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Old 02-18-2010, 03:34 PM   #1
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Diesel vs. Gas and towing a car

We are looking for our first rv and have it narrowed down to a
class a 32 - 36' diesel for our family of 4 so we'd like either 2
couches or bunks. I see lots of nice gas models with bunks (ideal) that are less expensive and nicer, but I guess diesel is better maintenance and will tow a car (toyota sienna 2002). Any advice of gas vs. diesel - we plan to be on the road for at least a year.
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:45 PM   #2
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I have a 39' gas pusher that has a tow capacity of 5000 pounds. Almost all gas Coaches have a tow capacity of 5000 pounds.
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:47 PM   #3
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Diesels will almost always have more torque than gas coaches. This translates to better performance on the hills and mountains, and potentially better CCC (Cargo Carrying Capacity) and GCVWR (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating). Means you potentially can load more stuff and still tow a 5000 lb toad.

Diesel maintenance is clearly more expensive than gas maintenance, but the service intervals are longer, generally 5K for gas and 10-12k for diesel.

If you are full-timing it I would choose diesel. If you are using it for 2-3 months per year then gas will be a lot less, especially when you purchase the coach (diesel will probably have a $10K price increase over gas).
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:05 PM   #4
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How do you plan on towing the Sienna?

We had a 2005 Sienna that was too wide for our tow dolly and would require $1500 in body work after every trip. The side fenders of the Sienna flare out and hit the tow dolly fenders when you make tight turns.
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:12 PM   #5
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It is true that diesels will be about $10,000 more then the same model gasser. If you look at the trade in value down the road a few years, you'll see that the trade in value is also about $10,000 more. That made my decision real easy. I went for the front end diesel vs. the gasser for my 32' Allegro Open Road. In the long run in won't cost me any more, plus I get the increase in torque for towing, the exhaust brake, better fuel mileage and an engine that is designed to last. Look at the trucking industry. Do you see many large gas trucks? Nope... there is a reason why. JMHO

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Old 02-18-2010, 05:31 PM   #6
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It is true that diesels will be about $10,000 more then the same model gasser. Dan
Just where do you find a $10k upgrade to diesel, even the Tiffin models are more like $30-40k.
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:57 PM   #7
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There are pros & cons to both diesels & gas coaches. One is not better than the other, just different & which one you will like will depend on how you plan to use it. How often are you going to be using it & how much driving are you planning on doing when you do use it? What about floorplan, interior room & storage space? Can you do your own maintenance & repairs or will you rely on dealer/chassis shop? Just the tip of the iceberg in things to consider.

If you do a search here on the topic of gas vs diesel, you'll get threads like this one where members weigh with their opinions on which they prefer & why.

Take your time & be sure you get what is best for your family & situation. It's a big investment in both money & time. Good luck.

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Old 02-18-2010, 06:00 PM   #8
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Hi sub,
Welcome to iRV2. Consider stepping back from the engine choice for a moment. Full-timing may require a bit of a different view. Floor plan sells the coach. When full-timing, you'll remember the floor plan a lot longer than the engine. In addition the weight the coach will carry and then tow will be a top priority. When you find the floor plan that suits your needs, determine how much stuff (weight) you can put into the coach. As a general guide, take the GVWR minus the unladen weight. The difference will be the weight you can load into the coach. Ideally, take the coach, with a full tank of fuel, water and propane to a truck scale and have it weighed. Now you have how much weight (you and your stuff) the coach can carry (forget about axle weight for this exercise). Then determine how much weight the coach can tow. This is usually the lesser of either the GCWR minus the GVWR or what the towing receiver will handle.

You are buying a truck. Most of the weight capacity of the automotive part of the truck is already taken with the coach and all its' appliances. Some coach manufacturers load up the coach leaving little weight left for the owner to load their belongings and some fresh water. If you are full-timing, gut feel says anything less than 5K lbs for you and your stuff will become an irritant, over time. You'll be surprised how much you and all your stuff weighs.

Once you find a selection of coaches to choose from, the engine that comes with the coach will usually do the job.
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Old 02-18-2010, 07:05 PM   #9
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Thanks all for the good info - I think we will stick with the diesel and keep looking for the perfect floorplan for us and our two girls. Hoping to find a nice bunk model in a smaller size under 36'. Now I'm wondering if we should get the big 40' really slick floorplan. We are worried about getting into campsites with the 40 versus say a 36. Any thoughts on that? Is it that much trickier with the long rvs?
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Old 02-18-2010, 07:17 PM   #10
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RvThere - we will need to figure out the towing dolly so thanks for that info about body damage. maybe we need a little run around car...or perhaps we could manage on bikes...? I am enjoying planning this all out - great website.
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Old 02-18-2010, 07:25 PM   #11
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Just where do you find a $10k upgrade to diesel, even the Tiffin models are more like $30-40k.
from a base gasser allegro, upgrade to a FRED is about $16,000 and about $70,000 to a base allegro RED. give or take a couple grand.
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Old 02-18-2010, 08:52 PM   #12
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It's just a matter of preference, gas or diesel. I just traded an older model and upgraded to a newer gas. I wouldn't trade back. I'll be the first one to admit that a diesel engine may last much longer, like maybe 500000 miles, but the 8.1 is estimated to last about 300000mi. I don't know many people who drive that much in a motorhome. By the time you get to about 200000, you will need to trade it anyway for a newer model. Last time I heard, the new epa rules bumped the cost of a diesel mh about 17500. Regarding the cost of fuel, in my area, the gas is 241,9, diesel 269.9, that just about evens things up in the cost. Diesel, four to five gallons of oil, gas 7 to 10 quarts..

It all boils down to what you like, and the floor plan.
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Old 02-18-2010, 11:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sub View Post
Hoping to find a nice bunk model in a smaller size under 36'.
Winnebago Adventurer, Fleetwood Bounder are 2 diesels I know of w/bunks that are in that 36ft target. There may be others, but I don't know if you'll find them under 36ft.

If you need the room, go for the longer coach. You won't be sorry & you will probably find more floorplans with bunks as you get closer to that length. Don't let not fitting into a site be what deters you from the bigger coach. There are plenty of places out there that will fit "big rigs".

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Old 02-19-2010, 07:29 AM   #14
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Now I could be wrong, but I think a Diesel engine is the only one that gives you the "engine brake" or Jake brake.. My father owned two gassers when I was younger and on two different occasions he had problems with brakes over heating and going out when descending high mountains (Utah, Arizona), had he had a diesel he would not have had that problem because the engine brake would have carried most of the braking load. But that was 15 years ago, things may have changed.
Good luck and enjoy whatever purchase you make.
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