You may be new to the RV lifestyle, or it’s possible that you just purchased a brand new RV. Either way, if you are reading this article you likely want to know how far your rig can go on a tank of gas.
Well, as common sense may have led you to believe, this varies by your RV size and model. Generally, the larger the RV the bigger the gas tank. And, you guessed it, the bigger the tank the further it can travel.
We will cover some general ideas and tips that should give you a ballpark number for how many miles your RV can travel on a full tank of gas. But, as always for specifics, you should refer to your owner’s manual.
Averages for how far an RV can go on a tank of gas vary by model and class. Here are the averages for how far an RV can go on a tank of gas.
Class a RV’s have an average tank capacity of 100 gallons and average miles per gallon of 7, this means the average miles a class a can go on a tank of gas is 700 miles. Class b RV’s have an average tank capacity of 25 gallons and average miles per gallon of 16, this means the average miles a class a can go on a tank of gas is 400 miles. Class c RV’s have an average tank capacity of 60 gallons and average miles per gallon of 11, this means the average miles a class a can go on a tank of gas is 660 miles.
We will break it all down for you along with examples, so be sure to take a look and see how everything works.
Gas Tank Capacity and Mileage
When it comes to RV’s the reported average size of the gas tank is 25 gallons to 150 gallons. That is quite a range. The size of your RVs gas tank will determine how far you can go. Additionally, how many miles per gallon your rig is rated for will also play a role.
Fuel Tank Sizes
- Class A Motorhomes
Class A’s are the biggest of all the motorhomes. They can provide owners with the most amenities and the largest interior space. They are much larger than your daily vehicle, ranging in length from 29 feet to 45 feet.
A bigger size means more room inside for dining, lounging, entertaining, and sleeping. Most Class A motorhomes can accommodate multiple people thanks to more than one sleeping area. A bigger chassis and exterior also mean a bigger gas tank.
Typically, a Class A motorhome will be equipped with a tank that can hold 80-150 gallons of fuel. However, the actual number depends on the model, manufacturer, and age in addition to the size. But it is safe to say that these huge luxury RVs have the biggest tanks out of all of the classes.
- Class B Motorhomes
Class B motorhomes are the smallest in size and therefore the most inexpensive. As they resemble an oversized van, their gas tanks can be similar to standard vehicle tanks. But there are two categories, Class B and Class B+. Class B motorhomes are commonly anywhere from 18 to 24 feet in length, while B+ is slightly larger.
Because of their small size, they are certainly more affordable than Class A motorhomes, but they are also much smaller. Class B’s can lack the storage and living space one would usually associate with a motorhome. Class B+ motorhomes are generally more popular due to the slight upgrade in amenities and interior space. Nevertheless, Class B & B+ are colloquially referred to as “camper vans”.
The average size fuel tank for a Class B motorhome is around 25 gallons. This can be the same size as some Ford F-150 pickup trucks. Again, the model, make, and year will determine your motorhome’s actual fuel tank size.
- Class C Motorhomes
Class C Motorhomes, somewhat counterintuitively, is in between classes A and B. They usually come in at 30 to 33 feet long and are just the right size for most RV enthusiasts.
When you think of Class C, think of campervans on a larger scale. Extra sleeping space is found in the cabin over the driving area. Another sleeping area can be found in the back and some can include a pull-out couch. The kitchen and bathroom won’t be expansive by any means but they will be larger than a Class B motorhome.
Because Class C motorhomes are a sort of cross over between a campervan and a big Class A motorhome, they have a fuel tank that is proportionate to their “middle ground” size. The fuel tank will likely have a capacity of anywhere between 40 and 80 gallons.
To recap fuel tank capacity:
- Class A: 80 – 150 gallons
- Class B: 25 gallons
- Class C: 40 – 80 gallons
These are just average tank sizes though. The manufacturer, model, and year will all play a role in your actual fuel tank capacity.
Various factors play a role in how many miles to the gallon your motorhome gets. This is just another way to say, how many miles can your motorhome travel on one gallon of gas. By knowing this number you can approximate how far you can travel on a full tank of gas.
If you perform a search of miles per gallon and RVs you will find that manufacturers list anywhere from 10 to 25 miles per gallon. However, as with all numbers on the brochure, this is not one-hundred percent accurate. Here are a few things that can affect how many miles per gallon you can get.
- The Weight of Your Motorhome
Gross vehicle weight (GVW) can affect your gas mileage. Gross vehicle weight is the total weight of your rig. It takes into account the base weight of your motorhome, all the gear you put inside, how full your fuel tank is, and how full your other tanks are, like sewage and water.
Many times, your motorhome will have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This number can typically be found on a sticker located on your motorhome. This is the maximum gross vehicle weight your rig can withstand. But it is easy to go over this, and the heavier your motorhome the more fuel it will use, reducing your mileage.
If you want an accurate number, you may want to weigh your motorhome. Perhaps the simplest way is to take it to a public scale. Weigh stations are government-owned and operated but can usually be accessed by the public. You will often see weigh stations located off the exit ramps of highways as they are primarily used by semi-trucks.
However, you could also use a private scale. Some businesses may have these available for public use and will only charge you a small fee. You can check with scrap yards, granaries, and quarries because they frequently have scales on-site and may allow you to weigh your rig if you contact them and ask.
Once you have found a scale, all you need to do is drive onto the scale and weigh your rig.
It is probably a good idea to weigh your trailer fully loaded with all your gear, water, and fuel in order to get an accurate number of how much weight you are hauling around. Not only will you be able to better determine mileage but, if the number is greater than the GVWR listed on your sticker than you will need to remove some weight until you bring it down to an appropriate level.
If you have a difficult time finding a scale, there are some excellent calculators online that can help you estimate your gross vehicle weight. The heavier your motorhome, the less fuel-efficient.
- Fuel Saving Features
Some people may choose to put a fuel economy chip in their motorhome. Also known as performance chips, these devices reportedly help you optimize your motorhome’s performance and save gas. They do this by supposedly optimizing your torque.
However, it is widely debated if these chips actually do anything they claim to do with most owners seeing less than stellar results. Additionally, if you are modifying your engine it voids any manufacturer warranties so there is some risk.
- Diesel vs. Gas
Another widely debated mileage topic is diesel or gas. Well, diesel usually does come out on top of fuel efficiency. And this is made clear by the fact that many of the largest motorhomes, or Class A’s, use diesel engines.
On a scientific note, diesel fuel chemically has a little more than 10% additional energy than plain old gasoline. And that translates to going further per tank of fuel. Actually, about 25 to 30 percent further.
However, diesel is more expensive. So, while you may not be filling up as often, each time you do it will cost you more than if you were getting a tank of gasoline.
All of these factors affect your miles per gallon. If you already own an RV it will take some research and investigation, as well as some trial and error, to figure out how far you can really go on a tank of gas. If you are looking to purchase an RV you can certainly ask the dealer if they have a mileage estimate.
Miles Per Gallon Estimates
Class A motorhomes, the largest, generally get about 6-8 miles per gallon. After all, they are gas guzzlers with the weighty luxurious amenities, hefty mechanical parts, and weighty shells. If you are traveling up and down hilly terrain that number can be even lower, sometimes around 4 miles per gallon.
Class C motorhomes do a little bit better. They can usually get about 10 to 12 miles per gallon. They are not as heavy as class A motorhomes but still have a bit of weight to them.
Class B rigs perform the best in terms of gas mileage. They receive about 15 to 18 miles to the gallon. They are smaller and have fewer amenities but make up for it in lower fuel costs and a smaller price tag.
To recap miles per gallon:
- Class A: 6-8 mpg
- Class B: 15-18 mpg
- Class C: 10-12 mpg
So let’s look at a few examples.
If you are driving a Class A motorhome, you can expect, say, 7 miles per gallon of fuel. If you have a full tank, you may have about 100 gallons. Therefore, you can go 7 miles per each gallon of your 100 available gallons, or about 700 miles.
In Class C, you get approximately 11 miles per gallon. If you have a 55-gallon tank, you can go about 605 miles on a full tank.
And driving a Class B motorhome with a 16 mile per gallon average, if you have a full tank of 25 gallons you can go approximately 400 miles.
It is obvious that the smaller the motorhome the smaller the tank. The smaller the tank the fewer miles you can go, but with better average miles per gallon.
This will be made more clear when it comes time to fill up. Knowing the cost of your destination is huge when it comes to traveling in your motorhome. You will want to know how much it will cost you in fuel to reach your location as the cost of gas will be a large factor in your travel budget.
If gas is $3.00 a gallon, you can expect the below total costs to fill up your tank using the above scenarios.
- Class A (100-gallon tank with 7 mpg): $300
- Class C (55-gallon tank with 11 mpg): $165
- Class B (25-gallon tank with 16 mpg): $75
So in your Class A, you can go about 700 miles on a full tank of gas but each time you need to fill up you will be spending about $300. If that seems like a crazy amount of money you may choose to pick more feasible travel destinations that are closer to home. Still, 700 is quite a long distance. To put it in perspective Detroit, Michigan is about 722 miles from Atlanta Georgia.
Calculating Your Costs
As mentioned, there are many helpful calculators that can help you determine everything from the cost of gas to how much your motorhome weighs. It is a good idea to check out a handful of these and try to estimate your mileage and costs as much as possible before your trip.
- Your trip will take you to a destination 1500 miles away.
- Your Class C motorhome gets 11 miles per gallon and has a 55-gallon tank.
- The cost of gas is $3.00 per gallon
- First, divide 11 into 1500 to get 136.36
- Then multiply that number by the price of gas, in this case, $3.00
- The resulting number is the cost of your trip, approximately $409
But the numbers provided by online calculators are only speculative. The only real way to get a good handle on how far your motorhome can travel on a full tank of fuel (and how much it will cost you) is by taking notes and measurements on trips.
The more you travel with your RV the better knowledge you will have of your rigs average miles per gallon. Gas prices fluctuate all the time, but you will also have a better understanding of how much traveling to a certain destination will cost.
Tips for Saving on Gas
Here are a few tips for saving on the cost of fuel.
The smaller the better. If you plan to travel often, and fuel prices are more of a concern than luxury amenities, you may want to consider a smaller RV such as a class B. These will be cheaper to fill up and have better miles per gallon.
Research Fuel Economy. Still, in all size categories, some RVs can outperform others in terms of fuel economy. For example, in the Class A category a Thor Palazzo purportedly gets 12.9 miles per gallon in ideal driving conditions, which is pretty good for a Class A. And for the Class B category, the Winnebago Travato 59G gets 20 miles per gallon. Finding out which RV is the most fuel-efficient in your desired class can help out your pocketbook.
Engine Maintenance. Taking care of your engine and making sure it is in good working order will help you save on fuel costs. Making sure everything is running at optimum efficiency will help save you gas. This can include checking things like tire pressure too.
Use Gas Price Apps. Using tools and apps that show gas prices in your area can help you find the cheapest spot to fill up.
Lower Your Weight. As discussed the lower the weight of your motorhome the less fuel it should consume to travel around. This means not taking every piece of gear you possibly can in order to keep your weight down. Additionally, little tricks to reduce weight can add up in a big way. Such as not fully stocking your cupboards before you leave but waiting to go grocery shopping until you reach your destination.
Drive At Appropriate Speeds. Finally, as with an automobile, driving at economical speeds can save you fuel. Driving too fast will deplete your fuel. Usually, you can find your recommended maximum economical speed within your owner’s manual.
There are many factors that play a role in how far you can travel on a full tank of gas and for what price. RVing is by all means a luxury expense and cannot exactly be considered cheap. But there are ways that you can make it more affordable to travel and see the country in your motorhome. By employing some or all of the tips and tricks above you can hopefully save on fuel and get to where you are going cheaper!