jbric008

Buying A Diesel Versus Gas Motorhome

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We have a gas Holiday Rambler 2006 37 ft class A. It has a Ford V6 motor. We have not gone many places with it. My husband says that to go across country we would need to get a diesel because he does not want to drive a gas in the hills and mountains etc. I am pushing back on getting a new motorhome. I would like your thoughts on whether or not a gas coach can go across country. My husband says it is hard to drive in hilly areas and he needs a diesel. I have not written anything on these forums before so appreciate your thoughts.

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Your Holiday Rambler will make it across the country just fine, however from his point of view, and I'm with him, I "need" a diesel power to make it!

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There are gas motor homes traveling all over the country. We see them everywhere. If you husband isn't comfortable driving a gas motor home in hills and mountains, stick to the flat lands! With careful route selection, you can avoid the mountain driving and still see most of the US. As he drives more he may become more comfortable driving in steep hills and mountains. There are organizations that offer driving classes/lessons for motor homes. Find an organization that can specialize the lessons to deal with issues of gas motor homes and handling a gas powered vehicle in mountainous terrain.

By the way, FMCA offers classes for women drivers at their National Conventions. Louise took the course several years ago. I recommend it. Louise shares driving duties with me including some mountain driving. When she drives I can get a nap!

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I have driven my gas engine coach (Workhorse with 8.1L engine) all over the U.S. for seven years - including up and down and back and forth across the Rockies a number of times with no problem. He does not "need" a diesel pusher, he wants a DP.

Going from Denver to Grand Junction via I70 I do drop down to 25 mph or so for maybe ten minutes on one of the grades but that is no big deal.

On other mountain roads my speed will often drop to 40 mph or so - again no big deal. All in all during the last seven years I have probably spent less than one percent of my driving time going slower than I would like.

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I also have a gas engine (Workhorse 8.1L) and have been a fulltimer in it for 6 years. We have gone over mountains up to 12,000 ft and made it just fine. Yes, we slow down a lot, but so do the diesels.

We ran all the way to Alaska and back with 3 Newmar Mountain Aires with big diesels and did just fine. They did not slow me up at all. :lol:

Like your husband we "want" a diesel. Mainly because we want a 43 footer and more cargo capacity.

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Well for what it worth, I have always had diesel engine MH & Trucks, Since I rented a gas 30ft Motorhome once. very bad fuel mileage 4/5mpg (for going so slow), When they (gas) HM's get older run hot, wear out in 120/150K or less, Try to pull 35 to 50K with a gas engine, I have a friend that just purchased a 2011 Gas powered Tiffen. He is already whining (crying) about the lack of power, going so slow up the hills, poor fuel milage, wind blowing him around on the road (no weight) lack of storage, gas generator, no air brakes!, small batteries (just 2) house and coach batteries are way to small. Big hump in the front floor.. on and on. I get the feeling that he is unhappy and he wanted a diesel pusher, but his wife brow beat him in to a cheaper being gas powered MH and he is un-happy. I feel for him he knew what they needed and now he/they suffer. I run a diesel C-12 Cat MT400 trans 52,000 lbs. coach loaded and get 8mpg. Whats wrong with that? Go anywhere, stay out for weeks, diesel generator, one solar panel, lots of storage and I have the power to get just about anywhere in a normal time frame. Yes, you can get there in a gas powered one too,you can also get there in a covered wagon! It's your call. B)

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Here's the thing. I was dead set against getting a diesel coach. I had heard that they are a lot more maintenance wise and more expensive to work on. And most of that holds true to an extent. We have a 2000 Safari Zanzibar 40 foot with a 6 speed Allison transmission.

When we were looking for our coach I told the sales people I wasn't interested in even looking at a diesel. A sales person along with my Partner harped on test driving a gas 40 foot and a diesel 40 foot. We tow a Jeep Grand Cherokee which weighs in at 4,900 lbs. Driving a gas coach and a diesel coach are two different worlds.

First, most gas coaches are built on a truck chassis whereas diesel coaches are normally built on custom or bus chassis. The difference in handling alone was enough to get my attention. And yes, the torque you get with a diesel is significantly improved.

We work all over the country and have to spend 3 weeks or so of each project on site full time as the projects wind down. Typically with a full load and the toad we get about 8mpg. Which is pretty good for all that weight. But the difference in driver fatigue is enormous. We can typically maintain 55 to 60 on a 7% grade. That's a big difference.

Our coach requires an oil change every 15,000 miles or 1 year. That's a bit different from gas coaches. But over all the handling, the air suspension, and the power you get with a diesel is unsurpassed compared to a gas coach.

If you're going to be doing a lot of miles in your coach and you can afford to trade up, I say go for it! But be warned, do not drive a diesel unless you are ready to buy! Otherwise you'll be miserable in your gas coach.

If you are looking at a used diesel coach I would highly recommend a good solid extended warranty. That's saved us nearly $8k of expenses. That's not to say we haven't had to put some money into our coach but it was definitely worth it.

Just my humble opinion.

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I had a Bounder with a 454 Chevy engine. It flat out moved on flat land, but going up the mountains, pulling a toad, I thought the engine was going to come out of the thing and no power! So, I bought my present motor home, a pusher and what a difference in ride, handling, and power! Goes up the mountains with my toad, passing 18 wheelers, down the hills using pacbrake and don't even have to touch the foot brakes! Lots of room for Wintering and not getting cabin fever like the Bounder. Get 8 mpg, oil change every year or 15,000 miles. Yes, up keep is more expensive, filters, oil, tires, everything, but you're a long time dead, might as well indulge yourself! I have to admit, and I'm sure you know, a motor home does not appreciate every year like a house, it depreciates like a car.

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I just did what your husband is asking to do. I traded a 2001 Fleetwood Bounder V10 Gas 33ft for a 2005 Fleetwood Expedition 38ft with a 300 Cat diesel. I picked it up in Fla. Drove my RV down there and the new purchase back. I cannot tell you the difference it made in the handling and comfort. This is the time to be looking for an upgrade... there has never been a time that DP are selling at a fairer price. I had my gas RV for one year mainly to see if we liked to camp. We did. I spent several thousand $ trying to get the RV so I could drive it on flat land. I loved the RV, the layout, it all worked fine till I got behind the wheel. I ended every trip with glad that is over. It was loud in the front, it swayed, it would go somewhere every time the wind blew or a truck went by. All of that was on flat land. I would have never took the unit to the mountains. All of these folks that are telling you to go with what you have have decided they will drive on no matter the chore it is to drive. Yes it cost more to upkeep the unit but the safety, comfort, quiet and ride of the diesel is worth it. You see it is kinda like I could drive a VW Bug around and love the cost, mileage,little upkeep etc or I could drive a full size car or van and actually be able to walk around when I get where I am going. Way I see it I am retired and I have some years left to enjoy camping and I want that time to be spent as stress free as possible. I cannot wait to go driving this unit right now. Before I was constantly holding on for dear life as I drove the gasser. By the way I also love being able to talk to my co pilot and us hear each other or the radio. In the end you will enjoy keeping what you have but I did not want any regrets when the day came to take my keys away.....happy camping...glen

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I have the best of both worlds. Lower maintnance and fuel costs, great brakes, and a very quiet coach, quieter than a diesel pusher.

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I will go along with most of the posts here. We got a new 36 foot unit with a Workhorse chassis with the 8.1L V8 that had plenty of go to it on the flat but not much going up the mountains. It was noisy and you never relaxed while driving it. Co pilot wanted to try it out one time and nearly put us in the ditch and she was done, has never even hinted that she wanted to try again. We now have a 2005 Winnebago DP with lots of power (400 hp Cummins). It is so easy to drive and we can talk without screaming our lungs out. Still haven't convinced the co pilot to give it a try but know she would have no problems. We average about 8 MPG and change oil and filters once a year or every 12 to 15 thousand miles. Once you go DP you will never be satisfied with a gas rig again. Our rig weighs in at around 38,000 pounds and we tow a 2011 Kia Soul for another 4000 pounds. Really never feel the Soul back there. I set the cruise control at 60 and have to turn it off to take some of the corners going up the passes here in Oregon. If we could hang on and didn't mind all the stuff falling on the floor that we didn't tie down, it would take them at 60 and never slow down.

If you can afford it at least take a test drive in one and see for yourself the difference. Oh and for God's sake if you are planing on full timing pay attention to TV location, you may spend a lot of time looking at it. Also function of the floor plan, does it have enough food storage and places for cooking pots and pans, dishes and so forth. you are going to be in there full time so you need to know you will be comfortable. Just like buying a house it needs to fit your needs.

Also, it is possible to have a real household fridge installed if not already in there. Get that if you can because it will save you big headaches down the road and lots of money. Replacement cost for the largest Norcold is close to $4000 New cooling unit for same fridge is close to $3000. Capacity of the Norcold is a bit over 12 cubic feet. You can get a nice house fridge from Sears for under $1500 and it is over 20 cubic feet in capacity and will be frost free with ice and water through the door.

With extended warranty if it fails you can replace it just about anywhere there is a Sears store. Our coach even has a dishwasher under the stove top which really saves the co pilot a lot of work. We also changed the gas cook top to an electric one. Only thing we have left that is gas is the furnaces and water heater. We have a heat pump for when temps are above 40 degrees and it also keeps us cool when they get above 80. This all helps make the LP last a lot longer. Water heater is also electric so we turn gas side off when plugged in.

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So do you run with your inverter on at all times? if so does this have any adverse effect on your batteries? I believe the manufactures are now putting residential fridges into their new coaches........ Hal

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I drove gas coaches for many many years before being lucky enough to get a big diesel. It is just my opinion, but I would not let the gas motor you have keep you from crossing the USA. Thousands do that every year. BTW you likely have a Ford V10. If you really do have a V6 gas then you should buy a diesel.

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Bill Adams,

My house appreciates evey day. It appreciates that I mow the grass. It appreciates that I fix the door. It appreciates everything I do for it.

There are a lot of Gas coaches out there and they do a fine job, while there are some that don't do such so good. jbric008 said the he now has a Holiday Rambler 37 foot coach with a Ford (Fix Or Repair Daily). :lol: In my openion he has too much coach for his engine. 34 feet should be the limit for gas coaches. Also the

Ford V10, which I beleive jbric008 has, had lots of problems early on. They have improved it in the past few years though. Gas and diesels both can do just fine when they are matched with the correct size coach. jbric008 needs to take a trip into the mountains and show his wife what he believes is the problem. That might help explain to her what you are saying. Good luck and Merry CHRISTmas and a Happy New Year

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My coach travels up and down mountains just fine....I pass trucks and can climb with the diesel motorhomes. Then again my coach is not your typical gasser either.

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Back in the 70's we traveled through all of the lower 48 states twice in 3 1/2 years with 2 gas motorhomes, each with 440 Dodge engines. Never found a highway we couldn't run on. Average mileage about 7 mpg. Now we've "grown up" and have a 32' diesel pusher. It's highly modified to suit our needs. We tow a Silverado p/u and get 11 mpg going coast to coast. One of the advantages of a diesel is the exhaust brake. We've gone down 8-10% grades and never had to use the brakes. We talked to one fellow in Alaska that had a gas coach and he said he would have to come to almost a complete stop at the top of a steep hill so he could put it into low gear and the go down the hill at 10-15 mph or it would run away too fast. If he tried to use the brakes, they would fad and the pedal would go to the floor. Not a comfortable feeling.

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That is another advantage of the UFO chassis as well as the w-24 Workhorse, both have a grade brake. When the grade brake is turned on and you tap your brake pedal the Allison downshifts, the brakes do not engage unless you hold the pedal down for about five seconds.

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I have to agree with the one fellow that said "Beware...don't take a test drive in a diesel if you're not prepared to buy one...!" I owned three different gassers before I bought my first diesel pusher. Two of my gassers even had the Banks PowerPacks installed on them. Once I got behind the wheel of a diesel and drove a few miles, I vowed I would never go back to gasoline. I am since on my third diesel coach. Yes, they cost more to maintain. But the ride, power, surge-braking and handling make it all worthwhile.

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