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Old 10-04-2018, 10:45 AM   #1
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Truth on Diesels Maintenance

Ok there is another thread running on this Forum with the old, old comparison gas vs. diesel. I chimed in on that thread, but I thought I would add a separate question on diesel rigs only and the truth to the high maintenance costs often brought up by the gas rig crowd. I have a gas rig now, looking to upgrade and DW and I are considering the move to diesel. However, the maintenance and repair stories are a somewhat scary for them. What is the "truth" on diesel expense, engine and drive train not the house?
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Old 10-04-2018, 10:58 AM   #2
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You're about to get a whole bunch of opinions. You are probably a lot better off going to the power train garage here and reading what's there.
Ask yourself what you would do if you had to make a $20,000 repair. That may be the best answer.
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Old 10-04-2018, 11:13 AM   #3
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It's more expensive. Relatively speaking, it's a lot more expensive.

An oil change for a gas unit is 5-7 quarts of oil and a $7 filter. My diesel coach takes 23 quarts and a $35 filter. Relatively speaking that's a big difference.

The air filter for my pickup is $20 and the one for the motor home is over $100. Again, that's a big difference.

You change the fuel filter on a gas truck every 5 years or so and it cost $10. I replace two fuel filters each year on my diesel coach and they cost close to $90 for both. Again relatively speaking, it's really expensive for the diesel motor.

All in all I probably average $500 a year for parts for routine maintenance and I do it myself.

That seems expensive until you think that a tank of fuel costs me about $325 and I can go about 800 miles on it. Motor homes, regardless of engine type, aren't cheap to own.
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Old 10-04-2018, 11:21 AM   #4
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A properly maintained diesel should outlast a gas motor. The cost of maintenance is higher, but not by that much. If you have a major failure then the cost is higher with a diesel than a gas. One of things you should look at is the way you are going to use the coach. If you are going to drive it one way to a winter place and sit for six months, then drive back to where you started and sit for 6 months, then a gas motor powered MH is probably the best way to go. If you are going to tour the country then a diesel is the better way to go. IMO We came from a gas coach and went to diesel when we upgraded, so far it has been the best decision for us.
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Old 10-04-2018, 11:36 AM   #5
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Don't forget about DEF on DEF engines. As far as longevity it depends on the diesel manufacturer and engine model. there are several Cummings owners of particular models that have had bad valves and total engine destruction outside of warranty. Comparable replacement of a gas engine is around 8K the diesel replacements run up to 30K. Here is a recent thread and it seems to possibly affect newer engines as well. One poster listed some of the other models.Cummins ISX broken valve in #6

Make sure you have a mech picked out prior to purchase. I had almost done the deal on a 1994 CC and had my diesel mech look at it and after discussing the cost of maintenance of I diesel and the short trips we are taking now I would be better off with a gasser for the time being.

He is still my mechanic and took the time to rub it in that had I had a diesel I wouldn't have had to replace all 4 of my calipers recently.

I am not a diesel hater. I love the sound of a diesel idling. In fact there are hours of youtube videos of diesel engines being started up. Dont ask me how I know.
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Old 10-04-2018, 11:50 AM   #6
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In reality, you can probably drive to some quick lube locations and get the oil, air filter and fuel filter changed on a Ford gasser for $150-$200, including the labor. The oil and air filter change on a diesel will cost you over $200.00, just for parts. You add in the two fuel filters and the air dryer and you're looking at another $150.00 in parts.

With that said, discussing costs between the two is really a moot point. If you need the space, weight carrying and towing ability of a diesel pusher, you'll have to deal with the expenses of owning one. If you don't need a diesel pusher, than a gasser will be fine. If you like having the biggest and the best, than paying the extra costs to maintain a diesel shouldn't be a consideration.

So...if you buy what you need/want, the cost of service shouldn't impact you. If you just have to have a DP, than the be prepared for the additional costs. I save money on my DP by doing my own work. I could afford to someone else do the work, but I would probably have to cut back on a lot of other things, including travel.
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Old 10-04-2018, 12:40 PM   #7
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I have had my DP for 2years now. The first service I had done at Massey Diesel in Phoenix. $550for the motor and $200 for the genny. I just had the 2nd service done at La Mesa RV in Phoenix. $585 for both the motor and genny. That included oil, filter, fuel filter and water filter on motor and oil and filter on genny.
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Old 10-04-2018, 12:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barmcd View Post
It's more expensive. Relatively speaking, it's a lot more expensive.

An oil change for a gas unit is 5-7 quarts of oil and a $7 filter. My diesel coach takes 23 quarts and a $35 filter. Relatively speaking that's a big difference.

The air filter for my pickup is $20 and the one for the motor home is over $100. Again, that's a big difference.

You change the fuel filter on a gas truck every 5 years or so and it cost $10. I replace two fuel filters each year on my diesel coach and they cost close to $90 for both. Again relatively speaking, it's really expensive for the diesel motor.

All in all I probably average $500 a year for parts for routine maintenance and I do it myself.

That seems expensive until you think that a tank of fuel costs me about $325 and I can go about 800 miles on it. Motor homes, regardless of engine type, aren't cheap to own.
Our coach takes 11 gallons of oil (44 qts), change oil once a year( or every 15k miles , which ever occurs first) (as opposed to every 3k to 5k miles in a gas engine) and 6 qts oil for the (water cooled diesel)generator every 500 hrs.
For all filters (oil, fuel,coolant) runs $145. ie: Main engine, Aquahot & diesel generator.....as I said once a year.
The larger the coach, the more complex they are and this equates to more maintenance costs all around.


Our coach has 200 gal fuel tanks, so We have an optimum 1,000 to 1300 mile range (with 1/4 tank remaining).


This said..YOUR budget dictates what RV configuration will suit you the best.

(for reference... research our manufacturer)
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Old 10-04-2018, 12:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barmcd View Post
It's more expensive. Relatively speaking, it's a lot more expensive.

An oil change for a gas unit is 5-7 quarts of oil and a $7 filter. My diesel coach takes 23 quarts and a $35 filter. Relatively speaking that's a big difference.

The air filter for my pickup is $20 and the one for the motor home is over $100. Again, that's a big difference.

You change the fuel filter on a gas truck every 5 years or so and it cost $10. I replace two fuel filters each year on my diesel coach and they cost close to $90 for both. Again relatively speaking, it's really expensive for the diesel motor.

All in all I probably average $500 a year for parts for routine maintenance and I do it myself.

That seems expensive until you think that a tank of fuel costs me about $325 and I can go about 800 miles on it. Motor homes, regardless of engine type, aren't cheap to own.
$325/$3.75 = 86.66 gallons
800/86.66 = 9.23 mpg

That's good
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Old 10-04-2018, 12:56 PM   #10
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Over a 5 year period I have spent $3725.96 on engine and chassis maintenance. This includes 42,874 miles driven. 1 full transmission service. 1 coolant replacement. 1 air filter replacement. 1 alignment. 5 engine oil & filter changes. 5 fuel filter & water separator replacements. 5 generator oil & filter changes. That equals $745.19 per year average spent on engine and chassis maintenance.
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Old 10-04-2018, 01:04 PM   #11
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Ask yourself what you would do if you had to make a $20,000 repair. That may be the best answer.

I respectfully disagree as it's getting close to making a decision based on the worst-case scenario that is unlikely to happen vs general reality. It's akin to asking if you would fly in a plane that you knew was going to crash vs asking if you would fly in an airplane in general.


It's a great question/answer, perhaps, if you're thinking about the value of an extended warranty/insurance contract (not to start the debate here on those!)


To the OP: Yes, diesel maintenance is more expensive. More fluids, bigger filters, more "stuff" like air-systems, HD transmissions, etc. But it is NOTHING to be afraid of, especially if you can physically do it yourself. And you don't need to be a diesel mechanic to do the vast majority of it. If you can change your own oil and various filters, perform lubrications, etc. on a car, you can do it on a diesel pusher and save a ton over having a shop do it for you. I'm the farthest thing from being a mechanic, but I do almost all of the maintenance on my DP myself...in fact, being an "office sissy" most of the time, I think it's kind of fun to get under the RV and learn about the systems and do my own maintenance.
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Old 10-04-2018, 01:06 PM   #12
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Generally gas engines are lower cost to buy, operate, maintain, and will run +200k miles if properly maintained and not abused. If cost and being practical is not a issue, a diesel can provide more power and torque along with a million miles if you want to go that far.
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Old 10-04-2018, 01:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
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$325/$3.75 = 86.66 gallons
800/86.66 = 9.23 mpg

That's good
I don't know where your buying your fuel but mine is nowhere near that expensive.

In 5 years I have bought 5231.8 gallons and paid $15025.21 for fuel. That equals $2.87 per gallon with an average 8.19 miles per gallon.
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Old 10-04-2018, 01:14 PM   #14
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https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/
US diesel average: $3.31 / gallon.

Gasoline: $2.87.

Yup, owning a diesel is more expensive. And?
Do you need it, want it, can afford it? Done deal.
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