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Old 05-30-2015, 02:15 PM   #1
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Operating Costs

Looking for some opinions from owners that have owned both gassers and diesels. I'm sure most have never moved from a diesel to a gasser but if there is was driven by cost? In my price range I'm finding very nice diesels for about the same money as some gassers. I want to stay away from Cat that is something I know for sure. As for as other things it seams that the diesels just have more complicated systems to keep up. They both get about the same mpg roughly but the gassers w/o some sort of grade braking system concerns me on the hills in the mountains traveling to and from Florida not to mention the Rockies. I have seen a grade brake on some Winnebago gassers, very few. Excluding tires and being a hands on guy what can I expect to maybe spend on just maintenance annually. Anyone have any good records they keep to help with that. My MH of choice is in then 2002-2006 range roughly.
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Old 05-30-2015, 02:19 PM   #2
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Oddly enough I seem to read more posts re; troubles with Cummins engines lately. Maybe that's just because there are more of them out there ? (not looking to start a Cat/Cummins thing)

As far as maintenance costs I've done all the fluid, filter changes on ours for the past 3 years. I put a fumoto valve on the oil pan for quick draining. Makes the job quick, clean and easy. Other than the quantity of fluids if you do the work yourself I don't think there are real big differences in maintenance costs.
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Old 05-30-2015, 02:35 PM   #3
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I went from an older gas RV to and newer diesel. Your diesel maintenance cost will depend on the size of the engine and who is doing the work. My current is about the size of my old gas. I have a cummins ISB 300hp engine. Oil and filter change is about $130 at Speedco. The larger engines are more. I will only have to change my oil once per year while I would have two oil changes on my gas. Annual oil change costs are about the same for me.

I can get all of my filters from Filter Barn for about $100. I change fuel filters twice per year (once with the oil change). I only had to change my filters on the gas RV as needed.

My current RV gets 9-10 mpg while my gas RV got 6-6.5 mpg. If you watch where you gas up, the difference between gas and diesel prices can be minimal. So, my fuel cost will more than offset the higher diesel prices. Overall, my maintenance cost for my current RV is a little more that my old gas unit but the gas savings make up for that.
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Old 05-30-2015, 02:58 PM   #4
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Had a Class C with ford chassis, 460 engine. We put on about 67K miles in the 11 years we owned it. Maintenance was lube, filters, oil change. Back then they recommended oil changes every 3K so twice per year basically but relatively cheap, probably <60/year. We did loose a seal in the transmission ~$400 to fix, Both exhaust manifolds, one under warranty, ~$500. Did replace carpeting with laminate flooring, minor cost but nice upgrade. Had to replace tires 2 times since we owned but cost <$1000 per time.

Currently have Class A DP with Cummins 350 HP 8.3L ISC. 2002 Monaco Windsor a very nice coach.


We've put on ~50K miles in 6 years, I change the oil between 12-18 months depending on if we use it equally, more frequently if it was parked for long durations. It takes about 20 quarts of oil, oil filter, coolant filter, 2 fuel filters (change fuel filters 2 times per year). I watch for Valvoline Blue to go on sale at Autozone ~$14/gallong so I need $70 for oil, and the filters are about $100. So doing it myself ~$170. Changed the fluid in my transmission 1 time with new filters for ~$200, and filters for ~$50. Changed the diff oil $150.

As normal wear and tear had to change house and chassis batteries for ~$600. Also had to put all new tires on $3600.

Usually with the DP's the operating systems are more technically challenging. Since I've owned this coach I've had to change the water heater, Kwiki steps, water pump, radio 2 times, EMS circuit board, ECM for Transmission >> costing ~+$5K.

I am now battling a radiator failure that's going to cost +$6K to have repair, I'm not doing this myself (kicking myself now).

I have done some upgrades, both TV's, new flooring, upgrade LED lights, Silverleaf monitoring system.

I tend to be very proactive trying to keep the coach in good working order. Just got done fixing 3 fogged windows myself, minor cost ~$100.


Fuel cost per mile is about the same, got ~7mpg with the Class C get ~7.5-8mpg with DP but we are able to pull our jeep.

I commented to my wife this week that if the expenses do not come down we cannot afford to keep our coach, even though both of us love it. The last 3 years have been brutal with the next big potential issues being engine & transmission YIKES.

Hate to burst anyone's bubble but DP's aren't cheap, traveling in luxury costs money.
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Old 05-30-2015, 03:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jacwjames View Post
Had a Class C with ford chassis, 460 engine. We put on about 67K miles in the 11 years we owned it. Maintenance was lube, filters, oil change. Back then they recommended oil changes every 3K so twice per year basically but relatively cheap, probably <60/year. We did loose a seal in the transmission ~$400 to fix, Both exhaust manifolds, one under warranty, ~$500. Did replace carpeting with laminate flooring, minor cost but nice upgrade. Had to replace tires 2 times since we owned but cost <$1000 per time.

Currently have Class A DP with Cummins 350 HP 8.3L ISC. 2002 Monaco Windsor a very nice coach.


We've put on ~50K miles in 6 years, I change the oil between 12-18 months depending on if we use it equally, more frequently if it was parked for long durations. It takes about 20 quarts of oil, oil filter, coolant filter, 2 fuel filters (change fuel filters 2 times per year). I watch for Valvoline Blue to go on sale at Autozone ~$14/gallong so I need $70 for oil, and the filters are about $100. So doing it myself ~$170. Changed the fluid in my transmission 1 time with new filters for ~$200, and filters for ~$50. Changed the diff oil $150.

As normal wear and tear had to change house and chassis batteries for ~$600. Also had to put all new tires on $3600.

Usually with the DP's the operating systems are more technically challenging. Since I've owned this coach I've had to change the water heater, Kwiki steps, water pump, radio 2 times, EMS circuit board, ECM for Transmission >> costing ~+$5K.

I am now battling a radiator failure that's going to cost +$6K to have repair, I'm not doing this myself (kicking myself now).

I have done some upgrades, both TV's, new flooring, upgrade LED lights, Silverleaf monitoring system.

I tend to be very proactive trying to keep the coach in good working order. Just got done fixing 3 fogged windows myself, minor cost ~$100.


Fuel cost per mile is about the same, got ~7mpg with the Class C get ~7.5-8mpg with DP but we are able to pull our jeep.

I commented to my wife this week that if the expenses do not come down we cannot afford to keep our coach, even though both of us love it. The last 3 years have been brutal with the next big potential issues being engine & transmission YIKES.

Hate to burst anyone's bubble but DP's aren't cheap, traveling in luxury costs money.

Your unit and power train are typical as to what I have been looking at and in my spending range for purchase. Your story is a good example of my fears. Maybe you will be set after this. How many miles on your coach?
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Old 05-30-2015, 03:45 PM   #6
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Operating Costs

I'm pretty Lucky as I get a lot of Help from My Son when it comes to maintenance of My Current Rig ! It's a 1998 Dutch Star on a Spartan Chassis . It has the Mechanical FI Cummins C8.3 ....with 300 galloping horse power and the smooth shifting Allison Tranny!

We are the third Owners of this beauty and just rolled over to 80 ,000 Miles this past Winter trip! She had 46,000 on the clock when We took possession six Years ago this July!

Our old Rig was a 1990 Southwind on John Deere Chassis with a Ford 460 carbureted Engine! It is still running around here getting loved and maintained by the mechanic owner who I sold her to!

We typically run less than 7,000 Miles in a Year and that hasn't changed in the last dozen or so years!

The Ford got lubed and Oil changes twice a year,the Cummins gets the same maintenance just once a year! So the overall cost of maintenance is only slightly higher on the diesel!

Everything else on the rig is pretty standard,but I Can and do carry more stuff in the Dutch Star so We are certainly. More comfortable in the Dutch Star and it has. Slide so is considerably larger.

Mileage is slightly better with the heavier Diesel Rig and the Ride is much better and less tiring ! We also tow a bigger Car!

All in All I think that We made the right decision ,although it would be nice to have a shiny newer Rig ,I probably would just scratch it up in no time anyway!
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Old 05-30-2015, 03:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmw188 View Post
Looking for some opinions from owners that have owned both gassers and diesels. I'm sure most have never moved from a diesel to a gasser but if there is was driven by cost? In my price range I'm finding very nice diesels for about the same money as some gassers. I want to stay away from Cat that is something I know for sure. As for as other things it seams that the diesels just have more complicated systems to keep up. They both get about the same mpg roughly but the gassers w/o some sort of grade braking system concerns me on the hills in the mountains traveling to and from Florida not to mention the Rockies. I have seen a grade brake on some Winnebago gassers, very few. Excluding tires and being a hands on guy what can I expect to maybe spend on just maintenance annually. Anyone have any good records they keep to help with that. My MH of choice is in then 2002-2006 range roughly.

Well Sir,
Not exactly sure why you're wanting to stay away from CAT equipped coaches but, in not only mine, but many, many others opinions too, you're limiting yourself in some mighty nice coach floor plans and quality coaches too, due to shying away from CAT equipped ones. But, you've got to do what's right for you I guess.

Diesel coaches are without a doubt, a bit more expensive on the maintenance and ownership side than their gas counter parts. But, there's a whole serious amount of reasons why too. First and foremost, they ride better due primarily to the air ride suspension. Second, the noise level in the cabin area is considerably quieter than gas units due to the engine in the rear. Many find the entry door area in a diesel (most) to be of better use of space due to more advantageous use of the middle of the coach.


There are basically two kinds of auxiliary braking systems associated with most diesel coaches. The first, a more common one, is called an EXAUST BRAKE. It operates by shutting down the exhaust system with a large valve and thus, there's no where for the engine exhaust to go so, it builds up and, therefore, slows you down. The second type, called the "COMPRESSION BRAKE" or, more commonly also known as, the "Jake Brake". (due to who originally purchased the rights to the design, "Jacobs Drill and Chuck Co"), now has become Jacobs Manufacturing Corp.

It's operation is totally different than the exhaust brake. I won't go into it's operational theory now but, suffice to say, it's seriously better than the exhaust brake primarily because it's more effective and, in just about all coaches that are equipped with it, it's adjustable, right from the drivers seat. Now, there's a couple of huge advantages in the use of either of those two auxiliary braking systems. One, there's a tremendous help in braking and or, grade descending control with the use of those.

And two, because of that extra amount of control of braking without the use of the service brake, you can double, triple and even in some cases, quadruple the service life of your service brakes. There are many, many diesel drivers out there with 100K miles on their diesel coaches, who've got many more miles left on their service brakes due to the proper use of those auxiliary braking systems.

You're certainly not going to get that on a gas equipped coach. Been there done that!

Maintenance will be a tad higher in cost on most diesels due to the fact that while the motors in many cases are not actually larger, the oil pans and amount of oil is. For instance, ours is a 19 quart oil pan. Some out there in mega-sized diesel equipped coaches are touting 40 quarts.

But, the somewhat saving grace in this situation is, most diesels require long stretches between oil changes, unlike their gas counter-parts. So, I kind-a see it as a wash, especially in my case. I could go on in pinpointing the many differences but, suffice to say, the diesel ones have many advantages.

There's a few ways to approach your dilemma. One, there's ENTRY level diesel coaches out there that will give you plenty of what I've explained are the advantages. You can go up from there, depending your requirements in niceties and other areas. Then, there's the high end gas ones too. There's no doubt about it, you can get some real nicely equipped gas coaches.

But, as many have stated over the years, in a search for quality, you can go older in a diesel and get a high end one, that's a few years old but, have a seriously nice coach. Or you can pay the same price for a lot newer gas one but, you get what you pay for. You'll have to decide what's of value here.

But, again, you're extremely limiting yourself in floor plans and good, quality coaches if you eliminate CAT equipped ones. Our present coach, an '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the C-7 330HP CAT and full body paint, that CAT engine has performed flawlessly. It starts immediately, every time and runs outstandingly.

And oh by the way, Cummins has had its share of problems too. Cracked blocks,(a certain series) bad wrist pins, fuel delivery problems in certain series versions etc. So, it's up to you. Good luck.
Scott
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Old 05-30-2015, 04:23 PM   #8
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Well Sir,
Not exactly sure why you're wanting to stay away from CAT equipped coaches but, in not only mine, but many, many others opinions too, you're limiting yourself in some mighty nice coach floor plans and quality coaches too, due to shying away from CAT equipped ones. But, you've got to do what's right for you I guess.

Diesel coaches are without a doubt, a bit more expensive on the maintenance and ownership side than their gas counter parts. But, there's a whole serious amount of reasons why too. First and foremost, they ride better due primarily to the air ride suspension. Second, the noise level in the cabin area is considerably quieter than gas units due to the engine in the rear. Many find the entry door area in a diesel (most) to be of better use of space due to more advantageous use of the middle of the coach.


There are basically two kinds of auxiliary braking systems associated with most diesel coaches. The first, a more common one, is called an EXAUST BRAKE. It operates by shutting down the exhaust system with a large valve and thus, there's no where for the engine exhaust to go so, it builds up and, therefore, slows you down. The second type, called the "COMPRESSION BRAKE" or, more commonly also known as, the "Jake Brake". (due to who originally purchased the rights to the design, "Jacobs Drill and Chuck Co"), now has become Jacobs Manufacturing Corp.

It's operation is totally different than the exhaust brake. I won't go into it's operational theory now but, suffice to say, it's seriously better than the exhaust brake primarily because it's more effective and, in just about all coaches that are equipped with it, it's adjustable, right from the drivers seat. Now, there's a couple of huge advantages in the use of either of those two auxiliary braking systems. One, there's a tremendous help in braking and or, grade descending control with the use of those.

And two, because of that extra amount of control of braking without the use of the service brake, you can double, triple and even in some cases, quadruple the service life of your service brakes. There are many, many diesel drivers out there with 100K miles on their diesel coaches, who've got many more miles left on their service brakes due to the proper use of those auxiliary braking systems.

You're certainly not going to get that on a gas equipped coach. Been there done that!

Maintenance will be a tad higher in cost on most diesels due to the fact that while the motors in many cases are not actually larger, the oil pans and amount of oil is. For instance, ours is a 19 quart oil pan. Some out there in mega-sized diesel equipped coaches are touting 40 quarts.

But, the somewhat saving grace in this situation is, most diesels require long stretches between oil changes, unlike their gas counter-parts. So, I kind-a see it as a wash, especially in my case. I could go on in pinpointing the many differences but, suffice to say, the diesel ones have many advantages.

There's a few ways to approach your dilemma. One, there's ENTRY level diesel coaches out there that will give you plenty of what I've explained are the advantages. You can go up from there, depending your requirements in niceties and other areas. Then, there's the high end gas ones too. There's no doubt about it, you can get some real nicely equipped gas coaches.

But, as many have stated over the years, in a search for quality, you can go older in a diesel and get a high end one, that's a few years old but, have a seriously nice coach. Or you can pay the same price for a lot newer gas one but, you get what you pay for. You'll have to decide what's of value here.

But, again, you're extremely limiting yourself in floor plans and good, quality coaches if you eliminate CAT equipped ones. Our present coach, an '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the C-7 330HP CAT and full body paint, that CAT engine has performed flawlessly. It starts immediately, every time and runs outstandingly.

And oh by the way, Cummins has had its share of problems too. Cracked blocks,(a certain series) bad wrist pins, fuel delivery problems in certain series versions etc. So, it's up to you. Good luck.
Scott

Hey Fire Up thank you for the great breakdown and explanations of the braking option differences. Seems like the exhaust brakes could be hard on the engines...? What about failures with those or repairs. As for as the Cat's go I'm with the understanding there aren't as many shops that will work on them and the Cat shops are extremely expensive? I am aware of the Cummins issues too to some degree and w/o looking back at old posts not sure which ones to stay away from either. That is why this process scares me a little. Okay maybe more than a little. That is why I am on here.
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Old 05-30-2015, 06:10 PM   #9
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I bought my first and last Motor Home 13+ years ago.

I wanted a Bus Chassis (Gillig) and a Country Coach Upper end model (Magna or Affinity).

We decided the floor plan fit our perceived use and needs and we bought the rig.

Cat or Cummins or Detroit engine decisions would have been further down the want list.

Today, we would like a Aqua Hot type heating system, a 400 ISL equivalent engine, and at least three slides with similar quality overall that we have now. But, we cannot define a good reason to spend the extra $100,000 to upgrade our ride.

Our rig has not been in a truck shop (or RV shop god forbid!) since 2006 and 48,000 miles ago. I am not a mechanic (former desk jockey) but I have learned to make repairs and do my own minor services via these forums and the internet. That keeps our average maintenance costs on the DP to less than $1,000 per year including replacement house batteries, chassis batteries, tires, paint repairs, and complete filter and fluid services.
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Old 05-30-2015, 06:29 PM   #10
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I do all my wn maintenance.

Basically, its standard vehicle maintenance, oil, filters, etc.

We did all PMs right after we bought it (newtome) to ensure all maintenance was up to date. This will be our biggest opertion expense, but shouldn't happen again for 70,000 miles.

Plugs, connectors ($80)
oil and filter ($30)
Gas and air filter ($25)
Brake pads all around ($75)
Tranny flush ($40)

Yor number one cost will be fuel, plan on 40 cents a mile
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Old 05-30-2015, 06:42 PM   #11
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I think you've been misled about Cat-power service or expense. Both Freightliner and Spartan have used Cat engines in the past, so their shops all service them. As do nearly all independent diesel service shops. Further, few repairs are going to be strictly engine (basically the block, pistons & fuel injection). The cooling, fuel delivery, exhaust, alternator, a/c compressor, etc. all come from the chassis builder, not the engine company.

My DP with a 370 hp ISL Cummins and Allison 3000 tranny gets an oil change every year and a new fuel filter too. That's 7 gallons of oil, a $35 oil filter and a $30 fuel filter. The air dryer gets a new cartridge every 3 years, but it's $125 if I do it myself and double that for a shop. The engine air filter gets changed about every 3 years and that's another $125 or so (not all diesel air filters are that expensive, though). I've never changed my tranny fluid, but I get it tested every year since it was 6 years old. That runs $30/year. The tranny filters get changed every three years too, about $170 at a shop. The engine coolant lasts about 5 years and may need some coolant additives in between.

Some of these things would pertain to a gas engine too, but generally are less expensive.
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Old 05-30-2015, 07:33 PM   #12
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My rig had ~52K on it when we bought it and it now has 102K.

I did not comment on engine type. When we were first looking for a DP I was more interested in Cat engines but at the time it seemed 75% of the coaches we looked at had Cummins.

I come from the mining industry and my experience was that Cat was a better choice and seemed to hold up under the most demanding conditions.

Overall the Cummins engine has performed well, no real complaints.

I try to source Fleetguard filters (Cummins) and can usually find competitive prices by shopping the internet. Buying from Cummins usually is higher and will only do if I can't source someplace else.
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Old 05-30-2015, 07:58 PM   #13
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Had a Class C with ford chassis, 460 engine. We put on about 67K miles in the 11 years we owned it. Maintenance was lube, filters, oil change. Back then they recommended oil changes every 3K so twice per year basically but relatively cheap, probably <60/year. We did loose a seal in the transmission ~$400 to fix, Both exhaust manifolds, one under warranty, ~$500. Did replace carpeting with laminate flooring, minor cost but nice upgrade. Had to replace tires 2 times since we owned but cost <$1000 per time.

Currently have Class A DP with Cummins 350 HP 8.3L ISC. 2002 Monaco Windsor a very nice coach.


We've put on ~50K miles in 6 years, I change the oil between 12-18 months depending on if we use it equally, more frequently if it was parked for long durations. It takes about 20 quarts of oil, oil filter, coolant filter, 2 fuel filters (change fuel filters 2 times per year). I watch for Valvoline Blue to go on sale at Autozone ~$14/gallong so I need $70 for oil, and the filters are about $100. So doing it myself ~$170. Changed the fluid in my transmission 1 time with new filters for ~$200, and filters for ~$50. Changed the diff oil $150.

As normal wear and tear had to change house and chassis batteries for ~$600. Also had to put all new tires on $3600.

Usually with the DP's the operating systems are more technically challenging. Since I've owned this coach I've had to change the water heater, Kwiki steps, water pump, radio 2 times, EMS circuit board, ECM for Transmission >> costing ~+$5K.

I am now battling a radiator failure that's going to cost +$6K to have repair, I'm not doing this myself (kicking myself now).

I have done some upgrades, both TV's, new flooring, upgrade LED lights, Silverleaf monitoring system.

I tend to be very proactive trying to keep the coach in good working order. Just got done fixing 3 fogged windows myself, minor cost ~$100.


Fuel cost per mile is about the same, got ~7mpg with the Class C get ~7.5-8mpg with DP but we are able to pull our jeep.

I commented to my wife this week that if the expenses do not come down we cannot afford to keep our coach, even though both of us love it. The last 3 years have been brutal with the next big potential issues being engine & transmission YIKES.

Hate to burst anyone's bubble but DP's aren't cheap, traveling in luxury costs money.
Hey if you end up needing a engine or transmission I would be stunned, that 8.3 and 3000 Allison are the bomb, batteries and the like are the same in gas or diesel, most of the items you replaced are not unique to diesels, neither are tvs, water heaters, flooring and led lights etc, same goes for fogged windows, expenses may put you out of motorhomes period, not DP's

Hate to burst your bubble, traveling in motorhomes costs money period.

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Old 05-30-2015, 08:08 PM   #14
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Moxy,
In general you are right but the DP's seem to have more complicated systems in general more bells and whistles >>> Inverters, Solar Systems, Energy Management Systems and even the controls for the water pumps

In a sense I was comparing my experience with my Class C to my Class A. In both cases I spent money to maintain but it seemed to be proportional to the cost of the coach.
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