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Old 07-14-2010, 07:42 PM   #1
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How much does routine maintenance on a diesel vs gas rig cost?

Hi, Folks -

Still shopping around for our ideal Class A and evaluating all the myriad of possibilities!

I've been reading a lot of forum posts on the 'net, but where can I find out just a ballpark figure of how much it would cost for annual routine maintenance for both a diesel, and also a gas, unit?

I keep hearing routine maintenance on a diesel is "more expensive", but I don't know what that really means in terms of actual dollars over a gas rig.

Also, is the maintenance for either rig more "mileage based"? Or more "time-based" (i.e., change the oil once a year even if you don't reach the mileage threshold for changing it in that year, etc.).

Would really welcome any guidance here, or maybe just point me in the right direction so I can find this info somewhere online?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:49 PM   #2
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PM maintenance on a diesel should happen once a year or every 7000 miles, $350-$600, depending on dealer, G
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:10 PM   #3
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Some years you get by cheap and other years are very expensive. One year you may only need an oil and filter change, fuel filter(s), chassis lube and generator service. Another year you may need those items plus replace coolant, replace transmission fluid and filters, hydraulic fluid and filters, wheel bearing grease/lube, engine air filter, air dryer filter, ride height adjustment, chassis alignment, etc. And some year you will need new batteries ($$$) and new tires ($$$$$).

Most routine service is set up on a time / mileage basis and most owners reach the time before reaching the mileage. If you do your own service you can save a lot of money. I buy my filters and fluids at discount prices and I don't have to pay myself a labor charge.
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:17 PM   #4
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My big block diesel averages $450 every 10K miles or each year. That includes lube, oil, filters, etc. Others can tell you more about gassers.

However, rule of thumb that can help you decide is:
If you plan on putting higher mileage on longer trips or frequent use, go with the diesel. If you will be a weekender using your coach on short trips or only 4-5 times a year, go with a gasser.

The reason I say that is a diesel will yield higher mpg, thus lower fuel costs. I know, I know, diesel is more expensive!!! But it really works out in favor of the diesel when you add a longer life cycle to the engine and tranny. On the other hand, if you will not drive that many miles per year, a gasser will last just as long.

Hope this helps somewhat

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Old 07-14-2010, 08:49 PM   #5
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A lot of the answer to your question depends on whether you can do any of it yourself. I do all my own routine maintenance it runs about $300-400 average for parts per year. As someone pointed out, It is cyclic. On the years where I replace the air filter ($140), the air brake filter $140, the differential fluid and the power steering fluid, it is more. Truck shops wold probably get $1,800 average per year for what I do. An engine oil change is 4+ gallons (engine size dependent) and costs $250 or more. We don't put more than 15K miles on year so that is a once-per-year thing. Our air filter is $140 and you would probably pay a professional $200-300 labor to put it in - it isn't a fun job. I use synthetic transmission fluid and don't plan to change it for 5 years. A gasser transmission probably needs servicing every 35K miles I did my own belts and hoses for a cost of about $300 in parts. I paid $450 just of a coolant change before I started doing everything myself.

Those are just examples and don't include stuff that breaks. Parts only, that is an extra $300 on average but I haven't had any big ticket parts yet. (knock on wood).

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by go6car View Post
Hi, Folks -

Still shopping around for our ideal Class A and evaluating all the myriad of possibilities!

I've been reading a lot of forum posts on the 'net, but where can I find out just a ballpark figure of how much it would cost for annual routine maintenance for both a diesel, and also a gas, unit?

I keep hearing routine maintenance on a diesel is "more expensive", but I don't know what that really means in terms of actual dollars over a gas rig.

Also, is the maintenance for either rig more "mileage based"? Or more "time-based" (i.e., change the oil once a year even if you don't reach the mileage threshold for changing it in that year, etc.).

Would really welcome any guidance here, or maybe just point me in the right direction so I can find this info somewhere online?

Thanks in advance!
I think you have to compare apples to apples. Diesel pusher motorhomes are big, stout, and heavy. Everything about them costs more and engine maintenance accounts for only a little of the extra (the intervals are 15,000 miles or one year for my Cummins). Tires, for example, cost upwards of $500 apiece. They'll go 75,000 miles or more before replacement - except that most MH owners don't put on that many miles and have to replace them after six or seven years with plenty of tread left. The brakes are big and costly to re-line. The air suspension is nice but it has added mechanical linkage (compared to springs, which have no maintenance at all.) The generator is diesel too, and it's also big, heavy, and expensive. On the other hand, I once had a diesel VW Rabbit and it cost no more to maintain than a gas-powered car.

All that said, I wouldn't go back from my 9mpg, 31,000 GVW pusher to my 9mpg, 16,000 pound gasser. Don't base your choice on the cost of oil changes alone; and enjoy whatever you finally decide on!
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Old 07-15-2010, 08:31 AM   #7
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You've gotten good advice. I've never owned a gasser but from what I've picked up from forums and my own experience with my DP leads me to believe that diesel maintenance is at least 2X that of a gasser if you simply take both to a dealer and have them do what the mfg recommends. And, that is what I do with mine since I do a lot of stuff myself but have no clue where to start maintaining a diesel chasis.

IMHO, if you're not going to full time, the only real reason to buy a diesel is "because you want one".... which is an excellent reason btw.

good luck to you...
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Old 07-15-2010, 09:15 AM   #8
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I have a gas unit and have a lube and oil change done every 3,000 miles or so which is about twice a year. It costs me up to $150 each time depending on where I take it. I have not replaced the air filter yet but I checked it a couple of months ago and it was still clean. It is a pleated filter similar to what a pickup uses so I am guessing it will cost about $25. I do my own work on the generator and it is cheap. It only uses about a quart and a half of oil and I get the filters at Camping World and they are not expensive. The rest of the regular maintenance is similar to a diesel's. Tires and batteries will cost the same although you will have more batteries to replace on a diesel. I don't have an air suspension so there is nothing there to repair. I have averaged 6.75 mpg towing a Suzuki Grand Vitara for 3 1/2 years. Most of the diesel owners who are honest and have a 38 - 40 foot diesel have told me they average about 7 - 7 1/2 mpg. It takes a lot of miles to offset the extra purchase cost of a diesel and the higher fuel price.
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Old 07-15-2010, 01:12 PM   #9
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If you can afford the DP, go desiel. To me, it's all about the ride and how quiet it is in the cockpit. Also, climing these mountains, you won't see me in the truck lane. Just my $0.02.
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Old 07-16-2010, 04:34 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone! Great perspectives and a lot of help in giving me multiple frames of reference!

I'm giving myself about a year or so to really research this decision. Thank goodness for forums like this, because when you have no real-world experience with these rigs, this is truly all you've got to go on!

Thanks again - I'm sure I'll keep the questions coming!

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Old 07-16-2010, 04:03 PM   #11
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FYI. Just had an oil change on my 08 gas, Ford V-10 at the local Ford dealer for about 50.00. MPG on our current trip, some in the mts, is 7.65.

RJ
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Old 07-16-2010, 11:02 PM   #12
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Interesting this came up. I do all maintenance on my coach except alignments... and when I get that done, I have the ride height checked and adjusted, primarily because they only charge me $35 to do it and I hate doing it.

I did my "big" maintenance a month ago and kept track of my costs vs what a spartan shop quoted (for kicks

- Changed hydraulic fluid and filter --- My cost: $120 (I used Amsoil AW46, a bit more expensive) | Shop quote: $200
- Changed fluid in cooling fan gearbox --- My cost: $30 (using Lucas) | Shop quote: $150
- Coolant filter --- My cost: $8 + shipping | Shop quote: $50
- Changed the trans filters and fluid --- My cost: $460 (Transynd is EXPENSIVE!) | Shop quote: $1000
- Air desiccant filter --- My cost: $85 | Shop quote: $175
- Flushed and filled front wheel hubs and tag hubs --- My cost: $15 (using Lucas) | Shop quote: $175
- Drained/filled rear diff --- My cost: ~$100 (using Shell) | Shop quote: $225
- Usual oil change/lube --- My cost: $125 | Shop quote: $300
- Fuel filter --- My cost: $28 | Shop quote: $75
- Full generator service (air filter, fuel filter, oil change) --- My cost: ~$100 | Shop quote: $200
- Chassis air filter --- My cost: $125 | Shop quote: $195


If the aforementioned services were performed at a shop, the total cost (and bear in mind these services aren't needed EVERY year and the price will vary from shop to shop) would have been: $2,745.

To do it myself, the cost was just under $1200.
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:27 AM   #13
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I'm so glad i've got a lowly gasser

Quote:
Originally Posted by LindyT View Post
Interesting this came up. I do all maintenance on my coach except alignments... and when I get that done, I have the ride height checked and adjusted, primarily because they only charge me $35 to do it and I hate doing it.

I did my "big" maintenance a month ago and kept track of my costs vs what a spartan shop quoted (for kicks

- Changed hydraulic fluid and filter --- My cost: $120 (I used Amsoil AW46, a bit more expensive) | Shop quote: $200
- Changed fluid in cooling fan gearbox --- My cost: $30 (using Lucas) | Shop quote: $150
- Coolant filter --- My cost: $8 + shipping | Shop quote: $50
- Changed the trans filters and fluid --- My cost: $460 (Transynd is EXPENSIVE!) | Shop quote: $1000
- Air desiccant filter --- My cost: $85 | Shop quote: $175
- Flushed and filled front wheel hubs and tag hubs --- My cost: $15 (using Lucas) | Shop quote: $175
- Drained/filled rear diff --- My cost: ~$100 (using Shell) | Shop quote: $225
- Usual oil change/lube --- My cost: $125 | Shop quote: $300
- Fuel filter --- My cost: $28 | Shop quote: $75
- Full generator service (air filter, fuel filter, oil change) --- My cost: ~$100 | Shop quote: $200
- Chassis air filter --- My cost: $125 | Shop quote: $195


If the aforementioned services were performed at a shop, the total cost (and bear in mind these services aren't needed EVERY year and the price will vary from shop to shop) would have been: $2,745.

To do it myself, the cost was just under $1200.

I'm a do it yourself type. After reading this post I'm never going to get a DP. My lowly F53 chassis is about as complicated as a pickup to fix once you get over the size difference in parts. While in Alaska last year I remember complaining about the $65 I had to pay for the air filter.

What I don't get is this. If the DP drivetrain is so robust why are the intervals for maintenance so short?

I might think about a gas pusher but never diesel. The numbers bother me. I think it bothers the owners of DP's as well from what I see in the cost cutting ideas.

It's like watching my buddy take his Ferrari in for an oil change or worse yet a valve adjustment. I'm glad (very) it's not me.
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:31 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by WOODYDEL View Post
I'm a do it yourself type. After reading this post I'm never going to get a DP. My lowly F53 chassis is about as complicated as a pickup to fix once you get over the size difference in parts. While in Alaska last year I remember complaining about the $65 I had to pay for the air filter.

What I don't get is this. If the DP drivetrain is so robust why are the intervals for maintenance so short?

I might think about a gas pusher but never diesel. The numbers bother me. I think it bothers the owners of DP's as well from what I see in the cost cutting ideas.

It's like watching my buddy take his Ferrari in for an oil change or worse yet a valve adjustment. I'm glad (very) it's not me.
People cut corners on all types of maintenance, both gas and diesel. I've never understood that. I'm one who errors on the side of too much maintenance because my goal is to prevent any kind of a breakdown if it is at all possible. I would prefer that my DP air filters didn't cost $125 but considering the fact that they will last 3-4 years, the per year cost isn't much different than a gas engine where the recommended change interval for an air filter is more frequent.

I stick to the maintenance schedules provided by Freightliner, the chassis maker for our DP. I use the different types of grease that they recommend, not a "one size fits all" approach that most truck service centers adapt. In addition, I'm meticulous at following the "inspect" parts of the maintenance schedule. I carefully examine each component and, now that I've been doing it for more than 5 years, I have a good sense for what is "normal" and have detected and corrected several problems before they had any impact on our use of the RV.

We rented two Class Cs before our purchase. Both had less than 50K miles on them and both broke down and had to be replaced during our rentals. When we decided to purchase, we wanted to avoid those kinds of experiences. We felt that the DP drive train did offer a robust solution and we have not regretted that decision. I'd maintained our gas passenger vehicles for over 30 years prior to our purchase of the DP. I found it more than a little intimidating at first. After a couple of times of taking it to "professionals" for maintenance and seeing the short cuts that they took, I took over all of the maintenance and have never looked back.

Like just about everything else, familiarity is the key. I had a contractor try to explain to me how difficult it was to replace "popcorn" ceilings in a house and how it could only be done by a professional. I watched his guy apply the new type to texture coat to a neighbor's ceiling with a sprayer. The next day, I bought the same type of sprayer and have replaced the popcorn ceilings in our whole house since. My neighbor thinks that my work is better than what she paid for. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I'm just saying that often things are made to seem more complicated and difficult than they need to be. I consider maintenance on a DP to be one of those subjects. I have lots of stories like putting a new serpentine belt on our Cummins to back that up. Several shops charged DP owners over $300 to do that work and removed the fan to accomplish it. I can change my own belt and it takes less than 10 minutes. I hardly break a sweat - and ours is a rear radiator model that has gotten a reputation for being difficult to work on.
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