Diesel or Gas MotorHome? Which is Better?
By Craig Norman

So you’re considering buying a motor home, Class A or Class C. In this article I will discuss an age old question and one I get asked a lot, should I buy gas or diesel? This question has fueled many lively debates and to be honest, it comes down to personal preference. I will try to list the pros and cons for each engine and leave it to my readers to decide which is best for them.

Pros to Owning a Diesel Motorhome

For those planning on traveling a lot, a diesel engine may be a good choice. One reason is that a diesel engine will last longer in comparison to a gas engine. This is a fact. It is why large commercial trucks all have diesel engines in them.

Another advantage to consider in a diesel engine is torque. With a diesel engine the horsepower peaks at a lower RPM, and there is more torque at a lower RPM compared to a gasoline engine. This results in a diesel engine having much more power at a lower RPM. This higher torque and higher horsepower at a lower RPM equates to a longer lasting engine. And, for all those considering pulling a heavy travel trailer or fifth wheel a diesel engine in your truck is probably a better choice as well.

In addition to having more torque, diesel engines are more fuel efficient than gas engines. You can expect more miles per gallon, but don't expect a dramatic difference. Diesel Motorhomes have a wider selection of floor plans to choose from compared to gas motorhomes.

The chassis of most diesel motorhomes are better constructed than the chassis of gas motorhomes. The towing capacity is greater and that is this why many fulltime RVs prefer diesel over gas. Diesel powered motorhomes tend to have a smoother ride than gas motorhomes, this is due to the availability of air ride suspensions and the heavier chassis in my opinion. According to the NADA Guides diesel motorhomes retain their value better compared to gas motorhomes.

Cons to Owning a Diesel Motorhome

Diesel motorhomes cost more than gas and this can be a drawback, especially if you’re on a tight budget. In addition to the higher cost factor, the maintenance cost for diesel engines is higher than for gas engines.

Diesel engines are more difficult to work on and it is typically not a good idea to work on them yourself. Yes, you can probably replace the oil filter or air filter but diesel in general is more difficult.

It used to be that diesel fuel was cheaper compared to regular gas but times have changed and now diesel is more expensive. But on the flip side, there are bio-fuels being introduced that could be used in place of regular diesel that may help lower overall fuel costs for diesel owners. It has not happened yet but could be a potential in the future.

Pros to owing a gas motorhome

A gas powered motorhome typically costs less compared to a diesel motorhome. A gas engine is cheaper to maintain and a bit easier to work on.
A number of RV manufacturers are introducing innovative ways to increase the horsepower and torque in gas engines which is starting to turn some heads.
Motorhomes that use gas are quieter and don’t smell as much and for some this is a big factor.

Cons to owing a gas motorhome

A gas engine has a lower life-span than a diesel engine. So, when considering a motorhome look at how long you plan on owing it. Most gas RV motorhomes are not as fuel efficient as diesel; on average they have a lower MPG rating.
A gas motor home does not retain its value as well as a diesel motorhome, Gas engines produce more CO2 emissions (CO2 is considered to be the catalyst to global warming.

Gas engines lose power with altitude (going over that mountain pass can be a problem and don’t expect to pass anyone).

A Gas motorhome chassis is generally not as hefty and has less carrying capacity than a diesel motorhome. Gas motorhomes have fewer floor plan choices than diesel motorhomes.

I hope this article has been of some help. Remember it really comes down to personal preference. Try to look at the big picture when considering diesel verses gas. When shopping for a motorhome, test-drive both gas and diesel engines to get a feel for how they handle. Spend some time looking at the chassis and basement storage capacity. There is one resource available online that I discovered while researching this topic. The company, J R Consumer Resources Inc. is a non-biased organization that provides ratings and reviews for RV buyers. They rate over 60 different RV manufacturers in North America and the publication is called, “RV Comparison Guide”.

In addition to fair and balanced ratings this publication also provides money saving buying tips, construction information and hard hitting facts you won’t find anywhere else. To learn more please visit http://www.jrconsumer.com.