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10 Things You Should Do Before You Fuel Up Your RV


RV at gas station - feature image for tips on how to fuel up
Consider these tips before you fuel up your RV. Photo: Shutterstock

How To Save Money (And Time) While Fueling Up Your RV

Gas isn’t cheap, and RVs aren’t exactly the most fuel-efficient vehicles. To help you save on gas and get the most out of every gallon, there are a few things you should do before you fuel up.

Let’s take a look at 10 things you should do before fueling up your RV.

1. Know your route ahead of time 

Before you even turn the key in your ignition, you should know your route ahead of time. 

Planning ahead of time will let you pick the most efficient route so you can save on gas. It keeps you from getting lost and wandering about, which can be especially risky when gas is low. Pre-planning can also help you avoid heavy traffic. 

Knowing your route will also help you know when and where to gas up, especially with the help of the RV LIFE Trip Wizard and the RV LIFE App.

2. Use RV LIFE Trip Wizard to find RV-friendly gas stations 

RV LIFE Trip Wizard is your best friend when it comes to finding gas stations. Simply plug in your route and the details of your RV, and the Trip Wizard will show you all the gas stations along the way. Even better, it will use the details of your RV to calculate exactly when you’ll need to stop for gas!

The RV LIFE Trip Wizard
RV LIFE Trip Wizard is the number one tool for planning RV road trips

3. Keep your size in mind 

RVs come in lots of shapes and sizes, and some are harder to fuel up than others. While a Class B RV can use pretty much any gas station, if you have a large Class A or fifth wheel, you’ll find yourself a bit more limited. 

Some RVers prefer to stick to truck stops over typical gas stations, especially those with a larger or harder-to-maneuver RV. Truck stops are built to accommodate big rigs, meaning they’ll have plenty of space for you to move, plus staff who are used to helping customers in large vehicles. 

4. Check GasBuddy to find the best prices

Gas prices can vary wildly from gas station to gas station, so finding the best gas prices can help you save a lot of money. But driving around hunting for low prices can cost so much gas that it defeats any savings you might get. 

Thankfully, there’s a better solution: GasBuddy. GasBuddy is a website and app that tracks gas prices all around the country and automatically shows you the best prices near you. 

5. Check your weight

While it might be tempting to pack every little thing you need into your RV, that extra weight can have a big impact on your fuel economy. Every extra 100 pounds on your RV drops your fuel economy by 1%

Before you head out, look for anything you can take out of your RV to reduce your weight. It’s a good idea to empty out your holding tanks to cut down on weight as well. 

6. Check your tire pressure

Low tire pressure means reduced fuel economy, and low-pressure tires can drop your fuel economy by as much as 10%! And that’s not to mention worse handling and a greater risk of tires blowing out. 

Before you fuel up, make sure to fill your tires up to the specified pressure. Most gas stations have air pumps to help you do just that, and your RV will thank you for it. 

A close up of the tire on an RV
Keeping your tires in good shape will maximize your fuel economy

7. Make sure you’re up-to-date on maintenance

Besides your tires, you should also check your other maintenance items in your RV before fueling up. This won’t just improve your fuel economy, but it will also make your RV safer and help it last longer. 

Make sure your oil is topped up and doesn’t need changing, and check your other engine fluids as well. If you do find something that needs to be topped up, replaced, or repaired, many gas stations will be able to sell you what you need. 

Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.

8. Pay in cash

Did you know that the price displayed on many gas station signs is actually a cash-only price? In fact, if you pay with a card at many gas stations, you’ll find yourself paying as much as 10 cents extra per gallon due to extra fees! 

To get the most gas you can out of every dollar, head inside and prepay with cash. It might take a little longer than paying at the pump, but your wallet will thank you. 

A gas station price sign showing “cash price” at the bottom
Paying in cash can help you save when you fuel up your RV

9. Don’t wait until your gas light comes on

When your gas light comes on, it might already be too late. If you find yourself in a rural area with low fuel, you might find yourself calling AAA or another service to tow you back to civilization. 

Instead, try to fuel up when you’re at around a quarter tank. This gives you a buffer in case anything goes wrong, such as a gas station being unexpectedly closed.

10. Get your rewards card ready

Most major gas stations offer rewards cards. These rewards cards will earn you cashback, discounts, and more just by fueling up your RV. To maximize your rewards, try to stick to one or two brands of gas stations when you fuel up. 

Get more tips on fueling up your RV

Gas is one of the biggest expenses for any RVer, but by following these tips before you fuel up, you can maximize your fuel economy and minimize your spending. 

One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.

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3 thoughts on “10 Things You Should Do Before You Fuel Up Your RV

  1. May I suggest refueling at 1/2 a tank?
    Reasoning: Many of the Class A coaches will not run a generator on a 1/4 tank of fuel.

  2. Even with cash discounts or fuel rewards, /t is sometimes cheaper to use a credit card that gives cash back. My Costco / citi bank credit card gives me 4% back. at over $5./gal. that’s 20 cents per gallon. Sometimes I can Double up using a grocery store rewards and using my credit card!

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