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Old 03-28-2023, 10:52 AM   #1
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Question Drive with full water tanks or not


We will be pulling our 36' 5th wheel with our Silverado 3500HD from Coulee City to Spokane, both in Washington State, in the next couple of weeks. We are staying at Steamboat Rock State park for a few days then moving on to Riverside State Park - Bowl and Pitcher. The water will not be turned on at our campsite yet at Bowl and Pitcher so we're going to need to fill up before we arrive. We could fill our tanks at Steamboat Rock and drive 2.5 hours to our destination or fill up closer to the second park. We have never driven with full tanks and don't know how it will affect our mileage. Should we fill up before we leave or wait until we get closer to Spokane? If waiting is better, where can we get potable water?
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Old 03-28-2023, 11:06 AM   #2
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For a short drive like that, I doubt the effect on your fuel usage will be significant. I would fill the water tank wherever it is convenient.
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Old 03-28-2023, 11:23 AM   #3
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We ALWAYS travel with a FULL Fresh water tank.....ALWAYS!

Great for lunch stops/bathroom breaks AND knowing you will have water upon arrival at destination.
*Destination might not have water, might not have water on, might have water main breakage etc etc

ALWAYS travel with full fresh water tank!

Weight of full tank will have little to no effect on MPG
Wind resistance has more effect
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Old 03-28-2023, 11:40 AM   #4
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Since 50 gallons of water weighs about 400 pounds be sure to include that weight in your towing calculations though.
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Old 03-28-2023, 11:43 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Olyteddy View Post
Since 50 gallons of water weighs about 400 pounds be sure to include that weight in your towing calculations though.
So does 2 grandchildren and therr bags, are you leaving them behind.
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Old 03-28-2023, 11:45 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies. We'll be sure to leave with a full tank.
Bob & Mary Ellen
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Old 03-28-2023, 12:24 PM   #7
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Note that I am not disagreeing with the sentiment of traveling with full tanks. But not all tanks are supported as well as others and there have been some folks who traveled with full tanks who had the tank(s) fall out of the trailer while traveling. I don't know how common it is (I have never had it happen myself), but it is something to check on. Based on my own experience only, I am comfortable traveling that way, as many others are.
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Old 03-28-2023, 12:47 PM   #8
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Fivers have less of an issue than TTs. Traveling full or empty has a dramatic affect on tongue weight. Our sweet spot to get the right tongue weight is 1/2-2/3 full. Additionally on most TTs there is just a single steel bar supporting the fresh tank, connected to frame rails by tapping bolts. Bad news: we went wit full tanks to Key West in January. When we got there, the bolts on one side had fallen out, and the tank was ready to fall out. Took me a couple of hour to effect a field repair.

Opposite of OB: we will never again travel with more than 1/2 tank FW. If we need more water after we set up camp boondocking, we carry a couple of empty reliance jugs that we can fill up and top off the FWT. Empty the gray water with tote at the same time.
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Old 03-28-2023, 01:21 PM   #9
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We generally travel from RV park to RV park so we don't need full tanks, five - seven gallons will do. I have filled them from home to a RV park 200 miles away and emptied them for the trip back home and noticed little or no difference in mileage. Like someone said, head wind is the MPG killer. My whole issue with full tanks is I don't want to stress the tow vehicle or trailer any more than necessary. We also carry a water softener and use a Brita filter system for drinking, so it's all consistent.
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Old 03-28-2023, 04:08 PM   #10
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Agree, a full water tank will not likely affect gas mileage. Water weighs 8.345 lbs/U.S. gal.
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Old 03-28-2023, 06:04 PM   #11
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When we had our last trailer, an Outdoors RV, it actually handled better with full tanks. Probably had to do with the tongue weight, but it was much easier to drive that way. We always traveled with as much water as our tanks could hold, both when we had trailers and in our current MH. You never know what might happen on the road. And it is particularly handy to be filled up completely before getting close to your boondock location. Sometimes places you thought would have water get it turned off for some reason - a well pump issue, sanitization issue, pipe leaks, etc.
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Old 03-28-2023, 06:10 PM   #12
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I travel with a few days of normal usage, not full.
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Old 03-28-2023, 06:14 PM   #13
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Unless itís a case of my water is better than yours I would never travel with a full tank, 850 lbs vs 250, what I normally carry, you carry half the water so not as much weight to drag. Another thing I think about is how hard is the water weight on the tank when bouncing and sloshing. Never seen an explanation of why some rv tanks fail.
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Old 03-28-2023, 07:24 PM   #14
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It depends for us?? We have a 100 gallon tank, that's a little over 800 LBS. If all we're doing is traveling to a CG that has water, I only fill 25 gallons. I like to have some water for the road and to flush the toilet. But if going to a CG with no water we travel with 100 gallons.

Now if we are headed out from our house we like to drink our own water so it's 100 gallons.
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tank, water

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