Regardless of brand, current gas engines are incredibly capable with power output specs near diesel numbers from two decades ago. For many towable RVers, gas-powered truck are viable options.
If you have considered the additional power and fuel economy of a diesel engine and determined that a gasoline engine will work for you, welcome to the club. We tow our Montana High Country 335BH, about 15k pounds loaded, using our 2021 Ford F-350 Superduty with the 7.3L Godzilla gas engine.
Whether you have a towable RV or a motorhome, one of the big advantages of a diesel power plant is the ability to use the semi-truck lanes at truck stops. These lanes are wide with plenty of space to pull in and out.
Gas pumps are often covered by a canopy that is __hopefully__ tall enough for your rig. You are also competing with impatient crossover drivers with no sympathy for how challenging it is to maneuver your rig.
This one doesn’t apply to motorhomes
Don’t fill up with your trailer attached. With most problems, I find it best to just avoid them. If you are pulling a trailer, plan your drive so you can arrive at your destination with a single tank of fuel. You can then fill up with just your truck.
Our F-350 gets about 7 miles per gallon and has a 34 gallon tank for an approximate range of 238 miles. That comes out to around 4 hours of highway driving. Adding stops at rest areas plus the time it takes to teardown and setup, I count that as a full travel day. If you get the long bed Superduty, a 48 gallon tank is an option with 336 miles of range.
No matter where we are, we find there tends to be someplace new and exciting within 200 miles of us. Keeping our travel days under 200 miles rarely feels limiting. We like to keep 40 miles of fuel in reserve as (unexpected conditions can reduce range)[Link 1k miles video], including rain, wind, and traffic.
If we do feel the need to travel further, sometimes we break the trip into multiple days, allowing us to take a break and fill up unhitched. While KOA Holiday is for longer stays, the KOA Journey locations cater to short stays and are usually near highways. Another fun option for one night stays is Harvest Host.
This one probably looks like a paid promotion, but it isn’t. (However, if you work at Flying J and want to send me some gas cards, I won’t be offended)
Flying J’s are the only gas stations I know of with gas lanes designed for RVs. These lanes are easy to pull into and are placed outside the canopy.
Not all Pilot locations are Flying Js, and not all Flying J locations have RV lanes. We once pulled off at a Flying J that we hadn’t previous scoped out. I followed the RV sign and end up in a cramped lot without RV lanes. Even as regular gas stations go, this lot was tight. I did not end up getting gas and barely made it out.
When planning your drive, pull up your route in Google Maps. Then hit the “More” button to search along the route. Enter “Flying J” and see what locations appear. Now, turn to your travel partners and in your best CSI voice, say “Zoom and enhance”. Use the satellite view to check out the station to verify the existence of RV lanes.
Side note: RVing takes you to a lot of new places. The Google Maps satellite view is a powerful tool for scouting out gas stations, campgrounds and other new areas.
How tall is your rig? If you don’t know, find out and tape it to your dash. Our fifth wheel is 13’4”.
Standard semi truck trailers are 13’6” tall and the highways systems are generally built around that height as a minimum. Along expressways and some major highways, gas station canopies are usually tall enough for a fifth wheel. Sometimes, the height will be labeled along the edge. The older the station is and the further from the highway you get, the more careful you need to be.
GOAL (Get Out And Look) applies as much to gas station canopies as it does campsites. If you are unsure, put your rig in park and go for a walk. Climb up the ladder if you have to. The station owners don’t want you to hit the canopy either. Smile and wave to anyone you are blocking. If they can’t spare a little time for you to be cautious, its their issue not yours.
RVs are very popular in Texas, as are other towables like boats and ATVs. Most gas stations near highways have very tall canopies and spacious lots. If you see a Buc’ees, Road Ranger, Love’s, or Duke’s, you’ll probably be able to get fueled up without issue.
This is probably the worst of all options, only applies to trailers, and one I save for emergencies. I’ve only done it once.
At a truck stop, park in a spot at the back of the truck parking area. Chock and unhitch your trailer. Its probably a good idea to leave one of your travel mates with the RV, my wife in my case. Now you can swing around front and fill up without your trailer.
At 30 pounds per 5 gallon tank, I suppose you could carry gas back and forth to your rig, but its going to be a real pain. Do your best to make sure you never ever and up at #5.
Fueling up in a gas rig is harder than with diesel, at least along the highways. Harder doesn’t mean hard though. With a little planning and practice, traveling with a gas rig is just another surmountable challenge. We’ve been doing it for a couple years now and I don’t see us stopping anytime soon.
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