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Old 12-04-2014, 06:12 AM   #1
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Yearly Maintenance Costs of Diesel vs Gas??

As the Tampa RV Supershow is getting close I am going back and forth on what to upgrade to. I have a good idea what I can get a new gas motorhome for. I also know what my yearly maintenance costs will be on this gas rig being I change the air filter and oil/filters myself.

But I am also open to an used diesel rig if the price is right. Then I start thinking about how much the diesel rig will cost per year to maintain. Our yearly travels will be between 5000 to 7000 per year. I know absolutely nothing about a diesel rig, so I do not know what has to be maintained. I keep reading about a lot of other filters besides the air and oil filters. What would be a good estimate of how much I would spend on the yearly maintenance if done by someone else? There is a Freightliner service center not far from me which I assume would do the work on the engine also.
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:04 AM   #2
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Yearly Service

Yearly service for our coach is about $350.00. That includes: complete engine service fluids/filters/BIG air filter and chassis lube. I service my own 10K diesel Onan because it is easy.
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:19 AM   #3
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While the difference in cost between diesel vs gas is not insignificant, it is probably small compared to the other costs associated with travelling 5-7k miles per year. Lot of discussion on the site but the issues tend to revolve around total cost, travel habits, depreciation, weight/towing limits, and comfort. Suspect newer gas coaches are getting very close to diesels in comfort, floorplans, and reliability--historically this wasnt the case. There is a lot of bias on this issue--gasser's love their rigs as much as the diesel guys love theirs. Suggest you set the "cost of maint." issue aside for the moment and look at the other pro's and con's to make your decision....good luck....
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:37 AM   #4
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Another annual cost to factor in is fuel price. We just traveled 1600 miles from NH to FL in our gas rig. We stopped at Flying J's and noticed diesel fuel was $.50 to $1.00 per gallon more than gas. A new gas rig will be a Ford and will get 6-8 mpg. I use 7 mpg for planning. I don't know what a diesel MH gets, but it probably isn't significantly better.
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:43 AM   #5
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I'm facing similar confusion. I drove a new Winn gas 33 and Winn diesel 34 - the ride was the same, including over rough roads, but more quiet in the diesel. Looking over the brochure on the Ford F-53 since 2009/2010 the list of upgrades included to the suspension was pretty amazing and they do characterize it as a super duty class A chassis...not to say there are still gas suspension upgrades that can be done by an owner, but to say yes, the gap has narrowed.

However, the advice that others and books provided me, that the best value is in a used diesel still seem to hold true, especially since I don't plan to buy new. I plan to buy with cash and no loan, and have a $10 to 20k fund for verification of good condition, upgrades, catch up maintenance and diy changes.

Understanding the lack of quality control on what is out there new, though not in every case, inspires me to avoid new and the headaches that often flow with new rigs.

To put a real point to it, at least for me, saving $50 to $175K buys a lot of maintenance, diesel or gas, insurance and on the road expenses...if fun is what I'm after and extended trips in the rv.

Having searched for used rigs for the mfg of my choice, the longer rigs are more available on the market, but this 2015 should start to see expanded choices for me. Time seems to be on my side as we head into spring and maybe more so the following spring.

Choice, as of today, tends to push me, for that mgr, into longer diesel or shorter gas, but not definitively either way.

If you are worried about maintenance, which seems kind of a piddling issue to me on the whole, I think your focus on buying new is worth reconsidering. But, I have put a lot of time during the past year into reading a lot of threads on a couple of forums, book and articles, and arguing (so to speak) with owners.

It takes time to find a used rig - quicker to go to a show, I need to know a lot about evaluating water damage, rust damage, and engine/suspension/brakes/tires/electrical/plumbing etc, as well as the need for pros to confirm and dig deeper, to reduce my chances of buying a poorly maintained rig and/or one with hidden problems that may be expensive to resolve.
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:47 AM   #6
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Hi reubenray,
I agree to set aside the decision as to which fuel powers the coach. For me, I am an advocate of the fuel is the result of much more important coach requirements. First consider:
1. floor plan
2. will the coach carry all your stuff and people? (GVWR-UWR=NCC)
3. will the coach tow what you want to tow? (GCWR-GVWR) Also check the hitch rating.
Once these three items are satisfied, one can make the decision as complicated as one wants to make it. As you determine which coaches pass this inspection, the gas vs. diesel question will be answered for you.

For Newmar coaches, diesel powered coaches come with Comfort Drive and air ride suspension. Gas powered coaches do not have these features.
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Old 12-04-2014, 08:07 AM   #7
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What's kind of interesting, the cost discussions on an issue such as this, often bypass the big bucks lost to depreciation and loan interest vs the smaller and more controllable costs like fuel and maintenance. Such is the fixation on new and the availability of a monthly payment, which often overrides balanced cost justifications, so that's why I kind of sit back in amazement.
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Old 12-04-2014, 08:13 AM   #8
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Gotta love your closing argument GaryKD, but you didn't mention at a much higher cost if buying new.
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Old 12-04-2014, 08:30 AM   #9
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It could be argued that annual PM costs probably don't equal one month's worth of depreciation.

Just about every other cost of owning a MH exceeds maintenance costs.
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:08 AM   #10
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Several things drive DP maintenance costs up higher than gas rigs. The large diesel crankcase is one - big coach diesels usually take 18-28 quarts of oil, depending on engine size. Then there are the two large fuel filters, one of which is also a water separator. And a huge air filter, cause diesels suck tremendous amounts of air. Plus a DP chassis usually has some other things that need routine maintenance, e.g. a hydraulic system, air system dryer, and coolant additives. All in all, it can add up to a substantial number.

If it was just the engine type, for example and Front engine diesel (FRED) vs a front engine gas that are otherwise essentially the same chassis, the diesel maintenance cost is not all that much greater.
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:22 AM   #11
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The main reason I am concerned with the costs is I am retired and I have a fixed budget. I can factor in what it cost for a gasser yearly maintenance, but with a diesel I have not idea. If I could get a diesel for about $10,000+ less that a new gasser than that may make if feasible.

Just for the record I have no issues with my ride or noise level with my current gasser. I want to make sure this is our last MH to buy. We have estimated that we will most likely use it between 10 to 15 years before we decide to settle down and quit traveling.

The floorplan and weight/storage capacities are the first things I look at. I am a retired carpenter with a lot audio/video knowledge so I can make a lot of modifications on a used diesel if necessary.
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:33 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reubenray View Post
The main reason I am concerned with the costs is I am retired and I have a fixed budget. I can factor in what it cost for a gasser yearly maintenance, but with a diesel I have not idea. If I could get a diesel for about $10,000+ less that a new gasser than that may make if feasible.

Just for the record I have no issues with my ride or noise level with my current gasser. I want to make sure this is our last MH to buy. We have estimated that we will most likely use it between 10 to 15 years before we decide to settle down and quit traveling.

The floorplan and weight/storage capacities are the first things I look at. I am a retired carpenter with a lot audio/video knowledge so I can make a lot of modifications on a used diesel if necessary.
You said earlier you service your gasser. Then you can service a DP.
Usually one more filter a lot more oil and a bigger air cleaner. With the mileage you say you will travel that is a once a year service. Remember it is not in heavy service like a semi truck. If you find a side radiator rig that fits your floor plan needs you will find it MUCH easier to work on. A few year old DP would be a good choice. Google used RV's for sale and see whats out there. Good luck.
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reubenray View Post
The main reason I am concerned with the costs is I am retired and I have a fixed budget. I can factor in what it cost for a gasser yearly maintenance, but with a diesel I have not idea. If I could get a diesel for about $10,000+ less that a new gasser than that may make if feasible.

Just for the record I have no issues with my ride or noise level with my current gasser. I want to make sure this is our last MH to buy. We have estimated that we will most likely use it between 10 to 15 years before we decide to settle down and quit traveling.

The floorplan and weight/storage capacities are the first things I look at. I am a retired carpenter with a lot audio/video knowledge so I can make a lot of modifications on a used diesel if necessary.
Routine service can be done at speedco for ~$300. That does not include air dryer, $40-$140, or hydraulic system, $50-100, depending on what oil is used. The hydraulics are used for power steering and maybe engine fan operation. Sleeved engine require Heavy Duty coolant and testing.

The fuel choice for the engine should be driven by your amenity requirements. For example, do you need to tow 10-15k? Is air leveling a requirement? Do you need a more than 38' for the room? Is Aqua-Hot a requirement? If you answer no to these, then a gas MH will work just fine.

Personally, I like the power delivery of a diesel. It is a different animal, however, thermo cycles on the turbo, fueling stops and air brakes all require a learning curve. Non-routine maintenance can be $$$$ if not operated differently than a gas engine. For example, I read where the biggest reason for diesel engine problems in RV's was for lack of cooling system maintenance.
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:32 PM   #14
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Routine service can be done at speedco for ~$300. That does not include air dryer, $40-$140, or hydraulic system, $50-100, depending on what oil is used. The hydraulics are used for power steering and maybe engine fan operation. Sleeved engine require Heavy Duty coolant and testing.

The fuel choice for the engine should be driven by your amenity requirements. For example, do you need to tow 10-15k? Is air leveling a requirement? Do you need a more than 38' for the room? Is Aqua-Hot a requirement? If you answer no to these, then a gas MH will work just fine.

Personally, I like the power delivery of a diesel. It is a different animal, however, thermo cycles on the turbo, fueling stops and air brakes all require a learning curve. Non-routine maintenance can be $$$$ if not operated differently than a gas engine. For example, I read where the biggest reason for diesel engine problems in RV's was for lack of cooling system maintenance.
Surprisingly my answers to all of your questions was "NO". We spend a lot more time camping instead of driving so having a air leveling system is not required. Our current toad weight is less than 4,000 pounds. The gasser's I am looking are between 37 and 40 feet long. I rather use an electric heater or heat pump instead of a furnace or Aqua-Hot.
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