How to Save Money on Fuel While RVing
By Nicole Wakelin
The snow is gone, the flowers are blooming, and summer is finally here! That means it’s time to get that RV ready for more exploring and fun adventures. While you plan your next great road trip, take a minute to check out these easy tips for managing your fuel costs, so you can stretch your budget and explore even further.
Use cruise control the right way. Cruise control automatically adjusts your vehicle's speed to maintain an even pace so you don’t burn up extra gas making manual adjustments. It’s a great fuel-saving feature, but sometimes the best person for the job is you. At the top of a hill, for instance, it’s better to disengage the cruise control and let your RV coast to take advantage of gravity, rather than making the engine manage your speed. Once you’re at or near the bottom of the hill, go ahead and re-engage the cruise control to maintain a constant, fuel-efficient speed on the straightaways.
Stay in one place longer. Don’t look at a site as simply a place to stop and spend the night. Many sites are destinations in their own rights. Plan to spend some time at each of your stops and truly enjoy the amenities from pools to tennis courts to sweeping mountain views. If you’re towing a car, use it to explore the local area longer rather than constantly relocating your RV to a new site.
Get rid of extra weight. The more weight in your RV, the more fuel it’s going to use, so pack as light as possible. Buy things like firewood when you arrive at the campground rather than hauling them with you. The same goes for groceries and anything else you can easily buy near your destination. Also, make sure all holding tanks are completely dumped before you leave, even if they’re not entirely full.
Plan your route carefully. Make sure you know exactly where you’re going before you set out on your trip. This will give you the opportunity to select an optimal route, and also ensure you don’t use up gas heading in the wrong direction. When possible, avoid hilly terrain and opt for highways where you can keep a nice steady speed rather than having to constantly brake and accelerate to manage traffic lights and curvy roads.
Watch the weather. A perfect, sunny day makes for great driving, but when the weather turns, it’s a different story. In addition to increasing your chance of an accident, bad weather slows down the overall traffic flow and makes it harder for you to keep a constant speed. When possible, plan your longest travel days when the weather is good, and consider pulling into a rest area to take a break if the going is particularly slow.
Pay attention to traffic. Avoid traveling when everyone else is on the road, too. Commuter routes at rush hour, school areas in the afternoons, and tourist spots on a Saturday morning are likely to leave you sitting in traffic burning precious fuel. Time your travel around these potential slowdowns and you’ll save fuel and have a more enjoyable trip.
Check your oxygen sensor. Proper maintenance is key to being safe and getting the best fuel economy out of your RV. This includes changing the oil and air filters, properly inflating and maintaining the tires, and making sure that you’re keeping up with your RV’s scheduled maintenance. One thing you might not think to have checked is your oxygen sensor. A failing oxygen sensor can set off the check engine light on your dashboard and reduces your fuel economy by up to 40 percent. Make sure to have this part checked before you set out for the summer.
Hauling around your living space and all your personal belongings is a big job, and it's going to take a lot of fuel. But that doesn't mean you can't take steps to cut back. Planning, maintenance, and responsible driving can go a long way toward reducing your fuel bill, leaving money in your budget for extra exploring and fun with family and friends.