Which Is Better Diesel or Gas (Petrol) Motorhome?

Selecting a motorhome can be tricky, especially with the number of models on the market. One of the first steps is narrowing down if you want a diesel or gas motorhome, but which one is better?

A diesel motorhome is better if you plan on RVing in the mountains or somewhere that needs more torque. They’re also typically higher quality than similarly priced gas/petrol options. A petrol motorhome is best if you’re on a budget or don’t plan to use your RV often.

In the rest of this article, I will discuss the main differences between diesel and gas motorhomes and some of their benefits and drawbacks. So if you want to learn which motorhome type is best for you, read on.

I have owned both a gasoline and a diesel motorhome although both of my RVs have been of smaller models under 3,500kg in total weight and under 6 meters and at these sizes petrol is abit more common than larger models and we will get to why, currently i own a diesel motorhome.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Diesel Motorhomes

Diesel engines differ significantly from their gas counterparts. Naturally, the primary difference between the two is their fuel source, with one using petrol and the other using diesel.

However, the mechanism of action is also slightly different. The entire point of the engine is to burn fuel. This produces heat energy which is converted for the vehicle to move.

Gas engines attain this by compressing air and fuel into a chamber which is then ignited by a spark plug. On the other hand, diesel engines compress to a much higher pressure than gas engines.

This compression ratio allows the mixture of diesel and air to combust spontaneously without needing a spark plug. However, this means diesel engines typically require a much denser, more expensive build since they have to withstand this compression.

This quick lesson on engines and fuel sources might seem unnecessary, but it’s important to properly understand this basis since it ties into almost all the pros and cons of each type of motorhome.

So what are some more benefits of driving a diesel motorhome? 

Benefits of Diesel Motorhomes

Diesel motorhomes are extremely popular. Their powerful engines have earned a fantastic reputation amongst many RV lifers and the trucking industry at large.

Some of the potential benefits of driving a diesel motorhome include the following:

  • Longer lifespan  
  • Larger fuel tank 
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Lower carbon dioxide emissions
  • Higher engine power
  • Better resale value

Diesel engines are incredibly effective and strong, making them the perfect choice for those who enjoy regular travel. That said, diesel-engine motorhomes aren’t for everyone, so let’s take a deeper look at these potential benefits. 

Longer Lifespan 

Because diesel engines degrade much slower than regular gas ones, they have a longer lifespan. Typically, a well-cared-for diesel engine can run over 1,000,000-1,500,000 miles (1,609,344-2,414,016 km) before requiring heavy maintenance. 

The mechanism of combustion is particularly important here. Diesel, which uses only compression to burn fuel, requires a much stronger engine build as this process can be quite taxing for the engine. 

As a result, diesel engines are much stronger than their gas counterparts. In exchange, they’re also much more expensive.

Larger Fuel Tank 

Another benefit of owning a diesel motorhome is the large fuel tank. A larger fuel tank requires fewer refills and will last longer on the road. This is a massive benefit if you plan on traveling over long distances, rough terrain, or simply want to camp somewhere in the wilderness. 

Fuel Efficiency 

Diesel engines offer far better fuel efficiency as they produce more energy per mile (km). Typically a large diesel motorhome will get around 8-14 mpg (3-6 km/L), which is quite a few miles (km) more than your typical gas engine. 

In addition, diesel typically contains 12-16% more energy per gallon (km/L) than regular gas fuel.

Less Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Diesel engines release less carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that greatly harms the environment.

However, this isn’t entirely positive. While they produce much less carbon dioxide, they also produce a higher percentage of harmful nitrogen compounds and are suspected to be carcinogenic

Using biodiesel fuel is a great way to minimize some of these adverse effects.

High-Powered Engine

The power of a diesel engine is unparalleled. They are more powerful, can run longer, and harder than gas engines. This is primarily due to diesel’s higher energy output and how the diesel engine works.

As a result, these engines are the most common options for heavy-duty vehicles, which is why most tractors, trucks, and tankers run on diesel. If you want an engine that can really haul, diesel is the only way to go.

So when it comes to larger class A motorhomes it is more common with diesel engines but when it comes to smaller vans, class B or C motorhomes you will have more options that run on gasoline but also diesel so there is something for everyone no matter the class.

Better Resale Value 

Diesel motorhomes have a much higher resale value because they degrade much less than gas engines over similar time frames and have a much higher power output.

If eventually reselling your motorhome is a major consideration for you, diesel will always be the better option. Buying a diesel motorhome also has much less risk associated with it. 

Since diesel engines hold up so well over time, you’re much more likely to get your money’s worth buying a used diesel motorhome than a gas motorhome.

Drawbacks of Diesel Motorhomes

Though there are many pros to owning a diesel motorhome, there are also a few drawbacks. It’s essential that you know both sides of the coin to make an informed decision. Similar to its benefits, many of the potential downsides of a diesel motorhome are also related to its engine.

Potential drawbacks of owning a diesel motorhome:

  • More expensive initial cost. Because diesel homes are known for their ability to haul larger loads and last longer, they often cost more, especially a new rig.  
  • Higher fuel cost. Diesel fuel costs slightly more than regular gasoline, so you will pay more to fill up. Additionally, a lot of diesel tanks are larger, so it will take a good chunk of money to fill the tank. 
  • Slower acceleration speeds. Diesel engines are strong, but they are better at going slow and steady than reaching breakneck speeds. They will do an excellent job of hauling a massive load up a hill but struggle to reach the speeds that gas-powered engines will on straight roads.
  • Toxic emissions. Although diesel engines tend to emit less carbon dioxide, they still give off toxic fumes that can cause health problems with regular exposure.  
  • Must be properly winterized. Diesel fuel tends to freeze easier, leading to problems with the engine running. When the fuel freezes, a wax-like gel often blocks up important filters, which can ruin the engine. 

The biggest drawback of owning a diesel RV is the overall cost of purchasing and maintaining one. Diesel motorhomes have a higher purchase cost, and the fuel is often more expensive than regular gas. 

Although diesel engines will require less frequent maintenance than gas engines, the cost of maintenance will be significantly more.

That said, some of these costs are mitigable by purchasing a used diesel motorhome. Because diesel engines retain their value and degrade slower, purchasing a used diesel RV can be a great way to save some money. 

A new diesel motorhome typically costs between $250,000 – $600,000, but you can get a used one for as low as $69,000. 

However, it’s essential to weigh your options when buying used and to find a rig that has been well maintained. You certainly get what you pay for, so do your homework before pulling the trigger on such a large purchase. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Gas (Petrol) Motorhomes

In the picture above you can see my first motorhome from 1989 that ran on gasoline and i got that beauty for just 5000 USD!

Gas motorhomes can be a good choice, especially if cost is a huge concern. While diesel is the much more popular option, it can be prohibitively expensive or simply might not be the best choice for you.

So what are some of the benefits of having a gas motorhome? 

Benefits of Gas Motorhomes

Here are some of the benefits of purchasing a gas motorhome:

  • Affordability
  • Greater fuel availability
  • Cold weather resistance
  • Faster acceleration
  • Quieter ride

For many gas RV owners, the cost is by far the determining factor. These motorhomes cost less to buy and sometimes to maintain. However, while cost is a major point, it’s still important to understand and assess each benefit to make an informed decision.


The biggest draw to a gas-engine motorhome is its affordability. Since gas engines have a shorter lifespan and are cheaper to build than diesel ones, they are typically much cheaper to buy. 

Plus, since they have lower resale value, you can easily pick up a used one for a fraction of the cost of buying one new. 

Typically you can purchase a new gas motorhome for around $50,000 – $200,000 and a used one for as low as $20,000. 

Still, you get what you pay for, so always do your homework on a used rig. Verify that the RV is working as it should. If you can spare it, pay a trusted mechanic to give it a look over before purchase. 

It’s much better to lose the consultation fee and get a good RV for cheaper than market value than to skip this step and end up with a vehicle you have to resell within a year.

Greater Fuel Availability

Depending on where you stay, getting enough diesel to fuel your RV can be difficult. Petrol is far more common, making gas motorhomes a better option if diesel is limited where you live.

Your next fuel stop won’t always be predictable, and with a gas-engine RV, you won’t have to worry about this as much. 

Diesel is also less available even in gas stations where it’s sold, and it is usually limited to less active pumps than gas. This means you’ll sometimes have to queue longer than you’re used to when you need to refuel.

Faster Acceleration 

While diesel engines tend to provide a higher torque which is suitable for traveling over difficult terrain and hauling huge loads, they accelerate much slower than gas engines.

Gas is much thinner than diesel which allows the engine to burn it much faster. The better your engine can burn fuel, the faster it can push your car. 

Being able to accelerate quickly on highways is extremely beneficial if you intend to travel a lot. However, it’s important to note that they may struggle more on large hills than a diesel motorhome designed to pull heavy items in difficult terrain. 

Quieter Ride 

Gas motorhomes are typically quieter since their engines don’t need to compress fuel as much to run. This means you won’t have to worry about talking over the roar of your engine or waking sleeping children.

Drawbacks of Gas Motorhomes

These are some of the potential cons of owning a gas motorhome:

  • The engine degrades more quickly. The type of fuel used, the lower durability of gas-powered cars, and the combustion mechanism all reduce the effective life of gas engines.
  • Less hauling power. Gas engines are great at accelerating quickly, but they struggle to pull large loads since they don’t have as much power or torque. 
  • Poorer resale value. Because gas engines tend to degrade faster and aren’t as efficient at hauling heavy loads, many people don’t want to buy one used. 
  • Higher carbon emission. Petrol has a much higher carbon footprint than diesel per gallon.
  • Worse gas mileage. Gas contains less energy per gallon, so you’ll have to fill up more often, especially when hauling an RV. 

Diesel vs. Gas Motorhomes: Which Is Better?

So after all those comparisons, which motorhome is better, gas or diesel? The clear winner is the diesel motorhome. These motorhomes are much more fuel efficient, last longer, and have a much higher resale value. 

However, gas motorhomes are still a good option for those who are only traveling short distances in their RV and don’t need to haul heavy equipment along with them. 

Plus, the start-up costs for getting into a gas motorhome are much lower. So, although diesel motorhomes are better in the long run, a gas motorhome could be a better choice for you.


Ultimately, both motorhome types have redeeming qualities and will do the trick for your travel adventure. For example, a gas engine might be preferable if you travel less and need a cheaper start on an RV life.

Still, if you want the best motorhome available, a diesel option will almost always be your best bet. 


Rikard Adamsson

Hello! My name is Rikard Adamsson; I am the creator of Motorhomeking.com. I live full-time in my motorhome, and right now, I am traveling through Europe the right way, without campsites; yes, wild camping and being off the grid works excellent even in a real beauty from 1996. I have done a lot of rebuilding and upgrades. I am happy to share my experiences with everything regarding motorhomes, RVs, or caravans with you here at motorhomeking.com.

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