Fuel

The recent surge in fuel prices has some people near panic. Yet, when adjusted for inflation, the price of motor fuels in the U.S. is still quite within historic ranges. This does not mean that fuel efficiency is of no concern. RV’s are big and heavy and this means they burn a lot of fuel getting from here to there. Less money on fuel means more for something else.

Tara Baukus Mello describes Top 10 Tips for Improving Your Fuel Economy at Edmunds.com. Many are good advice for the RV enthusiast but most are for the typical around town and commute driver.

After making sure your rig is properly maintained and in optimum mechanical condition, it is eggshell driving that conserves fuel. This means driving like you have eggs taped between your feet and the pedals – No hard braking and no hard acceleration. Eggshell driving is one reason why experienced drivers can often get better gas milage without using cruise control. If foot feel isn’t enough and you like a gauge, then install a vacuum gauge for gas engines or an exhaust temperature gauge for a diesel engine. Lower readings on these gauges means better fuel economy.

Speed is also an issue although not as big an issue as some think. Generally slower speeds will be more fuel efficient. But gearing, tires, and motor tend to complicate things. Dropping from 65 to 55 might save a couple of percent on fuel but then again it might not.

Weight is another bogyman in fuel efficiency. Unless you are doing a lot of starts and stops and choosing routes that are almost all grades, what you can do with saving weight won’t make much difference in fuel use. A modest trailer rig weighs five to ten tons and all you can reasonably change is maybe a half ton so the ratio of weight change is small. And air resistance is more important than rolling resistance in fuel efficiency when heading on down the road.

Perhaps one of the most significant things you can do to improve fuel efficiency in in your choice of rig. There have been significant improvements in engine and transmission efficiencies in the last few years. Diesel may be a consideration as well. But the $40k to replace a paid for older truck worth maybe $5k means $35k for fuel and some increased maintenance. That could translate into 120k miles of fuel in the price difference. So consider your trade-offs carefully.

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