Diesel Motorhomes Are More Expensive
Because diesel motors are more expensive to purchase upfront, diesel motorhomes can cost significantly more than gas-powered motorhomes. However, while the maintenance can be more expensive when it has to be done, overall, diesel motors are known to last longer than gas-powered motors. The major advantage to diesel motor homes is that they have a higher fuel-to-power ratio, meaning you get more horsepower and torque while consuming less fuel. The other upside is that diesel motorhomes depreciate less quickly.
Gas Motorhomes Are More Affordable
Today, there are many large gas-powered motor homes, especially from Ford and General Motors, that offer excellent performance and are comparable in horsepower and torque to diesel-powered models. Of course, while the gas-powered motor homes are more affordable, you do pay a cost in more frequent maintenance and higher fuel costs. Gas-powered motorhomes also tend to depreciate more quickly, especially when it comes to mileage.
Diesel Motorhomes Have More Durable Engines, Transmissions, and Pac Brakes
Because the larger diesel motorhomes are built more like tractor trailer trucks, they tend to have much more powerful transmissions and have more powerful brakes than gas-powered motor homes of comparable size.
However, there are also diesel-powered motor homes that are much smaller using the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van chassis. They get the fuel efficiency of a diesel-powered van with all of the same conveniences as a smaller gas-powered motorhome. However, these also have more powerful transmissions than many of their gas-powered counterparts.
In either case, if you plan to drive a lot in the mountains, diesel motorhomes are going to handle the wear and tear much more effectively. Mountain driving is extremely hard on ordinary transmissions found in gas-powered motor homes. So, because diesel motors naturally have higher power-to-fuel ratios than gas, the more powerful transmission is necessary. The power that drives tractor trailer trucks is what gives diesel motorhomes an advantage in that way. Overall, diesel motorhomes tend to be more durable when it comes to the motor and transmissions.
Gas-Powered Motor Homes Offer Value for the Price
If you aren’t planning on a lot of mountain driving with your RV and don’t plan on making consistent cross-country trips, gas powered motor homes can be a good option. While gas-powered engines tend to require more frequent maintenance than diesel motors, tune-ups, oil changes, and other maintenance tend to be less expensive than on the more specialized diesel motors.
The auto parts are also less expensive for gas-powered vehicles, and if you spend a bit extra on higher-quality and high-performance parts, you can get a lot of value for your money. However, if you tend to go on frequent cross-country trips and use your motor home as your primary vehicle, the wear and tear from constant driving will take their toll on a gas-powered motor and transmission. While newer gas-powered models have more efficient motors that offer higher torque than their predecessors, gasoline will never offer the same power-to-fuel ratio as diesel fuel. So, the engine has to work harder and therefore, will not last as long.
It is possible that when your gas powered motor home surprasses 100,000 miles, your engine may need a major overhaul or transmission work may be needed. This is something important to keep in mind. If you have an aftermarket transmission or other non-stock components installed into your motor home, however, you can increase the life of your motorhome’s engine significantly.
Diesel Motorhomes Have Engines That Last Forever
The major reason that people are willing to shell out the big bucks for the bigger diesel-powered motor homes like those from Fleetwood, Monaco, Newmar, and Holiday Rambler, is simply that their motors tend to last forever. Even though the maintenance and oil changes can be significantly more expensive, the motor and transmission are so durable that they may outlive the motor home chassis itself!
The other major advantage of the larger diesel motor homes is that they typically run quieter, due to the engine compartment being in the back, like in buses. Even the smaller diesel-powered motor homes that have the engine in the front use six-cylinder or eight-cylinder turbo diesel motors than run much quieter than the comparable V8 or V10 gas-powered motors.
Also, diesel motorhomes can carry more cargo and have heavier internal amenities than on gas-powered motor homes. That’s because they have higher towing capacity, as those motors are designed for hauling lots of weight. You can have heavy materials like china toilets and Corian countertops in your diesel motor home without thinking much about how it will affect your vehicle’s gross weight.
So is Gas-Powered or Diesel-Powered Better for a Motorhome?
The good news is that with the continuous advances in engine technology, gas-powered motor homes are becoming more efficient and powerful every year. Of course, diesel technology is also improving all of the time, with some of the more modest-sized diesel motorhomes getting similar gas mileage to a full-size pickup or SUV!
However, there are advantages to both. It all depends on how you plan to use your motorhome. If you have a secondary vehicle in which you will do most of your around town driving and really only drive your motorhome from destination to destination, gas powered motor homes should serve you well. But if you basically live on the road, there are major long-term advantages to owning a diesel motor home, especially in terms of motor and transmission durability and gas mileage.
As long as you are aware of the various costs involved with maintaining gas and diesel powered motor homes, you can do well with either a gas-powered or diesel-powered motorhome. As with anything, it all comes down to personal preference and what vehicle you feel fits your needs best. The largest motorhomes are going to be diesel-powered and mid-size motorhomes are fine when gas-powered. It all comes down to which motor home that you feel most at home in.
Whether you decide on a gasoline or diesel motor to power your motor home, just do your research and find the best value for the price. Motorhomes give you so much flexibility when it comes to your holiday adventures and either type of motor can make full-time RV living possible. Both offer relatively the same interior comforts. So, if you want to save some money upfront, a gas motorhome is a great choice. If you’re looking to own your motor home for the rest of your life, a diesel motorhome could be the right choice
Which will you choose for your motorhome: gas-powered or diesel-powered?