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Old 09-18-2013, 01:15 PM   #1
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Are Diesels more difficult to drive?

I am looking at a 34-36' class A for next year. So far I really like the Winnebago Adventurer and Journey models.
Question is, can one drive a diesel pusher without any experience? I have always driven gas powered trucks/motorhomes. Is there a learning curve with air bags, air brakes, etc?

I do like the floor layout, and the idea of the heavier duty air brakes, air suspension, extra torque of the diesel.
We will be towing our 4000# JEEP behind it some of the time and a trailer full of atv's other times. The rest of the time we will be using it to tailgate during football games.

Sometimes when we camp I do need to take the motorhome off the beaten path to cross rocky fields and unpaved roads to boondock. Will this sort of driving beat up a heavy diesel pusher? Is a lighter gas model better suited for this type of use? Are diesel pushers better suited to the paved road?

Any advice would be appreciated!

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Old 09-18-2013, 01:42 PM   #2
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Mine drives itself. No comparison between a gasser and diesel. My advice is don't drive a diesel if you're not sure. Once you drive one, it'd be hard to go back.

Mark Anderson - FMCA 351514 - NRVIA
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Old 09-18-2013, 01:47 PM   #3
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I just upgraded from a gas MH to a diesel pusher. I haven't driven it too much yet but it drives/handles much better than a gas coach and I would say that it is easier to drive.

The air bags are automatic, air brakes could put you through the windshield if you don't have your seat belt on, the extra HP and torque of the diesel is wonderful so I'm not sure what you are worried about. Your trailer or toad will not be an issue.

However, it is not an off road vehicle. Driving it across rocky fields might be a problem but it should be able to handle dirt roads if you drive prudently. People boondock in the desert with diesel pushers all of the time.
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Old 09-18-2013, 01:47 PM   #4
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In a nut shell, no, it is not more difficult to drive a diesel.

Yes, you'll notice a difference the first time you mash the "gas" pedal, but in terms of strapping in and driving, it's more the size that gets people in trouble than the fuel type, and that can be in either gas or diesel.

There are a few things you'll want to bone up on that are different. Maintenance schedules, and there are a few things you didn't have on your gas coach, such as an air dryer and air bags. You'll want to learn at least the basics of how the air brakes work and I'm sure there are a few other things that aren't coming to mind right now, but as far as going down the road, all else being equal, diesel vs gas is a non issue.
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Old 09-18-2013, 02:02 PM   #5
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I agree with all of positive aspects the prior posters listed... but one of the best features IMHO, is the quieter ride since the diesel engine is in the rear...
Steve & Beth - Milton, New York
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Old 09-18-2013, 02:18 PM   #6
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I can't compare to a gas A, but my diesel has had good traction in some really wet soft turf this year. Was really surprised! Got a DRW dump truck stuck a couple of times but never the diesel coach.
The rest is just clearance and approach departure angles.
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Old 09-18-2013, 02:26 PM   #7
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I used to own 4 gas Class A coaches before I purchased my current 40' DP. I agree with all the previous posts but there is problem I have that has not been mentioned. I drive to fast if I don't use Speed Control. A DP drives so much smoother with less noise up front and before I know it I am going 75 MPH. MY DW will warm me to engage the Speed Control before I get a ticket. My DW was afraid to drive the DP at first but I took her out on a rural road less traveled and helped her to get comfortable. Now on long trips she asks if she can drive. She enjoys driving the beast.

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Old 09-18-2013, 02:31 PM   #8
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Have you checked with your state's DOT to see if you need a special endorsement or license class to drive an air brake equipped vehicle? I know in Canada, we have to take a course and get an air brake endorsement attached to our license.they want to make sure that you understand how air brakes work and be able to test the system prior to driving ( compressor etc.)
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Old 09-18-2013, 02:36 PM   #9
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air brakes do REQUIRE knowledge of their operation & maintenance and do have a different feel on the brake pedal as compared to hydraulic.

Air bags just take time to get used to them airing up before driving off

Not all but many diesels do have more power than gas

There is a learning curve driving a diesel...you have a narrow RPM window to work with as compared to gas. Nothing difficult though.

Diesels typically have a higher up keep expense(normal yr to yr maint stuff)

Diesel fuel is more more gallon than gasoline(so consider that extra cost, some have 4 times the engine oil as compared to a gasser)

Pending the size diesel, they tend to get better mpg than gas
96 Dynasty 36' that does NOT wander, thanks to RuppParts.com and their superior "poly" suspension bushings
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Old 09-18-2013, 02:42 PM   #10
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Rocky fields? Would not recommend...
Dirt roads? Doable, but go very slowly and pick your route.

We have taken coaches into some pretty remote areas and rough roads. Judge your time accordingly - a 5 mile dirt road at less than 5 MPH takes awhile...
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Old 09-18-2013, 02:55 PM   #11
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You probably get the idea by now that DPs are a bit nicer to drive than most gassers, and NO, they are not harder to drive. In fact they're much easier once you get past a short initial learning curve.

BUT, I sure wouldn't be taking most DPs very far off road. I hate even have to go down dirt access roads and shudder at the thought of getting any more adventurous than that.

Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

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Old 09-18-2013, 03:04 PM   #12
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Learning to drive our first RV, Adventurer diesel. It is great, quiet, powerful, smooth. Air brakes took a few stops in church parking lot to get use to. Maintenance cost more,17 qt. of motor oil, but much longer milage between changes.. I wanted diesel to travel out west, in mountains etc. and am very pleased.
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Old 09-18-2013, 03:11 PM   #13
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This may work better if you intend to go off roading.
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Old 09-18-2013, 03:52 PM   #14
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Check the GVWR of the diesel motor homes and then check your drivers license weight limit. When we were in Pennsylvania my license limited me to 26000 pounds with out taking another drivers test. In South Dakota there is no limit for non commercial use.
I'm still driving a 38 foot gas motor home but if the camper trash 401K lottery comes in tonight that might change.

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