What is a “Diesel Pusher” Motor Home?

If you finally take that leap and set out to buy a motor home, odds are, you’re probably going to have to choose between a diesel-powered motor home and a gas powered motor home.

You’re also going to want to learn everything you can about the two different types of powered motorhomes before you make the purchase.

So, what is a diesel pusher motor home? A diesel pusher motor home is a motor home (usually a Class A or other big motor home) with a diesel powered engine in the back of the motor home hence diesel pusher.

Now that you know what a diesel pusher motor home is, you probably still have a few questions. For the remainder of the article, I’m going to go more in depth about what exactly qualifies a diesel pusher (you know, besides the whole “diesel” part) and the differences between diesel-powered motorhomes and gasoline-powered motorhomes.

I’ll also go over the pros and cons of owning and driving a diesel pusher motor home, and tell you what the heck a diesel puller motor home is.

Diesel Pusher Motor Homes

The most obvious difference between diesel pusher motorhomes and other motorhomes is the fact that they are powered by diesel engines. This means that when you pull into a truck stop to refuel your motor home, you finally get to push that big, tempting, green button on the pump you’ve been wanting to push your whole life. 

Diesel pusher motor homes specifically have the engine located in the back of the motor home. 

A lot of people prefer to have the engine in the back of the motor home because it takes some of the noise away from the already loud cockpit at the front of the motor home where the driver and the passenger are likely trying to hold some semblance of a conversation.

If the engine is in the back of the motor home, that means that the generator and the air conditioning are in the front. This can be nice because most of the private bedrooms in large, diesel-powered motorhomes are located in the rear of the motor home.

So when you are trying to sleep and the air is on, the generator (and therefore all of the noise) is going to be way far away from you up at the front of the motorhome.

Differences Between Diesel-Powered and Gasoline-Powered Engines

Engines that are powered by oil work by way of combustion. They will compress the fuel, ignite it, and use that force to power the vehicle.

Most engines are four-stroke cycle engines. This means that the pistons in the engine (the parts that move up and down) have to go through four different strokes to complete the cycle. That amounts to moving up twice and being pushed down twice.

When the pistons move, their movement moves other parts of the engine, and in a nutshell, that is how your engine powers your vehicle.

The first stroke of the piston is when the piston is forced down when a combination of air and fuel is pushed into the space.

The second stroke is a move upwards as the piston compresses the mixture of air and fuel. There is then a spark and the mixture is ignited.

The third stroke is a move downward as the piston is forced back from the force of the ignition (or combustion, see where it gets its name now?).

The fourth and final stroke is a move back up as the piston forces the remaining exhaust of the burnt out mixture out from the chamber. The whole process is then repeated.

Those are the basics of how an engine works. Most gasoline-powered engines work this way.

For diesel-powered engines, there is no mixture of air and fuel at the very beginning. Instead, pure air is pushed into that space and then compressed. After the air is compressed and heated (as a byproduct of the pressure), the fuel (diesel) is then injected at a steady, measured rate until it ignites. The rest is the same.

The Pros and Cons of Getting a Diesel Pusher Motor Home

Pros of a Diesel Motor Home

Engines that are powered by diesel typically get better gas mileage than engines that are powered by gasoline. While gasoline-powered engines typically only get four to six miles to the gallon, diesel-powered engines get closer to eight to fourteen miles to the gallon.

Diesel engines have twice the life span of gasoline engines. It runs at a much lower RPM than a gasoline engine so it can take a lot more strain. This means you can ride around for longer and service the vehicle less. There is less of a chance of breakdowns right in the middle of the adventure of a lifetime.

With the engine in the back, the cockpit is much quieter during the drive. And with the generator and air conditioner in the front, the rear private bedroom is much quieter when you are trying to sleep. Diesel engines, in addition to being quieter, also deliver a much smoother ride.

Another pro to having the engine in the back of the motor home is the extra power and torque you get when going up hills and towing additional vehicles behind the motor home during travel.

You can add up to 10,000 pounds of additional towing (depending on the motor home, of course).

Diesel pusher motorhomes use air brakes. This means that you don’t have any brake fluid to worry about and you get more power when it comes to stopping your ginormous motor home vehicle.

Cons of a Diesel Motor Home

Diesel motorhomes usually end up costing more than gasoline motorhomes at purchase (think six figures). It costs more to service a diesel engine and the price of diesel fuel is much higher than that of premium, leaded, or unleaded gasoline.

The motorhomes that have diesel engines are typically so big that when you do have to have them serviced, you have to take them to a truck servicing station because they are too big to fit inside of a normal vehicle servicing station.

Speaking of size, diesel motorhomes are also harder to maneuver around. You no longer have access to off the track paths and fun trails. Although, if you are driving an RV that big, I doubt you have bush waking on your agenda.

If you are an eco-warrior, you might pause when buying or driving a diesel pusher motor home because diesel puts out more pollutants when driven.

Diesel engines, because they rely on the heat of combustion instead of an actual spark, are harder to start up in the winter and cold weather. 

Diesel Puller Motor Homes

Diesel puller motorhomes are really just the opposite of diesel pusher motorhomes. Diesel puller motorhomes have the engine located in the front of the motor home while diesel pusher motorhomes have the engine located in the back of the motor home.

Both diesel puller motorhomes and diesel pusher motorhomes have engines that run on diesel. That does not change even if the engine is located in the front of the motor home or in the back of the motor home.

The easiest way to think of it and help you remember the difference is by picturing a hand cart. You know, like the ones that the pioneers used to cross the plains in the 1800s. The people at the front of the hand cart are pulling the cart, right? And the people at the back of the hand cart are pushing the cart.

The same thing goes for the engines in these motorhomes. If the engine is located in the front of the motor home, it is a puller. If the engine is located in the back of the motor home, it is a pusher.

Because the engine in diesel puller motorhomes is in the front, the generator and air conditioner are located in the back of the motor home.

This can make the cockpit of the motor home noisier during the drive because all the driver will be able to hear is the hum (alright, growl) of the engine.

This can also make sleeping harder as well. The bedroom in your motor home is most likely located in the rear, where the generator and air conditioner are.

This means that at night when you’re not driving and would like the air and lights on, all of that noise is going to be right underneath your bed.

Related Questions

How much does a Class A RV cost? The price of a Class A RV can be anywhere from $50,000 dollars to $200,000 dollars depending on the size, the make, and the company.

What is a Class A RV? A “Class A” RV is an RV that can be anywhere from 20 feet to 45 feet. They look a lot like a bus, are completely motorized, and are pretty luxurious. 

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