Gas vs Diesel RV: The Difference You Should Know (Explained)

Gas vs Diesel RV

You might be at the beginning of the thought process to purchase an RV, however, you’re unsure whether a gas or diesel engine would be better. In reality, they both provided unique assistance depending on your circumstances and what you wish to seek.

Numerous factors differentiate an RV that uses gas or diesel. If your RV is diesel-powered; you can expect benefits such as stronger power, a higher efficiency rating, and the comfort of longevity. A gas-powered RV can bring you a quieter engine, higher payload capacity.

When cost isn’t a factor, it’s believed that a diesel-engine RV is worth more value in comparison to gasoline. However, given its sometimes hefty price tag – gas engines aren’t all that bad. Yes, a gas-powered RV might cost you less upfront- the maintenance might afford you more in the long run.

The average diesel RV is more expensive than a gasoline engine, even with the same specifications. We’ve listed below some of the reasons why you can expect this with diesel:

  • It saves the engine more MPG
  • Provides a stronger horsepower
  • Uses higher quality oils/materials
  • Less moving parts, which decreases the maintenance
  • Can endure the added weight

This by no means indicates that diesel engines are better than. Because if you’re after an RV that can provide more storage or isn’t loud and has a slower driver- then a gasoline engine is just as perfect.

Find below a list of reasons why someone might prefer an RV with a gasoline engine:

  • Has a much quieter sound
  • Provides a smoother and consistent ride
  • Costs less upfront
  • Doesn’t require an expensive maintenance regime
  • Is left with a higher payload capacity

If you’re unsure whether the difference between gas vs diesel RV is a significant factor to consider- you should begin asking yourself some questions. Affordability should be the first thing to think about – as both the upfront and ongoing costs for a diesel RV is expensive.

Continue thinking about what’s most important to you. Is horsepower and towing major factors when you’re looking for your dream RV or is the sound and cost of maintenance more important.

Figuring this out first can help you lead to a better investment decision and support you throughout this process. However, if you’d like to learn more about each factor of difference between a gas vs diesel RV- continue reading!


It should be no surprise to hear that diesel engines pack more energy than a vehicle that uses gas. In simplest terms, diesel engines are naturally able to inject fuel (through air compression) which builds the level of torque. This provides fast compression and combustion rates, which in return make diesel engines extremely more efficient.

The higher torque your engine produces, the faster and more powerful the acceleration will feel. So when comparing power from an RV that uses a gas or diesel-powered engine, diesel can produce a more vigorous and tough experience.

Payload Capacity

The payload capacity on a diesel RV is much lower in comparison to its gas-engine counterpart. Your RV’s payload capacity refers to the greatest amount of weight which can be included in storage, in addition to its empty weight (also known as curb weight.)

Because diesel-engines and all of its systems weigh much more than gas, gas engines tend to have a higher payload capacity. In return, this allows people to add more luggage to the trip without needing to sacrifice any weight which a diesel-engine might be taking up.

If you’re looking for an RV that provides a decent amount of payload capacity, and there are no other factors to consider, choosing a gas-powered RV would be extremely beneficial for you.

Towing Capacity

When it comes to towing capacity, fuel type does not prevent an RV from the ability to tow. A gas-powered engine can certainly pull a decent amount of weight, however, diesel engines are known to withstand slightly higher. Using a diesel RV also means you can not only pull more but tow for longer periods without the need to stop.

Although you won’t be faced with any problems by having a gas-powered RV and using it for towing; if you’re looking for overall efficiency – diesel is a better solution. When comparing better value for money, as well as the longevity of your investment, knowing the average amount which you’ll be towing while traveling can assist with your decision process.

As a golden rule, we recommend purchasing an RV with a diesel-engine as opposed to a gas-powered vehicle when the only factor is towing capacity. For those undecided, it’s a good idea to keep this rule in mind.


Depending on the size and shape of your RV, your chassis will vary accordingly. Diesel-powered engines are both larger and heavier, so it’s common for diesel RVs to have a stronger chassis to withstand the bearing weight.

Apart from those obvious factors, there are no other reasons why the chassis would differ – and fuel-type does not change the overall functionality of an RV either.

Side note: Diesel RV’s can have a larger chassis to accommodate a higher GVWR – as opposed to a gas-powered RV.

Air Brake

Air brakes do not differ regardless if your RV is gas-powered or diesel. They function the same regardless of fuel-type, therefore this shouldn’t need to be something to worry about when choosing the right vehicle for you.

To slow a vehicle down and ensure the prevention of a crash, air brakes spring into action. In NPHM’s article, “air brakes use compressed air to push the brake shoe lining onto the brake drum creating friction to slow the wheel down.”


If we were to name one major and obvious difference between a gas vs diesel RV, it’s the noise that they both make. Gasoline-powered RVs are significantly quieter compared to their rival counterpart, and for good reason too.

Diesel-engines run at exceedingly high pressures- which means you’ll hear loud noises escaping through the port, caused by exhaust-gasses. Built-up pressure during combustion will also cause your cylinders to release similar loud sounds.

In this day and age, diesel engines can be injected with a specific synthetic to aid in silencing the noises- these can also be found to work with gas engines too (despite not needing them.) However, each manufacturer will declare whether or not they implement them into their fleet of RVs – thus it’s better to be upfront.


Although the amount of storage space you’ll receive in your RV will depend from person to person- a gasoline RV might provide a larger storage capacity, but can’t handle it as good as an RV that uses diesel.

Because diesel engines are both heavier in weight and produce more power, they allow for less additional cargo space. On the flipside, however, is its ability to withstand any additional storage (given its specifications) in comparison to a gas RV.

Fuel Efficiency

The amount of torque produced at low rpm is both common and a good thing to expect with diesel vehicles. Gas engines run at a higher rpm, which burns more fuel and therefore can become costly for you in the long run. Diesel engines, however, are far more fuel-efficient!

Because diesel engines have higher compression rates, it also produces more reusable energy through its ability to convert it from heat. And on average, diesel is believed to be 20% more efficient than gasoline.


Maintaining your RV isn’t extremely different in comparison – even if your engine takes gas or diesel. You’ll always be maintaining them using similar techniques, the only difference is what oils and lubricants you might use. We’ve compiled a 10-item checklist below to aid in the maintenance of your RV- and can be tweaked depending on your needs.

Maintenance 10-item RV Checklist:

  1. Engine oil and oil filter change using appropriate conserving oils of the proper viscosity
  2. Lube chassis
  3. Change hydraulic oil filter
  4. Water filter change
  5. Check and/or replace belts and hoses
  6. Top up a fluid level and change transmission filters every year
  7. Scan for loose, burnt, and damaged wires
  8. PCV system inspection and replace the valve as necessary
  9. Air filter bi-yearly change
  10. Overlook generator: checking, replacing, or changing both oil and air filters


The price of an RV fluctuates tremendously, regardless of what fuel it takes. With that in mind, however, diesel RVs tend to cost more than gas RVs – even if they share similar specifications or floor plan layout. A gas RV with the main necessities covered could cost you a starting price of $10,000. For a diesel RV, the starting price might be $17,000, as an example.

Diesel RV’s are known to withstand wear and tear, be extremely fuel-efficient, and last longer in comparison to gas- therefore, it’s expected to pay slightly more in price.

There is also no certainty when comparing a gas vs diesel RV – meaning prices could cost you as high as $300,000, depending on your requirements.

Is it Worth Buying a Diesel Motorhome?

Diesel motorhomes are always worth the investment, so long as you can afford the extra costs which it might take to maintain one. Remembering too that both a diesel RV and gas-powered RV are two different vehicles in itself – and it would be wrong to compare them side-by-side without knowing their differences.

What Gas Mileage Does a Diesel RV Get?

Manufacturers for both diesel and gas RVs claim the average mileage to expect is between 8 – 10mpg. Diesel engines, in general, are more fuel-efficient. So for a diesel RV in particular, you can expect the gas mileage to be slightly higher – varying between 10 – 14 miles per gallon, with some even claiming as high as 20mpg.

How Long Will a Diesel RV Last?

It’s extremely common amongst RV owners that your RV should last you 20 years or 200,000 miles on average. However, a diesel RV could last you even longer; Up to 30 years, or 300,000 miles, so long as you keep it in tip-top condition.

These figures can vary depending on the type of RV you own- it’s unique specifications, and how frequently you operate your vehicle. But if you’re keeping a regular check on the maintenance, you can expect no significant faults or future breakdowns.

Do Diesel Engines Last Longer Than Gas?

Despite the long-standing debate between both diesel and gas lovers – when it comes to an engine’s durability, diesel engines are believed to last longer in comparison to one of which takes gas. The reason for this is diesel engines have less horsepower, which in return, means less time for moving parts to accumulate wear and tear.

Parts such as the crankshaft bearings, cylinder walls, or any other moving part (and component) will spin slower – assisting in the longevity of the engine, so long as you’re using the correct oils as well.

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