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Old 11-05-2016, 03:00 PM   #1
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Class A gasser vs. Class A diesel maintenance costs / ease of maintenance?

We have a 2011 Fleetwood Storm with the F53 chassis (Triton V10). The wife and I are kinda sorta looking at upgrading to a small DP next year- probably a 2013-ish Fleetwood Excursion 33 or Thor Palazzo or Tiffin Allegro Breeze (but probably not, scared of MaxxForce engine) of similar size.

I've read on this forum that maintenance is going to be more expensive with the DP, and did a search on the forum about costs, which seemed to discuss more of the larger DPs, and some of the threads were a few years old.

So as far as higher maintenance costs, from what I have read, it's basically an oil change once a year, but maybe 20 quarts-ish instead of 7 quarts. The oil filters are more expensive. Air filters get changed every 2 to 3 years and those are more expensive. Still have to grease the zirks on either chassis. I've read something about air filters with the air suspension.

For the smaller DPs that I am looking at, what kind of costs are associated with the above? Is a quart of diesel oil more expensive than the Mobil 1 (for example) I use now?

The other question I have is that these DPs seem to be VERY low to the ground. How hard is it to get underneath the chassis and do an oil change or to grease the zirks or change a filter?

The Freightliner chassis inspections that I am reading about....are the inspections that they do something the owner can do easily, or are you pretty much having to send your DP to a Freightliner shop once a year?

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Old 11-05-2016, 03:38 PM   #2
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If you are handy, you can do all or most of it yourself.
Diesel oil is not synthetic so it is cheaper. A gallon of Shell Rotella at Walmart is about $13. The other supplies are more. An oil filter might be $30.
A lot of the smaller diesels have hydraulic brakes and spring suspensions.
If the coach has air suspension, it might gradually lower, or setting the jacks will cause it to dump all its air. I can easily slide under mine if I just let it sit.
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Old 11-05-2016, 03:47 PM   #3
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Diesel oil can be a synthetic, Shell Rotella 6, 5w-40 or
Mobile One turbo diesel 5w 40 are both full synthetic.
In my opinion, synthetic oil is worth the extra cost in
any engine, but even more so in a turbo-charged engine,
and even way more so in a turbo-charged diesel.
As to the original post, I have found that, on average the
cost of maintenance on a 40' DP, has been 1200.00 a year,
over 7 years. This includes everything.........but not tires
and batteries, which would be the same for either engine.
All my maintenance has been done by professionals,
not any DIY.
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Old 11-05-2016, 04:17 PM   #4
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I pretty much do all my own maintenance unless something out of the ordinary. Last year I had road debris take out my radiator, cost was +7K but insurance covered it. I did have the front wheel bearings changed to oil bath which will eliminate future costs.

I use Valvoline Blue motor oil which is what Cummins recommends. I wait until it goes on sale and usually costs ~$14/gallon, it takes 6 gallons. I buy all the filters on line and can usually get a complete set (Oil, 2 fuel filters, water filter) for ~$90. I usually by several at a time to save$$. The air dryer filter is changed every 3 years and costs ~$40. I've changed my serpentine belt 2 times and keep a spare, not a big deal.

The required maintenance isn't too if you've done it before. There are a number of zerk fittings to grease but I do a complete visual inspection while I'm under there.

I think the biggest issue with large DP's is if you have a failure of a large component. Had to change my exhaust manifold, cost me $600 but I did it myself. The ECM for the transmission failed, couldn't do that myself and it cost $3500.

Most large DP also have more complicated house systems such as the EMS system. The circuit board on my Intellitec EMS go a surge from ligthening, cost $450, I changed it myself but still expensive. I've added a surge protector since then.
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Old 11-05-2016, 04:19 PM   #5
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Class A gasser vs. Class A diesel maintenance costs / ease of maintenance?

Let me start by saying that I have never owned a Diesel engine unit. But I would also be asking myself the question of repair costs and factor them into my decision. As with any engine things will break, leak, wear, ect... IMO repairs on diesel equipment the cost of repairs can be pretty high, but I guess that may balance out over time as they have a longer life span.
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Old 11-05-2016, 04:55 PM   #6
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Yep, we had 3 gasser and now have a DP. The maintenance cost is a lot higher! If you are calculating specifics, don't forget the diesel generator.
I did all my own on the gassers no so on the dp.
1. I can't logistically deal with 25 qts of old oil vs 5-6
2. Two fuel filters for engine, one hard to get to
3. I am intimidated by the dump system...if something goes wrong you will be squashed like a bug. I don't have extra heavy jack stands
4. Air Filter last week $129, book says every two years, tech at Cummings training says no...every year, not easy change
5. Grease, see dump concern
6. I was fairly competent around gas engines, not so much with diesel.
7. Even the antifreeze is different.
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Old 11-05-2016, 06:27 PM   #7
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Guess I will put my 02 cents worth in. I have had 2 diesel pushers and 4 gassers. The diesels cost more to maintain and cost more to begin with. As far as life of the engine goes. Ask yourself this. How many miles a year will you be driving. The average is 3000 to 5000 miles a year. The F53 V-10 is pretty much bullet proof and will go over 100,000 miles if properly maintained. My first oil change on a diesel cost me over $200 compared to my gasser $69 I can work on my gasser, but never worked on the diesels that I owned. There are many 15 to 16 year old Diesels with only 25000 to 50000 miles on them. Now if you are going to be full timing and in one place for a long time or driving mostly in the mountains then a diesel might be worth it. I can buy 3 gassers for the price of one diesel pusher. I down sized about 18 months ago to a used 31 ft gasser. Could not be happier. Much less expensive to maintain, and I can do most of it myself if I care to. JMHO
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Old 11-05-2016, 08:19 PM   #8
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I went from diesel to gas and back to diesel. I also do all my own service and honestly think its about 1.5 times the cost for normal items like oil and filters but still not very expensive to maintain.

Oil and oil filters for a diesel are no more expensive but they do need more oil. I found fuel filters cost more and need changing yearly instead of ever 30,000 miles and air filters do cost more. If the cost for maintenance is a big consideration, stay with gas but diesel coaches are not expensive to maintain if you can do your own work.
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Old 11-06-2016, 12:10 AM   #9
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All through chuckftboy, thanks.......

So it sounds like if you're reasonably handy, the cost of a lot of this maintenance can be reduced if you're willing to get your hands dirty.

A question about getting underneath these DPs......As I mentioned in the 1st post they look super low to the ground. How are you (safely!) getting underneath with enough room? Do you use the rig's jacks then put jack stands underneath for safety? Does the air suspension raise the rigs high enough to get under?

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Old 11-06-2016, 12:47 AM   #10
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Palazzo low ground clearance

Originally Posted by ualdriver View Post
All through chuckftboy, thanks.......

So it sounds like if you're reasonably handy, the cost of a lot of this maintenance can be reduced if you're willing to get your hands dirty.

A question about getting underneath these DPs......As I mentioned in the 1st post they look super low to the ground. How are you (safely!) getting underneath with enough room? Do you use the rig's jacks then put jack stands underneath for safety? Does the air suspension raise the rigs high enough to get under?

Just a comment about the low ground clearance that has nothing to do with maintenance. The Palazzo was the first DP my DW & I drove. It was with a Thor factory rep at a recent RV show. As my DW pulled out of a very flat driveway, the fiberglass chin drug the ground. We promptly returned to the show & crossed the Palazzo off our list. I think part of the reason for the low ground clearance is that Thor wants a low profile coach that can be parked in a 12' high garage. Seems like a severe penalty just to have a low profile coach.
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Old 11-06-2016, 04:16 AM   #11
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Where would you get service/maintenance work done on a DP that the service center will not rip you off?
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Old 11-06-2016, 04:56 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by reubenray View Post
Where would you get service/maintenance work done on a DP that the service center will not rip you off?
If you have a Freightliner chassis.
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Old 11-06-2016, 05:18 AM   #13
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It wasn't the routine maintenance costs that concerned me to go with a gasser for my first MH but the costs of repairs especially if I purchased the wrong diesel model/engine and chassis.

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Old 11-06-2016, 06:31 AM   #14
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Like many hundreds of others...we went though this same questioning process too when we started and we ended up with a gas MH and couldn't be more happy. But I'd like to pass along a few things that we learned in our decision making process.

1) Maintenance is a lot more than oil & air filter changes and greasing the chassis. The more we read and became informed about experiences people had we their MH's it begged the question, "What is one of the many reasons people buy MH's and what is the one thing these use all the time"? Answer: The slides. Slides come in many different flavors & sizes from different manufacturers. Slides can make your MH a beautiful, large, roomy environment OR slides can be a living hell by never or hardly ever working right, having constant breakdowns of one sort or another, or being so big and under powered and improperly never know if they're going to work the next time you push the "OUT" button. Oh, and slides DO require maintenance too. There are also many different types of slide locking mechanisms. SO....we made slides one of our top priorities in choosing our MH and Thor was knocked off the list very quickly because of their Swinteck slide rail system. I won't go into all the specifics about that here, but my point is—the type of slides, how they are powered, the system they are based on, their condition etc, etc was very important to us.

2) As others have said, I too, am very mechanically inclined and have no problem working on or understanding gas engines and know what it takes to maintain them (and the entire drivetrain system) to get more mileage out of them than you'll probably ever put on it. I'm also a big believer of BG products. Understanding of Diesel power and all that's involved there...I have none. Well...maybe a teeny, weenie bit.

3) The proverbial Gas vs Diesel question and what it costs to maintain really is a much deeper and broader subject. All gas MH's have engines up front. Some diesel's are up front (usually smaller MH's), some in the back back, some have the radiator in front of the engine, some on the side. Bottom line, if you get a Diesel with a radiator that's in front of the engine (making it way more difficult to perform maintenance/repairs) expect your costs to go WAY up. Even though we decided to get a gas MH, we did spend quite a bit of time looking at & considering Diesel MH's but if we ever did purchase a Diesel MH it would be Diesel Pusher with a side radiator. PERIOD!

4) Regardless of gas or a diesel—maintenance—(which was your question) will require you to know or at the very least learn about all the various home systems you have onboard and that would include suspension systems and tires. Which by the way are BIG issues too.
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class a, diesel, gas, maintenance

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