell my house in Florida and am planning on buying a class A and travelling for a year…I’ve been looking at pre-owned units, but I used to tour with bands and they all used Provost buses. I don’t have much experience with RVs, except for my friends who live in RV parks down here in Southwest Florida. This article was very very helpful. I think I’ll probably go gas just because I don’t think I’ll be moving the vehicle that much just traveling between florida-tennessee and Pennsylvania and taking my Mustang to race tracks on weekends. thanks for articles like this
Glad you found the info helpful. Best of luck on your adventures!
Great info, wife and I are going to purchase a RV this year. Not being the richest guy and this will be an entry into RVing, I feel the gas RV will suit us fine. The two of us and our dog, and occasional guest couple should be comfortable on short trips. Looking towards a 28ft class c, Ford v-10
Thank you for sharing your experience, I always keep thiniking diesel is better. Now I know more clearly than before.
Carlos M. Martinez E
You chose a diesel rig. Diesels are rugged. The engine can last 1,000,000 miles. My VW Golf went on for 700,000 without a hitch (it was falling apart, but the engine was as sound as new) and gave me 38-40mpg. A well-maintained Cummins can give you 800,000 to 1,000,000 miles with an average 10-12mpg. Service is very simple if you take care of your rig. DEF is not an issue… you should fill up just sometimes. Yes, diesel is “sometimes” more expensive. It depends only on politics. But.. 7mpg to 10mpg with just a few cents’ difference between the two… and 20% more efficiency, 100% more reliability, 70% more torque, 100% more towing capability, 70% less noise. And with a chassis that is made to live 100 years with air suspension? Well… if you’re planning on selling your rig every two years, go gas. If you want a way better resale price, reliability, economy, peace of mind, ride, towing capabilities, strength, comfort, and ride, go diesel. It’s not that diesels go way slow rpm-wise. It’s because the principle and fuel in diesel engines is a completely different thing to gas engines. Where gas needs ignition and plugs and heat, the diesel engine needs pressure and sound (yes, sound, as in sound waves) to work. That sole principle and the fact that diesel is itself a lubricant, engines need much less maintenance and can last virtually forever. A commercial truck needs that million-mile life-span. An RV will meet that mark by its 100th anniversary. These facts may be interesting to consider when buying an RV. And that leads to the question: isn’t it better to get a used (say 50,000-mile) diesel higher-end rig for much less than the price of a brand new gas one?
That not entirely true.. I don’t want anyone to just take my word for it, do your homework. You are going to get better fuel economy and more torque, more towing capacity, and also less noise and even higher trade in values. But you will not get more reliability with an new common rail diesel (specifically a cummins, I cant say on other manufactures). The newer common rail cummins engines can be down right nasty. The days of million mile cummins are over.. Common rail fuel injectors are under crazy high pressures, up to 35,000 psi vs 100ish psi on a gas engine to help the engine be more eco friendly, as you can imagine 35,000 is going to find injector weaknesses pretty quick and depending on how it fails, it can do it by slowly adding more fuel to a cylinder and go completely unnoticed until its too late to just replace the injector.. It can seem like everything is fine until you climb a big hill and that one cylinder thats getting a bit too much fuel melts that aluminum piston and then you get to decide well do I want to spend 8k to rebuild said motor or do i want to spend 14k and buy a new crate engine from cummins and hope this one lasts at least long enough for me to get a few more seasons out of it and off load it to some other individual that hasn’t done their home work on the common rail diesel. Don’t believe the lies! Some people will get lucky and get away with 140k on the odometer others won’t even make it to 10k. Its all a roll of the dice. I will say not every injector failure will lead to catastrophic engine failure, some get away with replacing an injector at a bare minimum will cost you $600, but most people dont get that lucky. My first engine failure was at 65k #5 and #6 melted down dealer rebuilt that and took them 2 months to do it, second catastrophic engine failure was at 92K, #6 cylinder melted down. Cost to rebuild parts and machine work only, I did all the labor this time because i trust no and for good reason, $11,000.. nothing fancy all oem parts. and ran out of money and wasn’t even able to change the injection pump like i wanted, btw thats $1,500.. I had no signs the engine was going to fail, no noises, pyro was normal, no smoking, and both times happened climbing a hill. If you want a cummins buy a pre common rail, you will get reliability out of it.
Hi do you know what year the common rail started?
We bought a Winnebago Minnie Winnie 31K in March 2016 and we love it! When shopping for it we looked at several brands, but kept coming back to the Winnebago. It is such a comfortable quiet ride and we have plenty of leg room. It has held up well and we have already traveled 8000 miles in less than a year and we aren’t even retired!
Brian Gordon Barre
I have a 2015 37′ v-10 Ford class A if you want better mileage and hill power do as l did chip it put headers on and a air cleaner performance on it for $4000 installed it keeps up with diesel s and isn’t $40000 more because it s diesel
Please tell me about chipping. I have heard of these but thought they were a scam. What is a header. We were going to purchase Mercedes Sprinter was told of very costly repairs due to pollution control issues and that Mercedes disclaimed responsibility.
Hi If you have a ford V 10 look up 5 Star tuning , they are very good I installed their tune and LUV it !
This exchange was very valuable.
What used to be a great diesel has been ruined by the EPA. Diesel engines newer than 2007 mid year, will ALL have a Diesel Particulate filter that must either be replaced(cartridge system), regenerated (burns out the soot) or treated with DEF fluid in order to clear the soot out of the filter. In my particular truck, the regen cycle squirts unburned diesel fuel into the cylinder during the exhaust cycle when the filter needs a regen.
In my case we are running on the 3rd DPF filter as 2 have been replaced along with the entire sensing system more than once. When it fails it puts you into limp mode. We barely made it over the Cascades mountain summit when we were ‘limped’ by our on board environmental testing lab.. ( yes, that’s what it really is). It took an entire week to have the truck repaired in Washington state.
When it happened again in Whitehorse, Yukon, we were down for 3 weeks. The dealership changed out the entire filter and sensors AGAIN. Luckily my son lived in Whitehorse and I am retired but heck….3 weeks?
If this work were not under warranty, then a $3500 bill each time it happens is just too much.
Now here’s the killer. My truck has only 60,000 miles on it.
So I think a gasser is the way to go nowadays unless you can get a rig with an old Ford 7;3 or Cummins 5.9. Any of the newer engines are compromised and crap.
The exhaust restriction caused by these particulate filters, lowers the available torque and manufacturers have responded by increasing the displacement of the engine. ( ei Cummins 5.9 litre was increased to 6.7 litre) to compensate but of course a bigger displacement means lower fuel economy. ( 20 percent reduction anyway).
Repairs the the DPF are expensive. My RV is on its third. Maybe $3500 each time if it hadn’t been on environmental warranty.
The preferred fuel up in the far north of Canada is not usually diesel. In a few remote places you might get to, it might not be available at all. In Canada and USA newer diesel trucks MUST use Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel. This aint the same as the old Low Sulfer Diesel. I inquired about going on a caravan trip with people who run a business doing that and was told that although you MIGHT be able to buy ULSD in the region of Mexico you are travelling in, it is not guaranteed yet. Since running on non-ULSD is a warranty killing issue for your new expensive diesel, you still might not want one if you intend to travel in Mexico. Of course you could by a Mexican vehicle and that would be ok.
Thank you for your input Lee. It was extremely helpful as I was thinking of buying diesel and traveling to Mexico.
Let me see. Twice the towing power,Better mileage,Way longer service intervals. Seems to me the diesel wins hands down. One thing not mentioned in this article is transmission life. Sure the gas motor will last longer than the chassis typically but the transmissions tend to fail. The allison transmission though is virtually bulletproof (which most diesels have). I wouldnt buy a gasser without one (workhorse, which you cant get now:-( ).
For 10 hrs I have been enjoying a 2002 Itasca Suncruiser 35u on Workhorse with 8.1 and Alison. Every year I think about upgrade but this machine just keeps performing and maintenance has been very low. Two slide floor plan is also quite functional. Point being. Enjoy what you have. Never stop shopping though. RVIng is fun.
I noticed on the specs sheet it shows the 33C Bounder having 19.5 wheels. Your video picture shows 22.5 wheels. Should this not make a big difference in how RV handles. I agree all the suspension addons are great but does the F53 chassis using the 22.5 wheels which is the 22000 GVWR need upgrade as much as the 18000 GVWR? Which one did you actually install the upgrades on?
I have owned diesels and have done very little repair work on them. Just a little overkill on oil changes and fuel filters and transmission fluid changes. Of course Batteries will have to be changed every 4 to 5 years. But no tune ups and wires and electrical components. I have had to replace a alternator and starter each on both but that was over 120k miles. I would not buy a gas truck or a rv if I was going to travel period.
I own a 1986 Monaco Diplomat 37 ft. Gas Pusher. 454 Chevy Big Block. No heating problems at all. 61,000 miles on her & drives like a dream. This has all the bells & whistles like an ice maker, dual reverse cycle air, central vacuuming and all white oak everthing. She gets 8 to 9 MPG. This is a dream to work on & a custom bus chasis. Lift the bed and voila, easy access to everything. The only upgrade I’ve had to make was a digital 12 volt converter. It really spares the huge home battery and treats it nice. This is my 3rd RV. One was my starter Chinook, then a dual door 34 ft. ’89 Bounder. The difference between that unit and this one is day & night. I love the oldies because they are fun to work on, cheap because people see them as throw aways but now I know I own my last. When this one was made, Monaco was out to prove they built the best coach in the world and in that year, I think they did. Mine is a cream puff and I bought it for 4% of its original price and everything on it works like the day it was brand new with only one exception, it’s old monster size back up camera is missing so I guess I’ll probably have to spend $30 for a new replacement. With regard to saying something negative about a gas pusher, I only travel locally, change oil & filter every 3K so I expect the engine will last me til my personal forever gets here. My gas pusher is a dream come true for me. I fell in love with Monaco when I toured their plant in ’86 and who knows, maybe they were building mine that day. When I found out they made a gas pusher, I looked for years until I found this one and bought it really, really cheap. It’s like I won the RV lottery. Gas is grand.
I think that before you can answer this question about gas vs diesel you need to look at yourself in the mirror.
That’s right. If one or the other was such a universal decision the other would be out of business. Right?
1. How much money do you have to spend?
a. If you have a limited supply of cash, go for gas.
b. If you have bags of money, go for diesel.
This is the critical issue to deal with right up front and it may just be the only question you need to answer.
Lets assume you are like the rest of us and a little shy on the money side.
Do you buy a second hand diesel or a second hand gas model?
This will all depend on the condition of the vehicle. A good used diesel is better than a good used gas model because basically diesel survives better, assuming all things are equal. If you are the back yard mechanic type then go for a gas. I you are a diesel mechanic, or hate being a grease monkey go for the diesel.
Remember this: buy cheap and you going to reap the rewards of being cheap, that is, cheap ultimately ends up being expensive. Avoid the mental condition that weighs toward the cheap side of your nature and think carefully about spending wisely. I have a gas model, and I travel lots and I hate the under power-ed-ness. I love the repair bills, but I long for diesel.
Buying is easy, selling is not so easy so make the right decision up front buy what you want once instead of learning the hard way.
I have owned 8 motor homes during the past 20 years… 4 diesels and 4 gas. I love the ride and comfort of a diesel pusher especially those with the air-ride suspension. But, when it comes to getting repairs, HOLY SMOKES, the Cummins and Allison mechanics make a killing on repairs. I just had to sell an ’01 Forest River Diesel Pusher half way thru a 10,000 mile road trip to Alaska because the Radiator fan blew several holes thru the radiator (gravel on road repairs)… $2300 to repair a radiator; The the Allison 4 speed automatic tranny threw a speed sensor as well as the shifter malfunctioned…. another $1600. Then add to that a $1700 tow bill from the middle of nowhere because the oil filter BLEW on the cummins and it looked like all hell broke loose. To make a long story short, I spent nearly $8,000 to just get the rig running. Then advertised it on Craigslist and nearly gave it away. I am DONE with diesels purely for HUGE cost of repairs…. if and when they are needed. Give me an 8.1 Chevy or a Triton V10 and at least most of the maintenance can be done by any auto or truck mechanic. Try finding a Cummins or Allison mechanic in Northern British Columbia or Alaska when you are 500 miles from nowhere and you will get my drift. Anyone else out there on my side of this debate???
I have the V10 Triton gas engine in my 26HE Itasca and we love it. Great rig for our intended use of weekend travels. It’s a reliable bullet proof engine that’s been perfected and around forever. This is a brute and will tow anything. And the new 6 speed transmission runs at under 2000 RPM at almost 60 mph. Had one in my 2002 class C and traded it in May 2016 and never had any engine problems. Only oil, filters, coolant, transmission fluid changes etc., all do it yourself items and all low cost. Take that you diesels….LOL
I drive 45′ MCI and Van Hool charter motor coaches for a living. So I can speak at least for the operating characteristics of diesel pushers in mountains and elsewhere. I am NOT a mechanic.
Big pushers will take you up a 6% grade well; if you begin at a decent 70 mph at the bottom of the the grade, you will lose some speed. But you should be doing at least 40-50 mph by the time you reach the summit.
Though not a mechanic, I can tell you our fleet has a few coaches with 1 million miles plus under their belts. They will last a long time with regular inspections and maintenance. I am not sure of the “RV House” lasting 100k; perhaps bus conversions last longer? I see 40-50 year old Eagle conversions still on the road.
I do not own an RV of any kind, but plan on buying as large a diesel pusher as I can afford when I retire from full time driving for a living.
About 18 months ago I had the opportunity to purchase a 33 foot 1982 Vogue II motorhome powered by a big block Chevy 454 cu in gas engine. I purchased the RV in Las Vegas and drove it back to my home in northern Alabama – a distance of some 1725 miles while pulling a Fiat 500 on a tow dolly. I kept meticulous records of my fuel consumption and calculated my mpg at every fuel stop and discovered that if I kept my speed between 55 and 60 mph I averaged right around 8 mpg and if I increased my speed to 65 mph my mpg dropped to less than 5 mpg – so much for running with the “big dogs”. Unbeknownst to me when I finally arrived home I discovered that I had driven across the country with a hole the size of a large goose egg on the top of the right side exhaust manifold and that the escaping exhaust gases had completely burned through one spark plug wire and severely damaged a second. So much for my carefull kept fuel consumption records.
I have no idea what the
Oops I hit the wrong button. As I was saying I have no idea what my mpg is going to be now as I have replaced the damaged manifold, plugs, plug wires, distributor cap, rotor, points, condenser, and coil,
The Math never lies. You should use MPG figures for models you are considering.
These MPG figures are for a 94 Ford F700 truck ( The chassis My RV is built on.)
it was available in both Gas and Diesel. I have measured 9.4 and the lowest MPG I have ever measured in the since I have owned it.
100 Gal @ 2.29 = $229 @ 6 MPG= 600 miles ($.3816 per mile)
100 Gal @ 2.35 = $235 @ 9.4 = 940 miles ($.2611 per mile)
Al de la Pena
If the world was flat, I’d consider gasoline; it’s not. I love to pass the gasoline rigs on grades, which are everywhere. When passing, you can hear the gas engine just screaming, and towing is not a problem.
Sorry…I hit the send button accidentally. My final comment was that about a year and a half ago I switched back to diesel but it’s a front end unit , not a pusher. So far no issues. So it seems to be the placement of the engine, not the type of engine.
Waned both gas and diesel coaches…both diesels were pushers. My schedule required me to be driving both during all seasons. I suffered extensive corrosion in both diesels resulting in water pumps, generators, etc seizing up and causing tow jobs and repairs that disrupted the trips. It seems to be an issue arising from the amount of salt, sand, and snow that gets sucked up into the rear engine compartment. A little extra sound is a minor inconvenience compared to two to three day lay ups waiting for parts and repairs and the inherent cost.
I’m back to driving gas again and so far have not experienced any major disruptions to my travels.
Like many sharing ideas here, we are also considering a used motor home and the decision between going gas or diesel took about a nano second to make, my cousin is a certified diesel mechanic, been one for many years. God, I love that guy!
Well, a person like Mitch is just the person you need to hear from before considering a purchase. Thanks Mitch.
Ok I’ll add my 2 cents to this Smack down. This was a nice informative article for those that are totally new to both models but there is so much more to consider. Let’s start with purchase price.Gas motorhomes are cheaper off the lot but resale suffers drastically compared to a diesel motorhome. So even though you have saved on the purchase you will lose big on the trade in or resale. Quality on build, well this does depend on manufacture and they are all different. Plus they all claim theirs are the best and have the best items installed. The best way to tell look at the TV’S installed and stereo’s. This is a true test on cutting corners. If they are claiming high end but have Walmart ( just a example that could be related to. ) TV’S and stereo’s. ( No name brands or bottom of the market systems.) Do research on TV’s and stereo’s for entry level vs upper shelf. Or just look at some new vehicles. Compare different brands and see what they install in their vehicles. Nothing for nothing but a 200,000 plus motorhome should have systems compared to BMW , Mercedes,and etc.. Hell paying over 100,000 should at least rate a upper end system. No excuse’s.. Now as to true real world comparison of gas vs diesel. Gas engines are great and have their place in work trucks and motorhomes. But they are no match for full time use vs a diesel. Working around town in work trucks they hold their own and are pretty much a write off in the end. Gas engines in a motorhome for weekend use or occasional use will probably be fine if you can put up with the draw backs as to noise and extra heat as mentioned. But for extended driving and constant use there is no comparison. There is a reason commercial trucks and buses run diesel motors. Ok now to rounding up engineers and getting their opinion and thoughts. I can tell you from experience and I speak for many , many mechanics when I say engineers are desk jockeys and have no real world experience with having to deal with problems that they have created by not giving any consideration to when something has to actually be worked on beyond plugging in a computer. The stupid placement of things or lack of access or even know failures that have been allowed to pass because in is cheaper to deal with it a dealer level vs having to retool a assembly line or change a supplier. This is a fact not opinion. It would have been better to group together a bunch of mechanics from various garages and ask them of their opinion on repairs and problems that they have come across. Because aside from the bragging from a engineer or manufacturer about how great their product is the mechanic that works on it can tell you the real truth about failures and design flaws and flops. AS to any Ford dealer working on a motorhome because it has a gas engine in it absolutely wrong.. 9 out of 10 times other than something very minor they will refer you back to the rv dealer due to not having the room or wanting to disassemble the motorhone to get to the engine for a replacement or other major repair. Now a truck dealership might be different but it depends on if they want the responsibility of tearing apart your motorhome. I heard of a motorhome that had to have the whole front end cut or whole windshield taken out to do a replacement on the engine. Yes the proper way might have been to drop the front end and drop it from the bottom. Because when that motor was installed there was no body just a chassis. Now you tell me what your local ford dealer has in his shop to lift your 35′ or 40′ motorhome, let alone fit it in a bay. Hense my feeling on engineers. Now that repair bill was over 11,000 dollars for that engine job. Not much of a savings. Now a diesel will go to a shop that is specialized in working on buses and as such removal will probably be somewhat straight forward but still labor intense in some cases. Again depending on engineer designs. Yes expensive but you should get twice the use before actually needing some sort of major repair. This is provided the motorhome was maintained and not abused. Like I had said there are so many things to actually consider as to doing this comparison. Now I’ll mention one very important thing that some engineer somewhere should have already been installing on these motorhomes. That is a fire suppression system such as boats have. This really should have been a no brainier to install a halon system in the engine bay. Now if they really wanted to pat themselves on the back this should have been done years ago and should be standard practice in all current motorhomes or even anything with a generator. Think of the lives or damages it could have prevented. Ok I’ll end with that for now. Again just my 2 cents. Oh as to my background in relaying the comments on these subjects is. I have over 20 years working in the mechanical field both at a dealer level and garage level. I also have over 2 million miles and 25 years of class A commercial driving experience also. I have owned rv’s, driven gas and diesel motorhomes and have owned a few boats. I always felt that opinions are great but should be backed up by some kind of practical experience in the subject. But again opinions are just that, someones opinion and take what you want from them. Sometimes they are helpful other times they are a annoyance. I hope that maybe some of this was of help to someone. Thanks for allowing me my 2 cents worth of rambling.
Mitch, that’s exactly the perspective I was looking for, and also what my initial hunch was leaning toward. Thanks for sharing it and spelling the diesel case out so clearly.
You have a section called “Fuel Economy” and didn’t list a single MPG number in there??? What gives?
Sadly, because RV manufactures don’t test or list the MPG’s like car companies. We have listed our personal tracking of mpg’s on all of our coaches which you can find here by searching mpg on the search bar at the bottom of any page. Here is the most recent: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/bounder-gas-rv-fuel-economy-mpg
The wife and I will be in the market to purchase an RV in the next year or so, and honestly I’m going diesel. Starting off our journey’s will not be nearly as long as yours, however I’m a power freak. I am a truck driver and was an Owner Operatir for five years. I know diesel fuel is more expensive, at times, and the repairs are horrific sometimes, but that’s why you have a maintenance account. Even if I don’t need the power, I like knowing its there if needed. Besides you only live once.
Oh and I’m addicted to your videos. I’m learning a lot.
Fort Knox, Kentucky
I was wondering if you have ever posted a cost per mile of operation with all the scheduled maintenance between the gas vs diesel. Other than the initial cost difference. We are still torn between the two. We are leaning towards the diesel but with the gas a lot of the oil and filter changes can be done by myself. When we retire, we plan on leaving home for a month or so at a time.
We have not, however we do document our expenses here: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/rv-living-cost
I’m like most male rv’ers its all about the mechanical side of things …….but my wife reminded me we are stopped and camping far more than we are driving down the road. “its more about the kitchen, bathroom,…….mattress, and convience. P.S. your motorhome sure sounds a lot quieter with addition of lizard skin. thanks for your postings. Curt……and Debbie
Yep, we try to tell people the same, its all about how much you drive and where you plan to drive.
Ah, gas versus diesel. I am a very inexperienced with RVs but have looked into the gas vs. diesel for large boats. Feel free to google marine surveyor David H. Pascoe who has written about the issue cutting through many myths. I pay dearly when filling the tanks with gasoline but avoid the astronomical diesel maintenance and repair bills. Pascoe warns “Beware that the cost of diesel ownership can be substantially higher over gas engines, particularly when buying used.”
It is true that Diesel service is more expensive in RVs but the service intervals are every 15k miles instead of every 5k miles in a Gas. Same concepts as the boat engines just on land 🙂
If your RV ever sits up, you have to watch gas as it gets stale and turns to varnish. Diesel can get algae. Both are nasty and can be lots of RV bucks to fix. I think diesel wins on the fuel shelf life equation, but that is an Internet opinion.
Thanks for good info
I have read all your articles and watched all your videos… But I would
still like your “experienced” opinion… If that’s ok.
My wife and I are retiring at age 66 next month, and we really need help
making a very big decision.
We found two beautiful 2006 Winnebago Coaches, one a 38j Adventurer Gas, 8.1
liter Chevy with Workhorse chassis and Allison 6 speed transmission, and the
other is a Winnebago Tour 40FD, 350 horse Cat Diesel with Freightliner
chassis and Allison transmission.
Both floor plans are nearly the same except the Gas has 3 slides, and the
diesel has 4 slides ( 2 slides in the bedroom on the diesel, 1 slide in the
bedroom on the Gas). Additionally, the Gas has. Mid- Coach Entry with a
Drivers door, the Diesel has a Front Entry (by passenger) door and no
The diesel is $95,000 and the Gas is $55,000… The Gas is around $400+ per
month and the Diesel is around $700+ per month.
I don’t believe that we would be 100% Fulltime but would be more likely to
be “Extended” periods of time, (3 to 6 months) and then headed back home to
see the Grandkids. Also (regarding usage)…. we would like to (Little-by-Little) see all the USA.
We picked the 2006 models as our choice because that is the year that they
added the Higher Interior Ceiling (7ft 2inches high) which gives a more
Some would say: “Just go with an older less expensive Diesel” but then we
lose the ceiling height, so we don’t want to go any older.
With the budget that we have to work with we can buy the Gas coach now, or
we could wait till after our house sells sometime next year and (maybe) be
in a better position to buy the Diesel.
So, after all of the traveling that you have done, and now driving your Gas
RV with all the Suspension improvements… Would you consider buying the Gas
RV now ( and save the $40,000)… Or would you wait to see if you could
afford the Diesel in the future?
Again, I have read all your articles and watched all your videos, but I
would love to have some of your Personal insight into our specific
If you could take a moment to give us your thoughts, we would be greatly
Again, thanks for all that you have posted, it has all been very helpful.
The purchase process is so extremely personal I cannot provide you with a definitive answer, but I can provide you with my honest opinion. Here it goes:
If purchasing a Gas RV means getting on the road 1-2 years earlier I say 100% without a doubt buy a gas coach. We’ve loved our Bounder and it’s our favorite floorplan of all the RVs we’ve owned. Yes, diesel power is great in the mountains and the ride is much better straight from the factory, but with our upgrades driving this gas RV has been much more pleasant.
The biggest issue for me is when you purchase a coach 5-10 years old you’ll want to budget quite a bit of money in repairs and replacements including new tires, new batteries, new roof, new TVs and who knows what else.
In the end you’ll have to purchase the coach that’s best for your needs, if you’re traveling slow (and shorter distances) then a gas coach will provide you with plenty of comfort.
I hope this helps shed some light.
I am a little confused… I figured that with most diesel engines, wouldn’t the turbo offset the high altitude? Unfortunately I have no idea about rv’s and I only have experience with a 2004 Ram Hemi and now a 2014 Ram 3500 Cummins. I love the videos, and am thinking about living on the road but may need to invest with a trailer in stead (since I have a H/D truck.) I have to say, that the 3500 did great with pikes peak and averages around 25 mpg which my Hemi averaged around 16 mpg :). I was also wondering, is there any great videos on the pros/cons on rv’s vs fifth wheels? Thank you and even though I may go a different route, I always love and respect the videos.
We made the class A decision because we didn’t want to log so many miles in a truck, we prefer the comfy seats and giant window of a class A (among many other things). Not sure if there are any videos about this topic, if you find any great resources feel free to share.
Oh yea I know what you mean with the trucks. I had to spend a pretty penny so I didn’t get rubber flooring in the truck. Thing cost $58k but I do love all the amenities of navigation, A/C, Heated seats, automatic everything, remote starter from my phone or key, weather radar and forecast, and that’s just the drop. The price though was high but I do love that luxury. Some things that I dislike is the stiff suspension (which if I pull something, I will fix that issue) and having to find a place to stop if you need to get something or if nature is calling. 😀
Truck is a Laramie 3500 mega cab Ram with all but moon roof and air suspension option.
We like our Gas Glass A, but want to upgrade to a Diesel after we retire and start taking longer trips. The handling and ride of the Ford Gas Chassis is terrrible and not suitable for longer days on the road. However, my main complaint is getting fuel for the GAS RVs. When traveling and pulling a dingy, it’s always a gamble if you can find a gas station that you can enter and exit without complications. A Diesel RV is welcomed at any Truck Stop where there’s the room to maneuver.
Very true, only downside is the Truck Stops are typically 20-30 cents more expensive per gallon than nearby filling stations.
Jason stated “We had an opportunity to test our Roy, our Fleetwood Excursion. Right now
we’re in a Gas coach that we will test for a year or so until Fleetwood needs it back.
I checked out the Fleetwood website. Is Fleetwood giving you a discount to test their RV’s?
We shared the full story here: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/story-behind-our-rv-design
One part of the gas vs diesel decision is fire safety. There seems to be a internet-consensus that diesel pushers have a higher rate of engine fires than gasoline RVs. Interestingly, you don’t see many diesel semi-trucks or cars on fire.
You might consider using your contacts in the field to determine if this consensus is based in fact, and if it is, explore means of prevention.
In your section on gas vs diesel you have an equation about mountain driving( 6% grade and 1 mph. What in the world does that mean. Also is the reason gaas engines are always in front is that they need the ram air through the radiator for cooling?
Hi Nikki and Jason, Susan Lujan here from California. Will share our gas coach nightmare with you. My husband and I first started with a new 2012 Thor Fourwinds 31F C-Class and absolutely hated the horrific, bumpy, noisy uncomfortable ride and the miserable tight space, (no leg room) on passenger side. We had it less than 8 months and sold it. Next we bought a used 2008 Fleetwood Southwind 32vs. So many things wrong with it. We got took on that. We put 20,000.00 into it trying to improve the miserable ride (Michelin tires, Koni Shocks, Air lifts, stabalizer) as well as other repairs, new monitor, grade brake, leaf spring, slide motor, new generator etc etc etc.This coach was a nightmare. No matter how much money we put into it trying to improve the miserable, fatiguing ride nothing, nothing improved this RV. So we told ourselves our next coach is going to be diesel and its going to be new. So we sold our Southwind through consignment and recently purchased a 2016 Forest River Berkshire 34QS. Its diesel. Coming straight from the factory. We drive to MHSRV in Alvardo TX to pick it up next week. Fingers crossed that this coach gives us the ride we want. That was the number one requirement on our list. The horrible, noisy, bumpy, fatiguing ride that we got from gas motorcoaches left a really sour taste in our mouth. We almost hung up RVing. Once we got to our destinations we loved our coaches but the drive getting their was so not fun, so not enjoyable. Having to yell at each other to hear each other talk. The rickety, squeaky noises the feeling every single bump that felt like the coach was going to shake apart was the worst experience ever. And I am NOT exaggerating. It was that bad and worse. So done with gas coaches. Fingers crossed that this new diesel will provide us with the comfort and ride we can enjoy. We will gladly pay the extra in fuel and basic maintenance if we get a nice ride. Thats our story. Love your youtube videos. The other night we watched your video into Alaska where you experienced the rock hitting your windshield and the nail in your tire. My goodness that was quite an experience but so entertaining and informative. We learned alot. Told my husband we are getting one of those patch kits and air compressors. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Happy travels.
Kit here. My husband and I have the same experience with our FourWinns Class C 30 footer. We want to upgrade to a class A and can’t decide between gas and diesel. Would love to hear your experience with your new purchase.
How unfortunate for you. Our Southwind 32 has been awesome. We added sway bars and Sumo’s and she is clean, easy and doesn’t rattle or any of the comments you made at all. Did you upgrade anything? And most important – we get into National and State Parks and places big DP’s can’t. We have driven across country, put on , 1,000’s of miles, deserts, mountains, heat and cold – and had total reliability.
And when our Southwind needs service – the local mechanic in almost ANY town can provide service. Last Synthetic oil change with filter was $90.
Maybe you got a lemon – don’t know? But for anyone reading your post, know our experience has been 100% the opposite. We love National and State Parks, cheap gas and oil and boondocking has been great.
Hello my wife and i are tossing around an rv. We have seen several online for sale at great prices however here lies our “bump-in-the-road”. Maintenance costs m…tires….oil…..fuel…..suspension…..engine….tranny….gen set…..shore power…..upgrades ( say older rv/coach to new appliances lighting and cosmetics ).
Have tossed idea of bus …..however Dad is a retired diesel mechanic and i know doesel can be expensive to service. Is there such a thing as rear engine gas rv?
We are “newbies” to this as wee seek rv to pull our 20ft. pontoon to lake for weekend get a ways a and traveling visit family out of state.
I have not ever seen a rear engine gas RV and not sure that there would be any real advantage to it. We are in a gas coach now and while it is louder, its not obnoxious by any means. We can still have a conversation.
See Carl Sundburg Comments above…talks about his Gas Pusher???
Kevin I could write a book on this issue but let me keep it short. Once a bus like my Country coach concept is over ten or so years old financing is near impossible. So that means if you have cash, buying a high end coach is the best value hands down. If you are pulling something like a boat Diesel is the best, period. No gas engine can compare. As far as your worry about upkeep, I wish I knew who came up with the idea that diesel was more expensive to maintain. Example:Yes more money for oil change, about 200 bucks but how often vs gas, get my point. Over the road trucks are exclusively diesel, Why? enough said. My motor will outlast 10 gas engines. But its not just about engine its the whole package. Let the rich guy pay half a million for a new diesel and you wait a few years and buy it for 10 or 20 cents on the dollar. My rv with total repair and buying costs still kept me under 40 for a coach that today new would be sold for 1 to 1.25 million. (in 2000 when they stopped the Concept line they were 600 k) Good luck
An old Rolls Royce is still a rolls with Rolls quality. Incidently my coach was 379 k new in 1990, yes in 1990
How often do chance your RV? do you do on a time schedule or Mileage? When and how do you make that decision? thanks
We had our first RV for 1 year, but it was a lemon so we don’t really count that. We had Windy, the Monaco Vesta, for 3 years or so and would have kept her another couple years but then we had an opportunity to test our Roy, our Fleetwood Excursion. Right now we’re in a Gas coach that we will test for a year or so until Fleetwood needs it back.
Last year I purchased a 2015 Discovery Bounder Class A 35 gas coach. After about a dozen trips I decided to sell it off. Here were my reasons, while I must say it was a beautiful coach it is in no way in the league of the coach we replaced it with. Believe it or not we took a brand new coach and traded it for a 2008 Tiffin Phaeton 36 ash (and had to add money). He was my reasoning:
Engine, we tow a jeep wrangler, the Bounder was rated at 5000lbs, the Phaeton 10000lbs,
Going up a grade, the Bounder would be lucky to maintain 40 on a 6 percent grade, Phaeton 60 no problem.
The Bounder had a V10 Ford with little over 450ft lbs torque, the Phaeton 1050 ft lbs torque, also the ford sounded like a wounded water buffalo when under heavy load and the constant moaning was awful.
Ride: Bounder, leaf springs, Phaeton air suspension, no comparison. Riding on rocks vs air!
Brakes, Bounder uses hydraulic drum brakes, Phaeton uses hd truck commercial disc air brakes, no comparison.
More on brakes, Bounder, no aux breaking, Phaeton has engine and transmission retarder braking, you can tell the real difference when you need to stop fast!
Transmission: Bounder 5 speed medium duty trans, Phaeton Allison MH3000 HD transmission.
Frame, Bounder modified Ford truck chassis, Phaeton, Freighliner custom truck chassis.
Driving, I could list a bunch of differences here, all I need to say is go drive them both.
Fuel Economy, the diesel actually is more economal over the long haul, oiil changes are less frequent though they will cost you more then gas.
After the glitz and glitter was over after purchasing the new Bounder the reality of how badly it drove and performed. I never felt safe and was always worn out after a trip. Surely not what RVing is all about. It was a big jump to afford the diesel but it was so worth it, I can’t even put it into words.
You might ask why in the heck would any intelligent person trade a brand new motor home for a 7 year older one.
Bottom line it was the right thing to do. For a perspective buyer all I can suggest if you are looking at gas to save a few bucks do yourself a big favor, DRIVE BOTH, if you can rent both and take them on a test trip. All of what I have said will make perfect sense and when it’s done and over you will thank me!
Thanks for your commentary. My wife and I are considering delving into the world of RVing. Never had one before, never drove one. But I always thought I would own or rent one. We enjoy jetting around (or just flying) from one location to the next. We enjoy cruising and sometimes charting private water excursions. As we age and prepare to become que se empty-nesters, we are thinking of taking to the road. We thought we’d dive right in with a Class A. I figured I would start with a used model but had no idea of the gas vs. diesel discussion. These comments are helpful. Once I retire, I’ll decide if we want to sell the house and go all out. But for now, we are reviewing the options, testing what out there and looking down the road. We intend to take a test trip and although I’ve never been a fan of diesel cars (I drive a Mercedes and they are famous for their diesel models), I never opted to purchase one. But we are talking night and day here and with the tiny bit of knowledge I have gained from this reading, it appears diesel must be in the mix. Once we take one of these trips, more family members will be with my wife and I, that’s why we’re considering the A class. We’ll stand by and peek in on this blog to see what others think. Hopefully, y’all’s comments will help point us in the right direction. BTW, I won’t have to dump that 42 gallon sewer tank, right?
Generally, diesel pushers ride far better than as compared to gas powered rigs on the average roads in America. When it comes to mountain travel due to higher engine torque & engine auxiliary breaking features.
The higher cost of diesel can be cut at tax time.
Remember all those road use taxes for commercial vehicles you still pay unless you can fill out a tax form at the fuel counter and then can be filed at the end of the year adding that what, $0.48 a gallon back at the end of the year for a how many gallons nice tax refund of your money.
Next time when at the meeting of engineers ask them why diesel engines were banned at Indy in the early years. Short version was the gas cars were complaining about the more powerful engines that kept beating their cars and the officials banned them. It’s still there but no one even tries diesel any more in racing. I guess something about not glamorous enough.
Tell me more about the tax credit you are talking about.
The credit is not available to most taxpayers but only to qualified taxpayers, such as taxpayers engaged in farming. However, some ineligible taxpayers claim the credit in order to inflate their refunds. Fuel tax credit fraud can result in a penalty of $5,000.
We are on 10 week trip our aluminum can 2013 airstream 23 D being pulled with 2014 ram 6.7 cummins diesel the cummins now has 27k miles we are getting between 14 and 16 mpg, difference seems to be mountain passes and speed of climbing using fuel.
Diesel fuel is 3.15 to 3.35 gas is $1.00 more ?? I believe the diesel is cleaner and less volatile. Our aluminum can weight is 6k lbs⛳️⛳️
Only negative you need to find qualified mechanic for cummins service, ram dealers out to lunch on service
fairly new to RVing…bought a 32′ gas motorhome in early 2014. Love the motorhome; hated to drive it. I hope that other gas RVs that have better overall length to wheelbase ratio handles better than ours did. Ours was just scary to drive. It is like the one semi-driver said …I know they were laughing at my white knuckles when they passed me!!! We traded on a 43′ DP with tag axle and there is no comparison in the drive. Yes it will cost me a lot more, but I value my life and family’s life. Maybe if someone develops a better chassis and steering box for gas RV then there maybe something to compare.
So here are my thoughts:
You have the money for a Gas or Diesel RV.
Buy gas if you plan on mainly running between Florida and New England seasonal campsites..snow bird style.
If you are going to travel frequently all over the country buy diesel.
I am in the hunt for a used RV for under 40k 2000-2005. Would like to get one with under 50k miles. Would it be better to go with a pusher over gas. I noticed as they get older the price of gas & diesel are about the same.
Nicely done article and some interesting perspective. I didn’t read all the other comments, but one other thing I think is a major differentiator is cargo capacity. As we moved into full timing that was a big factor in our decision process. And when you start adding luxury items like real wood and tile the weight climbs dramatically. It would be interesting to see what the CCC is for the two coaches in your report. If the fit and finish of both are similar I would imagine the Excursion would have a notably higher CCC.
Another thought is floor plan choices, there are only a few gas units that have opposing slides which are a big comfort factor in my view. I imagine that limitation is driven by the door placement on gas rigs. I was helping a friend look for a gas rig with opposing slides and 1-1/2 baths and best I can tell there is only one model that offers that combination. Also the large tail swing on the longer gas units can be an issue.
Finally I disagree that DEF is hard to find or is a significant cost. We have a Cummins ISL 450HP and just buy our DEF at Walmart or Sams Club in the 2.5 gallon jugs. Never had problems finding it and while the $4.50/gal or so cost of buying it this way may seem high, it is extremely convenient and the tiny amount that we consume is such a trivial part of the operating expenses. According to our log, in about 15K miles we have only bought 5 boxes (12.5 gals) for a total of roughly $56. Considering our 10gal tank was full at delivery and is more than half full now that puts us right on the estimated 1% consumption mark after 1800 gallons of diesel.
For us as full timers there would be no going back to a gas unit.
Your well written articles and interesting videos are an inspiration, and thought provoking. My wife and I are retired and we full-timed two years 2011-2013 in a very basic Keystone 24′ travel trailer, which we sold in ’13. Now we are preparing to once again full time RV later this year, and are shopping for a 30′ class A. We are defaulting to gasoline power for budget reasons. We like the Thor ACE 29.3 for features, layout, and price, but wonder if it will be durable enough to last us 5+ years of expected full timing in it. The idea of only making 30 mph on a 6% one mile upgrade is a little scary. It’s hard to believe that the Ford V10 engine wouldn’t be a little more capable than that, but I’ve yet to drive one. Our travel trailer had a loaded weight of around 6000 lbs. The truck with its stuff in the bed (tools, generator, etc) weighed in around 5800 pounds itself. We were able to keep speeds above 45 in that same situation pulling with a ’06 Tundra and 4.7 liter V8. I am puzzled that even the 29 and 30 Thor ACE models weigh 16k to 18k pounds dry. Weight, speed and frontal area are the big determinants of mpg, with weight probably the biggest. Our truck-trailer combo got 10-12 mpg overall (~8 mpg in the mountains)
there is only two reasons to buy a diesel pusher,,,
because you want to …and because you can
it will never make any economical sense…
the diesel is quiet and slow…
the gas roars and goes fast…
pulling the same loaded trailer up a 6% grade… the 33d
which I own now.. is 16 mph slower…
so that being said.. if I drive the gas coach that slow …
That’s pretty short-sighted. Why do you think over-the-road trailer trucks have used diesel engines for decades? The answer is obvious and painfully simple; the reason is because diesel engines are better suited for heavy duty applications. They’re more powerful and they last longer. They’re also simpler, which translates into fewer parts to wear out. In addition, the typical air brake system found on diesel vehicles is far more powerful than those normally used on gas-powered vehicles. And, to your “quiet” comment, there’s no way a front-mounted gas engine is going to be quieter than a rear-engine diesel pusher – no comparison.
Anytime someone can’t afford something, it’s predictable that they’ll try to come up with all kinds of reasons they really didn’t want it in the first place. It’s called rationalizing. But it doesn’t change the facts.
I’ve worked in trucking the last 25 years. You’re missing a huge piece of the puzzle. Trucking industry has used diesel for years purely for torque. You cannot haul 80,000 lbs up a hill with a gas motor. However your leaving out the fact that trucking industries charge our customers to pay for our trucks. Especially in recent years with DEF and new regulations we charge our customers more per mile because the cost of maintaining diesels is incredibly high. What was 25 years ago no longer applies today. Diesels due to Federal regulations have become astronomically expensive. I know, we have over 800 of them. Towing bills alone for failures of the newer diesels make me cringe. The amount of time drivers lose when their truck goes down waiting for repairs makes me cringe. If it were my personal vehicle I just plain don’t have the pockets for that kind of downtime and repair costs. I can’t charge the future customers a higher rate like trucking companies can to try and recoup some of that money. Gas is not always the answer and neither is diesel. It’s up to the individuals use and financial situation. When comparing diesel vs. gas these days all the old arguments about when someone had a diesel and it lasted 22 years and had 6.5 million miles on it without even a blown injector are gone. Comparisons of diesel vs gas these days have to use specs from the last 10 years. Anything older than that goes back to diesels that were pre regulation and those days are gone and over with thanks to federal regulation. The new diesels are not the same as the old and old stats and figures cannot be used to bolster support for the new diesels. It is a new day and we need to recognize that and not just go with the fact that someone’s Uncle Jimmy had great experiences with diesels 30 years ago.
I AM A MONTH OR SO FROM BEGINNING A NEW CHRISTIAN MINISTRY…………SO MY BUDGET IS LIMITED.
BUT, DIESEL IS QUIETER, MORE POWERFUL, A MUCH BETTER RIDE AND ON AND ON,………..
I PLAN TO BUY AN EXTENDED WARRANTY. IS THE NORMAL MAINTAINENCE THAT MUCH MORE THAN GAS…………HELP ME……..!!!
We find it all comes out in the wash but no matter how you slice it, a diesel engine costs more up front.
We are running a gas Itasca 27-foot class-A, 2003 on a Workhorse P32 chassis, GM 8.1L motor & 4-speed tranny.
For us, it’s a great package with 9mpg “naked” and 7.5mpg towing a 4500-pound 4×4 pickup. I can make 55, towing, up a 5% grade any day with that big 496cuin engine. We’ve modded it to cure all the chassis ills, added a Gear Vendors over/underdrive for more gears, and done a ton of “house” mods as well.
The features of a diesel (for us) would be engine braking and air ride. Disadvantages: much more weight, higher operating expenses, more limited service resources, double the price for tires.
Build quality? We’ve beaten the snot out of this coach on horrible roads all over the West. Winnebago/Itasca steel frames and cabinet construction are awesomely tough.
Do all Diesel pushers have cold weather packages or arctic packages?
I am thinking about purchasing a diesel pusher but I work in some very cold places.
All coaches features vary dramatically and no they do not all have cold weather packages. Make sure you have a list of all of your ‘must haves’ with you while you are shopping so you get the coach you ‘need’ and want. 🙂
Late Model Used Diesel Pushers (2000)… I’m looking at several and noticed the price difference with Winnebago (Chieftain) gas and diesel are very close. It’s interesting with such a quality RV that the price differences seem to shrink with age. I’m also thinking that perhaps the holdover from higher fuel prices really scared people away from Diesel – especially this class of RV. Also wondering why more don’t consider buying and living in a large quality used diesel pusher. I am about to make the plunge!
We’re with you. We’re looking at used….these motorhomes depreciate too much!
Wife and I spent the last 6 months researching Class A RV’s.
We test drove a Thor gas, not impressed with the interior and engine noise, lack of power.
Located in San Diego, I fly to Salt Lake City next week to take delivery on our new Fleetwood Excursion 33D.
Yeah . . . could have saved thousands on a gas, but we would have been miserable with the decision.
Especially if we ever decide to sell it later (higher resale).
This is our first RV, and we will be full timers.
A big decision . . . . and we have followed your posts and videos every step of the way, especially your recommendations on solar and other equipment.
Fleetwood Motor Coach should be passing you on a sales salary, because your RV looks like ours!
Anyway . . . . we will consider a gas RV when we see Tractor-Trailer rigs pull their loads with them . . . . never.
Jason, Also ours came with a propane powered generator .. Do you find any advantages / disadvantages of this over a diesel powered generator.. Or is it personal preference ? It does seem quieter & there is no smell to upset anyone nearby…
We don’t have any personal experience with propane generators, but they are typically found in small RVs so I’m guessing they’re not as powerful or maybe less expensive? Not really sure.
Hello Jason, I,ve owned 7 different RV’s over the years and the last 6 were gas. After hearing from owners I finally took the plunge into a diesel pusher. Wow!! Is all I gotta say.. The Allegro Bus with the Freightliner Custom Chassis blows my Last Rig a Thor Residency into the weeds! The Thor was well made but lacked in the power, ride & noise dept, especially when towing a car behind it. On steep hills we barely could do 30 … With the Diesel we can do 65 up the same hill with minimal effort. Having the engine brake is also a huge asset when descending long grades. The ride is so far superior it’s like night & day..
I cannot stress enough don’t drive one unless you intend to buy one. Once spoiled by the diesel rig it’s hard to go back to gas rig. I’ve also noticed there is way less flexing in the rig a common problem in gas models. Another huge plus are it’s air brakes are far superior. Your video was great. I can truthfully say.. I can back up your findings 100% keep up the good work!
Hello Jason, quick question….
I’m trying to decide between diesel or gas for a Ford e150/e250 or something similar. I’ll be working seasonally for 3-6 months out of the year (stealth camping, so not many miles driving) and for the rest of the year I’ll be road tripping.
My question is, will the money I save on mpg of the diesel while road tripping exceed the money I’ll be spending on its higher cost while I’m just moving around one city during work?
Saving money is my primary goal. Diesel or Gas?
It’s impossible to say. In general Gas is less expensive for a short term solution, if you plan to drive the heck out of it then diesel might be a better choice in the long run.
Jason, my biggest concern is gas mileage. We have a Fleetwood Discovery 39 foot that gets 6.6mpg which is stinky. Looking at a Thor front engine diesel which looks like you may have started with. Any comments on that, I am reading up to 14 mpg?
If you’re coming from a Discovery you may be surprised at the quality difference between the Thor Product and the Discovery. As for MPG we used to get around 12mpg with our Damon Avanti, 11mpg with our Monaco Vesta and around 10MPG with our Fleetwood Excursion. Of course everything depends on how much weight your carrying, what you’re towing and the terrain you’re driving on. Read this article: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/fleetwood-excursion-fuel-economy
Why do you think they don’t make factory air ride for gas motorhomes?
Not sure why, it might have to do with the Ford Chassis or simply cost.
Thanks for the good video. We own a Excursion 33D and love the power, ride and the Diesel. No noise driving and no noise sleeping.
Would not buy a Gas after driven a Diesel.
It’s difficult to imagine going to Gas after owning a Diesel.
Thank you, for the time you took to compare the two. I am a lonely beginner who is looking to buy a mini bus, that seats 20, with a 5.7 gas engine up front. I was thinking that a 5.9 Cummins Diesel engine would be better if I was to convert the bus to a motorhome/camper, and wanted to add a tow hitch. Any thoughts, or opinions would be greatly considered and appreciated
Roger, Its a difficult decision but I’d say if you’re buying a used bus with high mileage the diesel engine should last a lot longer. Good luck.
Jason, a couple questions: 1) What about the comparison for dry camping? Can you say more about the diffs between gas/diesel for that scenario? Along those same lines, does the Bounder have a gas or diesel generator?
Dry Camping – Some gas RVs are not made as well as their diesel brothers so insulation may be different, in the case of these two RVs they are built exactly the same so other than tank sizes you won’t have any benefits/disadvantages there.
Generator – Gas RVs typically have gas generators, Diesel RVs typically have diesel generators.
I think that the length of time you will own your MH should be taken into consideration also.
I read that the avg. turn over is 3.5-4 years on getting a new RV.
I personally don’t think the extra (MAJOR EXTRA) money is worth it as far as buying the diesel models, even if you have your rig for 5 years.
Most folks don’t put more than 3000 miles a year (that may be high) on the rig unless they are full timing but that is a whole other convo.
I have been looking into MH’s now for @ two years and have went all over the place as far as gas vs diesel and I think that as far as the avg. RVer, not full timer, a gas is the more cost efficient unit to get.
Please let me add a cavet here, I own a 35′ 5th wheel TH and pull it with an Duramax diesel engine. I could not be more happy with the performance of the truck pulling the rig. I have pulled it from Louisiana all the way to California crossing the mountains in north New Mexico & Arizona. I also hit the north side of Nev. & Utah on the way back. The diesel engine is a beast and never blinked an eye.
Still, motor homes are not 5th wheels and the depreciation factor is higher just due to the type of rig they are.
Maybe once the wife & I are able to shuck everything and go “full-time” we will get something that will last a long time. For now it looks like we will go with the gas MH for now and see if my thoughts on this pay off.
Just my two cents.
Thanks for sharing, I too agree with the logic so I wish you luck on your new motorhome adventure.
I haven’t read all of the responses to this article. That said, I’d like to address weights and capacities and ignore all the talk about MPG, etc.
I purchased the only MH I’ve ever owned from its first owner. It was nearly 20 years old–used, but not abused. It is a 40′ Foretravel, and my wife is too afraid to drive it. Before buying I had never driven anything bigger than a U-Haul!
It has 100 gal. fresh water, 154 gal. diesel fuel, 40 gal. black water, and 124 gal. of propane. Because it has bus-like construction, there are underneath storage bins until the end of the world.
The best thing is that it is NEVER overloaded! With 33,000 GVW and a wet weight of near 22,000, there is over five TONS left for tables, chairs, clothing, food, etc. It has a 10,000 lb. hitch, and an air bag suspension. Road handling is wonderful with its huge wheelbase, even in wind..
I studied specs, prices, etc. for several years before buying this one.
I love its 1400 to 1500 mile fuel range.
When I compare all of its advantages, any cost differences are so small it makes no sense for me to have chosen gas. Sure, if you buy new or recently new, the cost difference is substantial.
I’ve been happy with it for 8 years.
We love Foretravel, we even featured them in one of our articles while we were in Nac. TX: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/foretravel-tx
Thanks for sharing.
Jason – you left out a BIG consideration, and no comments mentioned it: passenger- side seating and view. We are on our third 36-foot gas coach (2009 Bounder 35H), so we have nearly 100,000 miles of experience in these “larger” gas motorhomes, each with the Ford V-10 gas engine.
Our biggest concern is that the co-pilot has a much smaller, less useful travel station in the front-door diesel pushers than in our mid-door Bounder gasser. (This has nothing to do with engine type; it is all about door position in the coach.)
The Bounder wth it’s mid-entry door allows the co-pilot a very large window to the right, as well as a big, wide dash area in front. The dash also features a pull-out drawer holding all sorts of stuff, and a pull-out panel that perfectly fits a laptop. Below the drawer are 110-volt and 12-volt power outlets for easy access without cords running everywhere. I can tell you that MANY DP’s are seriously lacking in power outlets for the co-pilot position.
My co-pilot (wife) is really the navigator, as she rarely drives, and so the ability to stick our GPS on her huge right-side window really helps her guide me along the route. I don’t have to watch the map on the dashboard – I can focus on the road! She can reach the GPS easily to reprogram, turn sound up/down/off, etc. Try that from your typical DP co-pilot seat, where the window is too small, the windshield is four feet away, and the built-in GPS cannot be seen at all by the “navigator”.
Most newer high-end DP’s now have a powered step-cover, but the older ones left the co-pilot’s feet dangling over the steps. My wife loves to rest her feet on the dash as we roll along, but that’s not possible in the DP either!
We have looked at all levels of DPs for many years, including the mid-door models, but NONE of them seem to give any consideration to the co-pilot position. We will continue to look, but until one of the manufacturers wakes up and realizes that there are two people up front, we will remain happy Bounder owners….
Thanks for sharing Frank, we too love the workstations built into the Gas RV models. This particular article and video are only addressing the engine and the few things that are mostly effected by the engine size/placement. We also filmed another video that we should launch in October that is an RV smackdown between the Bounder and Excursion. In here we dive into some of the things we like/dislike about each model. You’ll have to chime in and let us know what you think once the video goes live.
We bought a 2014 gas Tiffin 36LA. Based on forum research I added a rear track bar and a steering stabilizer. I did that early in but have no complaints with sway or handling in general. The ride could be better but I am still working on tire pressures. No complaints or regrets so far.
We very nearly bought an Excursion 35C. I did all. The research and made the 120 mile trek to the dealer several times to see them. Then I took my wife. She did not like the small bedroom on the Excursion. We ended up looking at a gas Tiffin 36LA. We both really liked that floorplan. So we ended up with a gas motorhome that was $30,000 cheaper. Since May we have driven it 7,500 miles from Texas to Washington state and back and then from Texas to Indiana and back. No issues so far. I am very happy with the build quality and it drives well enough. I do occasionally wish we had bought the diesel but really I think that finding the right floorplan and features is more important. I have no regrets.
Turbo diesel’s perform better than a naturally aspirated gas engine for two reasons.
First is that turbo charger makes it’s own atmosphere…..sorta. You’ll make slightly less boost which will reduce power slightly but near as bad as a NA engine would.
The second and more important reason diesels do better at altitude is that they are lean burn engines. Meaning the air fuel mix has excess air and all the fuel is burned compared to an rich burn NA engine that has excess fuel and all the air is burned. So when you start removing air from the equation the gas engine immediatly starts loosing power, but with a diesel you already have an excess amount of air so you can loose quite a bit of air before you start loosing power.
Hence the reasons why truckers hauling big weight always go with a turbo charged diesel.
I see one mistake. The gas, being naturally aspirated, will most definitely not handle high altitude better. The turbocharged diesel will make rated horsepower at any altitude you can find a road. The naturally aspirated gas will lose power roughly proportionally to the increase in altitude.
According to the engineers it was unanimous that a gas engine would perform better at high altitudes, something about thinning of the fuel and colder temps affecting the DEF of the Diesel more.
There was some sort of misunderstanding involved here, because no engineer would make that statement. No naturally aspirated engine can compete with a turbocharged engine with a comparable sea level rating at high altitude.
Million mile engine and hundred-thousand miles worth of “sticks and staples” vs. million mile engine and million mile chassis . . . older bus conversions in good shape are dog cheap right now (making financing less of an issue). Do like Cherie and Chris with their 35 footer and it won’t be that much longer than what you’ve got. — edward
Deana has a great question as to how long is your limit is when buying a MH. I have already stated my opinion but would like to hear how more length would have negatively impacted your ventures.
Regardless, my solution will be to tow a mini camper as my toad. That way I am limitless as to where I can visit. While traveling around why would you limit your living space? Any size gets easier in a short time to get accustomed to driving. Heck, to this day, I can park a 260 wheel base tractor better than I can my wife’s Honda ridgeline. It’s whatever you are used to imo but want to hear what our favorite full timers have to say. I understand budget comes into play but it’s easy to get around that by buying an older rv (say around 3-4 years would be the limit). You can drop 150000 on a 35 ft Fleetwood DP new after dickering (25 -30 % off) or buy used and drive away in a 42 eagle, 4 years old for around the same $. Seems like a no brainer. Is my logic sound? Thanks you two, you have inspired this old trucker to head down a road I have not traveled yet. Please have a safe trip where ever you head to next.
What a great video and discussion. As usual we love what you share. Could you touch on a couple of additional consideration items for me please? You have talked often of your desire to stay under a certain max length a) would you mind reminding me what your absolute max length preference is and b) now that you have a DP would you change that in order to stay with a DP ( meaning, do you have a new max length)? The second question is: is there any consideration which should be given to first time motorhome ownership. My husband and I only have towable experience to date but definitely want to move to something drive-able. All other things being equal, is a persons’ very first motorhome ownership experience best as a gas or a diesel if all prior automotive experience has been with gas trucks and cars? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
It’s super important to figure out what kind of traveling and camping you want to do, then start looking at RV’s that suit that style. We like staying in State & National parks along with wild camping on BLM, National Forest and such…so size does make a difference as some places are going to be difficult to get into. Also, some campgrounds (and roads within national and state parks) have 30 or 35ft length limits. So we always suggest wild camping fanatics like us stay under 35ft. If you plan on always going to an RV park (our least favorite type of camping) then a larger RV is fine. Here is an older post you may be interested in with a little more thought on that kind of stuff: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/top-rv-picks
One thing I didn’t see you comment on is that gasoline is an explosive, whereas diesel is only flammable and takes somewhat longer to ignite. There was one comment in passing about flammability. The explosive hazard of gasoline is very much something to consider in an RV, as it is with a boat.
The flashpoint of gasoline is -45F. Gasoline is explosive, even in subzero temperatures. A spark of any kind can cause an explosion, especially to gasoline vapor.
The flashpoint of diesel is +126F.
Biodiesel is even safer, with a flashpoint of +266F
Gasoline is more vaporous than diesel, too. If you have a leak, the vapors, which are far more volatile than the liquid, settle low in the “container” which in this case is your RV, under where you live.
Will you have time to evacuate in a gasoline explosion versus a slower burning diesel fire?
Years ago I made the mistake of igniting a large brush pile with about 1 quart of gasoline. The pile was 30 feet long x 6 feet high x 8 feet wide. When I threw the match on it, the entire thing lifted about two feet off the ground, and burned out within 5 minutes.
I then used diesel on other brush piles. Using a similar amount of diesel, it took more effort to ignite, but the burn was much more easily controlled, and extinguishable with water. The pile took 20 minutes to burn out.
I read that 8 oz of gasoline is equivalent to 15 sticks of dynamite. I don’t know if that is true but I would not want to take that chance.
Given the potential safety issue in gas versus diesel, isn’t that worth pointing out?
I personally would not want to sleep over a gasoline tank.
Thanks for sharing. Safety is a top concern so I can understand exactly what you’re saying. I’ll have to ask around to see what precautions the industry is making in regards to the flammability of fuel.
1988: On January 1, 1988, a joint venture between Penske Corporation and General Motors created Detroit Diesel Corporation, the successor to the heavy-duty diesel engine business of the Detroit Allison Division. The deal gave Penske a 60% majority ownership in the new venture and infused new leadership through its CEO, former racecar driver Roger Penske. Penske’s unique brand of leadership helped direct the company in the face of a highly competitive marketplace where the price index had been stagnant for more than four years. Roger is why I switched all 30 of our tractors to detroits. NOTHING BETTER OUT THERE! imo
Awesome, thanks Chip.
oh, geesh, should have proof read, let me say it one more time ” BESIDES ” lol one more point… Jake Brakes save lives, again it’s all about stopping. I’ve been parked in one of the run offs you see on the “Grape Vine” in Cali and also Eagle Mtn here on the dirty side. It’s not something you want to experience. That engine brake is a must while doing any mountain. Another reason to go diesel. Thanks again
our first two rvs didn’t have a jake brake, we are so happy our new Excursion is equipped with one.
My parents loved the rv lifestyle but I never was very interested, maybe due to the fact I put more than 2,000,000 miles behind me driving an eighteen for 20 years over the road. Been retired for a while and did the boat thing but found I was always a slave to the weather not to mention the very high cost of upkeep. So now I’m not feeling as burnt out on driving as I once was, have sold the boat and presently involved in all the topics concerning RV’s. For me, there is no debate between gas or diesel, it’s an oil burner for me and get the biggest you can afford. My last Pete had a series 60 Detroit putting out close to 700 hp and nearly 1700 lbs. of torque, hooked to an 18 speed fuller tranny. Bottom line, when the machine doing the work is not struggling to do it’s job, it makes it so much easier for the wheel holder to remain comfortable and relaxed. It’s a vacation, so let’s make the driving as easy as possible. going class A dp, used newell, 6-7 years or a prevost and let’s face facts, the biggest concern should be safety and stopping is number one. Give me that third tag axle so I have enough brakes to stop the beast. Nothing against the 35+ mh dp but no way you will stop as quickly as my 42 with three axles. Besides those single axle stretched mh’s had all us professional drivers laughing because we all knew it will take too long to stop. Besides, they always look like they could pop a wheelie at any moment. lol Buy used, buy big, buy diesel and let’s enjoy the trip cause it’s just a one way deal. Besides, I don’t want to run into any old drivers I know and not be able to blow their doors off crossing the desert.
Catch you cats on the flip flop
keep the shiny side up
Thanks for all the great info
Hey Mr. Chips,
Its funny you like Detroit Diesel, let me share an interesting story that we heard from Fleetwood:
In their American Coach line you can option the Cummins or the Detroit. The Detroit offers more HP, more torque, an awesome real-time tech support that can diagnose any engine issues as soon as they are logged into the onboard computer…and get this they are less expensive! Fleetwood can’t figure out why they sell the red engine 10 to 1 vs the Detroit. Sounds like the DD is a no brainer to me.
Thanks for sharing.
This is the best discussion on this subject BY FAR that I have seen in the last 3-4 years that I have been shopping for an RV. I know the price comparisons are very necessary, but how can you measure the cost of enduring noise, side winds, lack of stability, slow pace uphill, being cramped with long legs around the gas motor house, etc that keeps being mentioned if driving a gas model out West, which is where I want to visit in my motor home when I get it.
I recently have even been counseled that a much better deal would be to get a good diesel truck and pull a fifth wheel with an equally good floor layout and even more headroom than a motor home. I do not know how one could test drive that combination to compare to a motor home. I have been to two Super RV Shows and no one ever even offered a test drive of anything.
I had about decided upon a Tiffin 31 SA (like Amy above mentioned) but wanted a test drive to see how noisy the motor would be. Sounds like she thought it was very noisy. My wife and I rented a Coachmen Mirada 34 footer a couple years ago. It was close to 10 years old and the motor was VERY loud when we shifted to D3 to go up or down steep hills around Denver. We made a video of the trip, and the video audio portion is hard to hear due to the engine noise.
We plan to go to the Hershey Supershow this September and want to test drive the Tiffin, Fleetwood, etc in gas and diesel to compare all these things. I wish there were an easy way to format and print all these comments to take along with us.
The other biggest debate in RV history has gotta be Trailer vs Motorhome! For us we do not want to drive a truck all across the USA and log tens of thousands of miles sitting in a chevy pickup. If you want a good deal we say go for a nice diesel RV that’s around 5 years old. Good luck at the Hershey Supershow.
Thanks for the advice. The only misgiving I have there is buying anything used. I have heard and read about prior accident damage that is not disclosed, water damage that has been cosmetically hidden, etc. I read about all the things for which RV owners file insurance claims (like driving into low-hanging tree branches, backing into gas pumps or scraping the RV sides with too tight a turn, driving off from a camp site with the power cords still plugged in, etc). How can you know that you are getting undamaged goods?
Now that I cannot help you with Steven. Sorry.
Jonathon Barton (@jonathonbarton)
I guess the way I look at it is this:
New 2014 Monaco Knight 40PDQ: $310,000.
Used 2013 Monaco Knight 40PDQ: $237,000.
It’s *exceptionally* unlikely that I’ll spend $73,000 fixing something that the DAPO did. Sure, there will be things that need some TLC, but some of that will be part of the customization costs…
However, if it becomes obvious that there was significant and deliberate misrepresentation regarding the condition of the coach (like the aforementioned water damage that had been cosmetically concealed), there’s always the option to lawyer up – that level of misrepresentation probably crosses the line into fraud.
It’s a pain in the Tow Dolly if you get something that needs even one significant repair to be “like new”, but in my estimation, the risk of that is very low, while the opportunity cost of buying new (What else could you do with that extra $73,000? I can think of a lot of things!) is very, very high.
Great comparison and it made me very pleased with my choice of RV – a small 26 ft diesel Class C (2014 Winnebago View Profile) which I bought new for about $100K. Last year, I drove 18,000 doing travel. My fuel mileage was 16.3 mpg over the course of the year with a 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel. Using an ave fuel price of $4.00 / gal, I spent about $4,400 on fuel last year. If I had the gas Bounder, it would have cost me $9,000 in fuel and with the diesel Excursion it would have been $7,200. That’s a huge difference in cost of ownership. I’m not a full timer but I’m on the road about 6 months of the year and the 26 footer fits me just fine. Thanks for putting this together.
I think the gas vs diesel debate will go on till the end of time it all comes down to personal preference, and budget. I lucked out in my opinion I found a great used class c with a diesel that I love. Plenty of power for acceleration, plenty of torque for towing and going up a hill. Fuel economy has been very good about 13 mpg. Yes it can be a little noisy at times but while cruising especially on cruise control it’s fairly quiet.
13 MPG on a class C? Wow, that’s great. Thanks for sharing.
13mpg on a Class C?
Like J Dawg, we bought a diesel 26ft Winnebago View Profile 24G in April and with 5400 miles so far, we’re averaging about 16.5mpg, with one tank at 17mpg, which was on fairly level terrain and slightly slower speed (60mph vs 65mph).
Re DEF, we’re getting about 1300 miles per gallon, at $7 per gallon.
Really pleased so far.
BTW, just missed you and Technomadia in Michigan. Loved the Wolverine State. Just discovered RVillage, so maybe better luck hooking up next time.
There is NO “perfect” RV so, this debate will go on forever. You really need to do your own homework and decide what limitations you’re willing to accept. I’ve driven both gas & diesel powered Class A motorhomes and, after MUCH searching, finally decided on a Dynamax DX3. It’s a “FRED” (FRont End Diesel) so, it is a little louder than a standard diesel pusher but, the hood swings forward which will make any required service much more affordable. The DX# is built on a Freightliner Class 7 Heavy Duty Truck chassis. It has a true towing capacity of 20,000 pounds (many pushers claim a high tow rating but, the tongue weight limit set my the builder, won’t allow you tow tow the weight claimed). Again, do your homework before committing to such a large purchase! And a BIG THANK YOU to Jason & Nikki Wynn for their excellent videos!
You are right on John! Finding the perfect (or as close as you are going to get) rig is such a unique and personal quest…which is part of the reason there are so many different RV sizes, shapes and manufactures out there. What works for one will be different for another. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Diesel…my volvo truck goes 34,000 between oil changes. ..newer ones go 50,000
34k between oil changes!?!? That would be awesome. Must be better oil or more oil…or something?
I can’t speak for tractors and how they fare with oil change intervals, but you can get an oil analysis and “tune in” your intervals on your rig (or car, boat…any engine). It’s always best to follow OEM recommendations for oil changes, but you would be surprised that some engine and oil combinations can go longer (and unfortunately sometimes shorter) between oil change intervals. Check out bobistheoilguy.com if you’re interested on reading up on the topic.
Nice comparison! I’m a full timer currently in a 40’DP. I’ve been an RVer since 1993 and this is our fourth MH, but first DP. Our DP is our first FT MH.
Once thing you’ve overlooked in drivability in windy conditions. Our gassers were difficult to control in many windy conditions, even with upgraded shocks and sway bars. There were times were there was no way we could continue and stopped.
Our DP handles the seemingly always present winds as we travel with no problems, we’ve been amazed at how little effect wind has on it…other than reduced fuel mileage.
Why do we always hit a headwind??? ;c)
I will be ECSTATIC when we finally choose an RV and are able to hit the road. Actually, since we’ll have my husband’s truck in tow, we’re pretty much destined for diesel, but this article sure was helpful. I thought I had read everything there was to read about diesel! Wrong!
I also have to say you guys have been a huge asset as we try to figure out what we’ll need to stay connected. We own an online education company and will continue working along the way.
We’ve been planning for about a year now, and I’m so freakin’ excited!!
we gas a gas 31′ fleetwood terra. the generator in our rig is in the front.
we could have bought either gas or diesel. since we arent full timers and dont see us ever being full timers we went with gas. the price difference was just to much to ignore
Oh No, are you the obnoxious neighbors that run your generator all night long?!?!? Why?? In my equivalent of 8 years of full time RVing, I have never found it necessary or desirable to run the generator all night, and I am sure that unless you are miles away from your nearest fellow camper, they will agree. And unless you are parked in the city, what noise are you trying to drown out, the peaceful quiet of the outdoors?
Really? What gave you the idea that we run our generator all night? We have have an entire section of our site dedicated to Wild Camping with Solar, composting toilet and how to find boondocking sites (so no we don’t run our generator).
Jonathon Barton (@jonathonbarton)
I’m going to go with 1:06, where Jason says, “…and in the back, is the generator. So if you plan on Boondocking a lot, that generator’s gonna be right underneath your bed. It might lull you to sleep, but…it could be annoying. *shrug* “, and again in the text where it says, “…the generator is mounted closer to the bedroom, which means sleeping and running the generator at the same time might be a problem if you’re a light sleeper, for us a generator hum can actually be soothing as it drowns out other noises.”
New visitors may not have explored the site thoroughly to fully understand how truly green, solar, and sustainably-oriented you and Jason are – in which case, yeah, I can see how a new visitor might come to an incorrect conclusion based on only the data presented in this one article. =)
Thanks for clarifying that, it did not sound like you guys at all. The way the article was written it sounded like you were making that statement.
no worries. keep in mind when we write articles like this we are just covering all the aspects we can think of. so, while we have solar and don’t run our generator often if at all. others do and want to know the scoop.
Jonathon Barton (@jonathonbarton)
With articles like this on the site…
I suspect that Jason and Nikki are heavily invested in not being”that guy”… =)
Hi. This is a very helpful discussion. Thank you very much.
I’m considering buying a B+ or a small C on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis, but I’m worried about emergency servicing in remote areas like Alaska, parts of Canada, etc. Some people say that, at least with a Ford gasser, you can always find a mechanic. Any thoughts on that?
We have had both. Love our diesel
Two words….TEST DRIVE!!! We were dead set on purchasing a Tiffin Allegro Open Road 31SA (Gasser). This is a high quality coach with a great floor plan. We had read many similar reviews (diesel vs. gas) and figured we could deal with the noise of the engine and the higher RPM’s. It was worth the savings…until we drove it. The noise of the engine just going over a freeway overpass was very loud. Steering/tracking of the RV on the freeway was difficult, we felt like we were fighting it the whole time. Breaking was also very different and took more effort than it should. We were disappointed after our test drive and the next weekend we went to another dealer to drive an Excursion.
The air ride suspension is a dream. I found myself driving with one hand within a couple of minutes…it handles so well. My favorite feature of all is the engine break.
The handling/safety of the coach was our most important selling point. We felt safest in the Excursion.
We are fortunate that the Excursion was within our budget. The extra peace of mind is worth the additional investment (about 30K).
Thanks Jason and Nikki for giving this advice in a previous post!
We think you’re right on Amy. Having spent many years driving MCI tour buses out of New York City, I’m a bit of a “diesel & air bag snob” myself. But that bias aside, diesel rigs have some major chassis advantages, as well they should for the extra money. A good engine brake alone is worth its weight in gold out West (or at least worth the price of many pairs of ruined underpants). lol
A couple of things that aren’t always mentioned in the price department… the MSRP is nowhere near the price you’ll pay. We bought both our diesel pushers brand new, and paid between 25% and 28% below list. That includes our current rig, which we custom-ordered to spec from the factory, and still got that large a discount.
Then of course there’s the mortgage, which puts a more expensive rig within reach of more people. That did the trick for us! 😉
Thanks for your balanced look at the differences. We have had some tell us diesel is the way to go. But for us it came down to our budget and what we could get in way of financing. We had looked at used Class As, but in the end we found a new Georgetown 32 gasser that had the size and layout we wanted, was well decorated, had good options installed, and fit our budget. We were able to secure reasonable financing too. To get a comparable DP for the money we would have had to buy very used, and would not have gotten so good rates on finance.
The unit (Serenity) drives well, but yeah, crawls up big hills, and mpg is 6 to 7. Since we are full timing, we are not in a hurry and we are not going that far daily anyway. We have had Serenity since November, and full time since April 1. I think we are close to needing our second oil change, and will probably do one more this year by the time we reach AZ for deep winter. Overall we are very happy with the Georgetown, its ride, storage, appearance, etc. We may be adding Firestone Ride-Rite supplemental air bag system, and definitely a big PV system (thanks for the encouragement via your experience with solar). Looking into the aftermarket power boost items for the V10. If they can do what they say, it would be worth the investment.
Thanks for all of your information videos. If we cross paths, lets compare brewpub recommendations.
Hey Jason & Nikki,
To this point, all the talk has been about cost. Not that cost is not important, god knows it is, looking at my bank account, but there is more to consider between the two; gas and diesel.
You know how a certain song or fragrance reminds you of an old girlfriend? (or not) ha ha. Well, the smell and grimy feel of diesel reminds me of a couple things in my past.
As a Vietnam vet, the “fragrance” of diesel reminds me of hot sticky smelly dusty trucks and helicopters. Also, the smell of diesel exhaust from bulldozers and scrapers from my many years in the construction industry reminds me of “WORK”!
Now that I’m retired,not working and certainly not in the Army anymore, I don’t need the smell of a diesel engine to distract me while I’m on the road traveling.
I just purchased a gas Ford 250 and an 11′ camper, and plan to be out and about in a couple months, as soon as my house sells. It’s got a V-10 and I’ve just beefed up the springs and shocks. The ride is smooth, quiet and no smell of diesel! With 362 hp, pulling a combined 10,000 pounds, I can live life in either the slow or fast lane!
With all the information that you’ve provided, along with all your followers experiences, I suspect that it’s still a coin toss as to which is better. The more important decision is whether to go traveling or not. For me, the choice is clear!
You’re right, the choice is clear…get on the road 🙂
Debate? There’s no debate that diesel cost more, but there’s no debate that diesel is better performing and lasts longer. All you have to do is look at what the nicest and most costly of trucks and larger motor homes use.
Great comparison Jason, thanks as always you give us something to think about.
Personally I have always liked the strength of the Diesel engine and the extra umph when climbing.
I also like the storage on the Diesels better, the pass through storage is nice.
If you’re a car truck guy who likes to tinker and work on things the gas maybe a little easier for you to perform general and routine maintenance and save a few bucks, but the reality is when any shop see a coach roll in the service manager just sees dollar signs.
One thing that i did not see
mentioned was the difference in the flamibility of gas vs diesel.
It is my opinion that diesel is safer.
Good point Kenny, thanks for sharing.
Sam & Deb Burgess
Well, thanks guys! That sounds just like the discussion that Deb and I have had with relatives over the years. There are pro’s and con’s of each. If the upfront money is an issue, go with gas for sure. Otherwise?
This is about as good of a comparison as we have seen. I loved our Monaco Diesel but twice we had to have major repairs out on the road and both times we had to find an eighteen wheeler mechanic shop and wow was the cost painful.
We are still debating which to get this go around but this article and video makes it a little easier.
Thanks bunches and see ya on the road soon!
Sounds great, let us know what you end up with.
In the last few days I started to consider a gas over, primarily because of the price. The presentation was very timely and helpful. I do like the Winnebago Adventurer 37f
Samuel J. Martin III
I’d love to see/hear the video of the Fleetwood engineers conversation!
I’m considering buying (my 1st) RV & full timing it & have only looked at Gas for price considerations (to get more in amenities for the price); considering Winnebago Vista 27N, JayCo Precept 31UL, or the Thor A.C.E. 30.1. The Fleetwood brand didn’t seem to compare in quality (construction finishes & options) for the same price range. I’m sure at the higher price points of your RV’s you get all the amenities I want at a lower price; & thus a Gas RV is the only option for me.
There is a large difference in build quality between the Fleetwood and the RVs you’ve listed here. You are correct the Fleetwood can’t compare with the pricing, but there are a lot of upgrades you cannot see such as the insulation, the thickness of the walls, the list goes on. But what I can tell you is: if you can get into an RV now go for it, you can always change your mind further down the road.
Jonathon Barton (@jonathonbarton)
I think the real comparison would be New vs. New(Used) vs. Used.
For example, NADA says:
2014 New Bounder 33C is $139,000.
2014 Used Bounder 33C is $117,750. If you can find one, saving $21k is nothing to sneeze at!
2013 New Bounder 33C is $137,000 – not a lot different than a 2014. Might as well pony up the 2 grand, really.
2013 Used Bounder 33C is $109,350. Again, saving $29,650 is probably a serious consideration for most people.
But this is a discussion about Gas vs. Diesel…
2014 New Bounder 33C is $139,000
2013 New Bounder 33C is $137,000
2013 Used Fleetwood Excursion 33A? There are two on RV Trader, and the average price is $130,000.
Jonathon Barton (@jonathonbarton)
(wow, that’s what I get for writing that at 3am, then blindly hitting POST just now. That’s SUPER INCOMPLETE…I’ll finish my thoughts here after breakfast…)
HAHA, you’ve got a lotta great topics but no point 🙂 Can’t wait to hear the sum-up after your coffee!
Jonathon Barton (@jonathonbarton)
OK. Breakfast had, time to complete the thought.
There’s no comparison. Diesels are cheaper to operate, per mile.
For our test case, we’ll presume that you and your friends are travelling together and just came out of the Rockies and have stopped at the TA Travel Center in Golden, Colorado in July 2014. You’re headed for St. Louis, just over 900 miles away.
Diesel for the Excursion costs $3.77 per gallon, while Regular for the Bounder costs $3.59. The Excursion also needs Diesel Exhaust Fluid (a.k.a. DEF or urea), so you top up the DEF using the DEF pump located next to the Diesel Fuel island¹.
You get back on the road, headed east across the Great Plains. The Bounder cruises along at 8 MPG, while the Excursion makes 10 MPG.
Bounder: $3.59/gallon divided by 8 MPG = 44.875 cents per mile.
Excursion: $3.77/gallon divided by 10 MPG + $2.79/gallon divided by 250 MPG = 37.7 cents per mile + 1.116 cent per mile = 38.816 cents per mile.
The Bounder needs to refuel at the TA Travel Center in Oak Grove, MO, just east of KCMO, while the Excursion can drive (almost) all the way to St. Louis without refueling.
Suddenly, the common discussion point of “sure, it gets better mileage, but the savings are mostly eaten up by higher fuel prices and DEF” gets smashed flat by a Mythbuster-style piece of sheet steel that says “BUSTED”. The Excursion is cheaper to operate over the road by 6 cents per mile. That’s actually a pretty significant 13.5 percent reduction in your fuel budget².
So, Diesel’s the clear winner, right?
Much like the Prius vs. Corolla debate, the more efficent vehicle *costs more*, and you have to make up the price difference in fuel cost savings before the more efficient vehicle becomes the better financial choice.
In this case, there are 27 New 2014 Excursion 33D’s on RVTrader with an average price of $162,192, and there are 30 New 2014 Bounder 33C’s on RVTrader with an average price of $118,789,
The price difference $43,709.
$43,709 divided by 6.059 cents savings per mile means the financial ‘break even’ point for the fuel economy of the Excursion over the Bounder is 721,389 miles.
I don’t know if I have 721,389 miles left on *my* chassis, much less an RV’s chassis.
The solution (and the bulk of the incomplete thought I had last night?)
Buy a Diesel RV in the $110-140k range to reduce the price differential, and thus, the break even point on mileage. RVs that fit this price/feature curve include RVs like the…
—Break even in 100k-300k miles—
2013 Fleetwood Excursion 33D
2013 Allegro Breeze 32BR
2013 Forest River Legacy SR300 340KP
2013 Thor Palazzo 33.1, 33.2, or 33.3
2012 Holiday Rambler Trip
—Break even in 50-100k miles —
2013 Fleetwood Excursion 33A w/6k miles
2011 Thor/Four Winds Serrano 31
2012 Allegro Breeze 32BR
2011 Monaco Vesta 32PBS
—Break even in 0-50k miles—
2011 Monaco Vesta
2011 Allegro Breeze
2011 Thor Serrano
2007 Fleetwood Expedition 34H
So there you have it! The clear winners!
Mile for mile, Diesel is the clear winner!
Dollar for Dollar, Gas is the clear winner!
¹ TA, Love’s and Flying J were all installing At-The-Pump DEF pumps duing 2013. If you’re off the superslab, Amazon Prime will ship you a 2.5 gallon container for $11. DEF is consumed at a 2-6% rate compared to gas, so I’m using 4%, and that equates to 250 DEF MPG.
² 13.5% is like the price of the gas dropping by 54 cents/gallon!
Thanks for the 411, very complete and an exciting read…you should have a blog 🙂 But wait, lets throw 5 oil changes in the mix. The Bounder will have to stop 3 to 1 compared to the Excursion. Sure there’s a price difference but what about the value of time? On a cross country trip the Bounder will be in service more often…hmmmmmm.
Now I’ve confused myself 🙂
Enjoy your Sunday.
Jonathon Barton (@jonathonbarton)
I’m planning on doing a more complete breakdown on TCO between the two in time.
As for blogging? I’ve got several, the oldest of which has been around….oh, my…13 years now. =)
great comparison, thanks for removing the personal bias most others have left in. We have a 33′ Gas Bounder and have been very happy with it but, everything you pointed out is totally accurate. We added the airbags and they make a difference that’s reconfirmed every time I’ve dropped pressure down to 25 pounds. The air bags did not help sway at all, my next decision is shocks, steering stabilizer, better sway control (or go with a diesel when we are ready to begin full time travel).
Thanks for sharing Bernie, we love the Bounder 35k layout and have asked Fleetwood to cram it into a 32′ diesel RV…now we’re talkin 🙂
Hey Bernie – for what it’s worth I read a piece a few months back about reducing sway in a gasser by adding a 2nd pair of front shocks/springs. If memory serves me correctly the article said the project cost around $1500 and did the trick: little to no sway and a smoother ride overall. The RV owner did have to search for a qualified shop to do the work. I looked for the article so I could provide you the link but can’t find it but given your handling issues it might be worth doing a web search to learn more about this kind of mod.
I have a 2011 Fleetwood terry gas it is junk i bought new from La mesa Rv that was the first thing i did wrong i have even called fleetwood talked about how bad it really is they could care less the dash so squeaky you cant stand it i cant tell you how many times i have been to the shop the wife will not even ride in it i would love to have the money i have spent just in gas trying to get things fixed . I would say never buy a Fleetwood
Our Excursion has been great, even more reliable than our Monaco and way less issues than our first 2 RVs. Stinks you’ve had just a horrible time with it.
We bought used, very cheap. No warranties. Hubby has been fixing it up, re-engineering what he doesn’t like as he goes. Then we gut the living space to redo that. He prefers diesel because they go longer between maintanence which he insists on doing himself.
I so wish we could change our own oil and service the RV, but I’m sure I’d mess up something in the process! 🙂
We’d suggest that you not wish for that one, Jason. While we know that are people who do change their own oil in diesel pushers, we spent years reviewing the procedures and options for making it easier and in the end decided it wasn’t worth it for a couple of reasons (in our humble opinions). It’s not complicated, but the logistics are a pain.
Even if you install a Fomoto valve, or other device to allow easy emptying and flow control of the old oil, there is still such a lot of it that it won’t fit in a typical oil drain pan (our Cummins ISL holds about 7 gallons). Draining all that oil in such height-resticted quarters can be difficult without risking spilling it on the ground, which of course isn’t exactly environmentally-friendly.
The same is true for dealing with the fuel filters, which get changed along with the oil and oil filter. Diesel is an environmental nightmare that you don’t want to get on yourself, let alone spill.
The nail in the coffin for our discussion about doing oil changes ourselves came when we discovered Speedco. If you own a diesel pusher and haven’t been to Speedco, you should check it out.
Our most recent service included changing both fuel filters (2 & 10 micron), oil and filter change, oil analysis, chassis lube (about 24 zerks, many of which are hard to find and/or reach), coolant level & DCA check, differential fluid check and checking the air pressure in all tires. Our 90-minute, no-appointment-needed cost: $230.94.
Since we discovered them, we have never once discussed changing our own oil (and it used to be an annual analysis). We wrote about our experience in more detail here:
Since they only handle diesel engines, there’s a brownie point for our side in the diesel-or-gas benefits column! 😉
Your in-depth “do not do your own oil” is so long I lost interest in changing my own oil before I even finished reading your comment 🙂 HAHA. Thanks for the 411, and didn’t even realize Speedco did RVs…must check out for next service. Do they do Generators too?
Maybe your lack of attention explains some of those “How Not To” videos. 😛
If your deal with Fleetwood leaves you paying for your own oil changes, you should try Speedco. They rock. But they don’t do generators.
We tried to keep this short. lol
Tales From the Mutiny
The Mutiny (our rig) is a 2008 Winnebago Voyage 32 foot gas RV. When we started our search we wanted a diesel rig simply because that’s what everyone told us was “better”. Of course, this advice was coming from friends…none of which actually ever owned an RV. We looked at everything we could…and then found our what we could actually afford. Then we started looking at everything in our price range and THAT was an eye opener.
We stumbled across the Mutiny which was on consignment at a dealer. It has a great layout, many upgrades the previous owner bought, came with a tow package that would work on our Jeep, hoses, sewer lines…and it was a GREAT price.
We’ve put about 20,000 miles on it in just under 2 years. We’ve been over the Sierras and the Rocky Mountains, through Death Valley and across the Sonora desert. Sometimes it may be slow going but we’ve managed to get everywhere we’ve pointed our headlights.
Part of our decision to go with this RV was that we LIVE in it (like you guys) and the upgrades and floor plan were higher end and more comfortable than we would have gotten if we found a diesel in the same price range. I do wish it had air ride for leveling though. And one thing that bothers me is that most fuel stations only offer RV lanes for diesel rigs. Makes it a pain to try to fit in some stations, especially when towing as well.
But the best part is we get where we want to go. It may be at a slower pace if there are big mountains to cross but that just means we get to enjoy the scenery for longer. =)
Thanks for sharing guys, we are seriously thinking about a Gas unit for our next RV swap so your insight is perfect! And you have the perfect attitude “…may be slower…enjoy the scenery for longer” Too great!
Wayne and Roxane McClain
Jason and Nikki,
We purchased our 2007 Fleetwood Providence 39′ diesel pusher in January, 2013. We have been on the road for 3 months out west and for 8 months of last winter in the Southeast. We love the diesel. We are currently towing a 20′ car hauler with the 2008 Rav4 and my Harley with bicycles, air compressor and whatever else we need. I wanted the diesel mainly because of the air ride suspension and air brakes. From what I’ve learned, the fuel mileage is about the same for either gas or diesel. Although the oil and transmission changes are more expensive, with diesel I don’t have to do them as often so I think that averages out. I’ve been told that the the diesel will run about 1,000,000 miles whereas the gas will be good for 200,000 miles. I will probably never see that many miles but for resale value that makes the diesel a smarter buy for me.
Yep the RV people tell us a Gas can go 300,000 miles and a diesel can go 1,000,000 like you said…but the RV house will only go about 100,000! Oh well.
What about differences in tire sizes? It seems that many less expensive Ford chassis RVs come with 19.5 inch tires while virtually all diesels come with 21.5 inch. In your discussions with Fleetwood engineers were these differences ever mentioned in terms of ride quality, safety and cost?
So the number one thing the engineers mentioned is the safety upgrades by picking the Excursion with the Freightliner Chassis. I did not ask about tire size specifically but they were convinced the quality between the 2 RVs we selected are almost identical.
Regarding the gas RV chassis and your comments on poorer ride and handling – from my research it appears that there are a number of chassis modifications which can be done to the Ford chassis to improve that. For example – sway bars and better shocks can be added which can dramatically improve the ride. I also found that airbag systems can be installed if you want to replace rear leaf springs. However, on most diesel chassis these upgrades are not necessary so to do this on a gas chassis only reduces the price differential.
As for fuel economy – diesel fuel contains more energy per gallon so hence the higher price but also part of the reason for achieving higher mileage in a diesel.
Thanks for doing this comparison. It was interesting to learn that overall build qualities are the same across both types of chassis. Still very interested in reading an assessment from you on the Fleetwood Excursion versus other models you have seen and lived in. I realize that you are treading on very sensitive ground here as you certainly do not want to “bite the hand that feeds you” so to speak but I must say in my research that the Excursion is at the top of my list for a future buy as I appreciate its features, quality and overall size (not too large) when comparing this model to many others. So Fleetwood has already achieved a lot from their deal with you because it has caused me to seriously consider their products.
I want to be 100% clear: Fleetwood knows we speak our minds and they are very aware that if we don’t like something we’re not going to hide it. I’m excited to do the “Best and Worst” comparison and we’ve alerted Fleetwood this topic would likely be the winner in our Crowdsourced Content, they are excited to hear our opinions so they can make a better coach for the 2016+ models.
See the comment from Bernie above about the air bags, and the engineers said they are using heavy duty anti-sway bars, and a lot of though went into customizing the Ford Chassis for overall ride quality and comfort for the Bounder. I would not plan on changing anything if you purchase a newer model.
Also they noted that driving the RV at the dealership is not a fair assessment of the ride quality, according to the engineers there needs to be weight to get a true test drive.
Hope this helps.
You guys rock! <3 the video and info thanks for sharing!!
We’ve had both over the years – at least with our tow vehicles when pulling a trailer. We had a 2006 Jeep Liberty, one in the 6-cyc gas model and one in the 4-cyc diesel model (rare). We definitely had much better fuel economy, torque and power in the diesel – even as diesel prices shot up above gas.
One advantage of the better fuel economy is not just a possible savings in fuel & time at the pump, but a longer range between fuel stations.
When we decided to switch from trailer to motorhome – we were steered towards bus conversions. Which pretty much narrowed us in on diesel. And since we went vintage, 2-stroke instead of the modern 4. So sometimes, the choice is restricted by the model of motorhome you find yourself called towards.
We’ve also found that the lowest end diesel models, tend to be on par with the highest end gas models. In other words, if you’re looking for a more quality build, that tends to go along with diesel. With more power, there’s more weight capacity to work with higher end construction materials too.
Another thing we didn’t realize is a loaded down Bounder is not going to be able to tow a very heavy car…which in our (and your) case isn’t that big of a deal. 🙂
Hi Jason and Nikki,
We have a 42 ft. diesel 425 hp Cummins. My experience has been that a diesel will slow on hills where the gasser might actually go faster.
We weigh 40,029 lbs. and go slow up steep inclines. Many gassers will pass us. It’s all about weight to hp/torque ratio. We have 1,200 lb. ft. of torque whereas the Ford, I think has 362 hp and 800 lb. ft. of torque (?).
Anyway, the airbag chassis is worth the difference to us.
Thanks for sharing Mr. Mark.
My 89 Airstream motorhome is a gasser. Finding out that a Cummins was available, but just finding an Airstream motorhome is an adventure, must less an Airstream diesel motorhome.
Considered making the switch to diesel, but just can’t justify the expense of the swap, as well as the difference in fuel costs. I WILL be making the change from 4 barrel carburetor to Throttle Body fuel injection. Know from another Airstream owners experience, the change to TBI results in as much as 20% fuel mpg increase as well as better performance in the mountains.
I could go with something newer, but have ‘lusted’ after Airstream my entire life. Plus, on one of my 1st camping trips with Airstream, a neighbor in the campground with a 6 month old diesel pusher, was on his SECOND engine! Figure my 25 yr old motorhome has all of the ‘bugs’ worked out at this point……
Yep, Derek I’d say it’s a safe bet that the bugs have been worked out of your rig.
$$$$$$$….it’s all about what you can afford. We are pleased with being able to spend time traveling in our motorhome. We found a great floorplan with plenty of storage and are enjoying travel.
We are at Bramley State Park just east of you and going hiking at the falls trail today. We did the sunset cruise on Friday for Picture Rocks and found it to be well worth the investment.
Thanks Don. We’re heading out on a hike now.
I really wanted a diesel, but we ended up with a gasser because of the floorplan.
The other problem was we were buying used. Just looking at prices of fuel pumps, radiators, and suspension repairs put the diesels out of our price range. The idea if spending 5k to fix things like a radiator put a damper on our diesel dreams.
We love staying for 2-4 weeks at a time so gas works fine for us.
Of course every other month I am finding that I need an oil change now…..
Yea, those dang oil changes always put a damper on the driving 🙂
I have a gasser, but have been on a trip in a diesel with a friend. The gasser sways and pitches a lot more. I hate crawling up mountains in first gear (with a gasser) and the engine screaming at me. That happened on our way to Jasper in Canada. I was really nervous driving down the long windy highway into death valley knowing that if the hydraulics or brake cynlinder failed I’d be over the cliff in my gasser. My rig only gets 5.5-7.5 mpg. When I do the Math it seems that as long as you don’t pay more than .40 cents/gallon for diesel your return on fuel economy pays for itself. In general I’m seriously leaning towards a diesel next time. Now if I can only convince my bank account to agree with the higher cost of purchase and ownership. Hmmm…
If you figure out a way to convince your bank account to grow more money please let us know 🙂
Our experience (with any brand) is the diesel RVs have a raised chassis,and therefore allow for much more storage in the “basement”. Full-timers need to consider how much stuff they must take with them, and where they will put it all!
Diesel RVs typically also have more towing capacity. We carry a motorcycle on a hydraulic lift and tow a Jeep – we could not do this using a gas RV. Hope this helps.
Yep Greg, you’ve got it on the towing capacity. We’ve always owned low clearance diesel RV’s so we still have not been able to reap the benefits of the giant storage bays typically found on larger class A diesel rigs.
Your link to your RV Laundry page at the bottom of the post goes to your Vacuum post. I like cleaning so I enjoyed that post instead.
ha ha, thanks for the heads up! I’ll fix that now. 🙂
I live in the west so I plan to spend a lot of time exploring all the mountain nooks and crannies, at least to begin with when I retire, so the air brake and big torque is a real nice plus for the diesel. That said and with everything else being equal, $60,000 is a lot of cheese to pay for those two features.
Big picture it seems to me that it comes down to how flush your bank account is in deciding whether to go gas or diesel. Of course depreciation is also a big consideration since I’ve read that RV’s lose around 1/2 their value in the first five years which is why I plan to buy a used gas rig when the day comes to hit the road.
Get a 6 year old diesel instead 🙂 Trust me if you’re full-timing and spending a lot of time in the mountains you’ll be happy you did. Good luck.
Hey Jason and Nikki,
You mention decreased depreciation rates on Pushers and I am hoping you can elaborate or point us in the direction of this info, please. Also, in much of the nation diesel fuel is more expensive than gas (at least it is here on the West Coast), which should also be a consideration when comparing actual ownership costs based on the owner’s projected annual mileage.
I recently found your site and absolutely adore your sense of style and artistic approach to content. You appear to be a fantastic team and perfect match in your talents. Thank you for all the wonderfully funny, entertaining and informative information.
Godspeed and good fortune,
Fleetwood told us their diesel engine RVs hold the value better because the engine can take more abuse. Not sure if there are any specific numbers out there other than comparing NADA values. Only issue with comparisons is there are not many RVs that are equipped exactly the same so it’s really difficult to say with any certainty. Keep us in the loop if you find a source.
Thank you so much for the response and info Jason. Next time you two are near Tahoe, you’ll have to take the time to spend a few days or more exploring our little corner of the world… and if you do, I’d love to buy you a beer (or three).