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How To Improve My Towing MPG, | RV Safety Tips and Tricks
How To Improve Your Towing MPG

How To Improve Your Towing MPG

Anyone who tows an RV, for any length of time, knows that getting the most out of our fuel can be challenging at the best of times and with the high prices of fuel these days it has become an even bigger challenge. So, how can I improve my towing MPG?

Trailers and automobiles come in various sizes,  and weights, as do motor homes, and other factors like wind and hills all contribute to higher MPG than we would like.   But if you keep these tips in mind, while selecting the right vehicle, or the vehicle you have now, driving it can still be fun and economical at the same time.

As I said before, camping trailers and Fifth wheels come in various sizes and shapes. Some camping trailers are low profile and have pop-up tops to increase space, and tent trailers have to be opened up and the ends pulled out.

Then there are the small trailers, called “Tear Drop” that are round in the front and taper to a blunt point in the back.

These trailers are low profile and have less wind resistance height, which could help increase MPG, as opposed to the higher and longer travel trailers.  This one is specially made so that the roof raises for extra headroom.

There are some trailers, out there, that are made of fiberglasses like the Escape and others like Airstream Trailers that are made from aluminum.  These trailers have rounded edges and corners which make them more streamlined so the air moves around them better. Some box like trailers, and some fifth wheels, now have fiberglass or plastic bulbous fronts on them to cut down on wind resistance.

 Another model I’ve seen has a vertical V-shaped front end that I’m sure cuts through the air like a knife.    It’s also important to note that the more fancy and self-contained your unit is, the heavier it will be also and will contribute to a greater fuel consumption.  Converted vans that come with or without some form of bubble top, will get reasonable MPG when driven at reasonable speeds.     Depending on how big the engine and how one drives it is possible to get as much as 15 MPG and these vehicles offer most of the conveniences of a large motor home without the extra weight and a little less storage.


Here are a few more tips to consider no matter what your motor home or trailer situation might be as I think they apply in one way, or another, to all of the trailers mentioned.
  • Make sure all tires are inflated to the proper PSI.  It’s a good idea to check them before you leave and again before you leave the campsite.  You sure wouldn’t want this to happen because of improper tire pressure.  Check the treads and sidewalls for cracks, bulges, and wear.  
  • Make sure they all balanced and the brakes aren’t dragging. The slightest bit of drag will cause your engine to work harder and, over the long haul, your MPG will suffer.
  • Check all your fluid levels, especially your transmission and engine oils, and make sure you have the correct type of fluid.      Also, make sure the transmission shifts properly.
  • When was the last time you had your engine tuned?     Check the fluids and replace the air filter if need be.
  • Make sure the fresh water and waste water tanks are empty when traveling.   Water weighs over 8 lbs. a gallon.  35 gallon tank = 280 lbs. for one tank,  most trailers have 3 tanks and some tanks are quite a bit bigger.    That’s a lot of weight to be dragging down the highway when you’re trying to save fuel.
  • Don’t carry a lot of extra items like food in the refrigerator or extra gear that you really won’t need.
  • Last but not least, check your driving habits.    You will save fuel by driving a little slower, trying to avoid idling your engine and using less of the lower gears in your transmission:  higher revs means more fuel consumption.

Wind Deflectors

Another way to reduce wind resistance is to install a “Truck Roof Wind Deflector”.   Theytruck roof wind deflectors come in various sizes and shapes.  They are even available for cars as well.  If you don’t have a deflector, air goes over the truck and hits the bulkhead of the trailer and also traps air in the box of the truck, thus increasing the drag as you drive along the highway.  

With a “Deflector”  the air is directed up, over and around the trailer, which reduces resistance, improves mileage as well as wear and tear on the trailer.


I hope these tips are useful to you and if you have any comments or want to leave a tip of your own, feel free to do so at the bottom of this page.

Happy Camping everyone and stay safe.

6 thoughts on “How To Improve Your Towing MPG

  1. Hi Wayne,
    Great info here! There are a few things I didn’t think of when I ventured out in my RV the last time, like checking tire pressure and I didn’t know water was so heavy. I think it seems a lot heavier when you carry it by hand in a bucket as opposed to the RV carrying it in a tank. The last trip I made was a long weekend without water hookup, so I emptied out the grey and black tanks and filled the drinking water one.
    What do you think of putting together a checklist for both winter and summer preparing, as well as long vs short trip preparation (I’d be interested in this as a signup bonus – hint).
    Last summer, I replaced most of my roof sealant and I’m wondering how many times you would do it (eg once a year, 3 years, etc). You probably have a climate close to mine so maintenance would be on about the same schedule.
    Oh, by the way, I’m a few miles across the border from you in Langley, BC, which is close to Vancouver.
    I’m looking forward to more chatting and ideas.
    Kind Regards,

    1. Thanks for the comments Michael and definitely some great topics that I will consider for future posts. As you now know, our climates are identical so, as far as the roof sealant goes, I think it’s always a good idea to at least do a good inspection every 6 months to a year. I think that would apply to all areas where there is sealant used like moldings around side panels, door frames and windows, pretty much anywhere where water could be a threat.

      Hope this is helpful,

      PS. Good idea to travel with empty black and grey water tanks but I agree that when you are somewhere where there is no water hook up, it’s a good idea to have fresh water in your fresh tank.

  2. Nice article and good tips for any type of road travel. I did not know that trailers are made from fiberglass. I thought the material used to make the trailers was aluminum. Are RVs outer skin made of fiberglass as well? Thanks for the information.

    1. Thanks for the feed back Billy, and you just gave me an idea for another post. And yes, some travel trailers and fifth wheels are actually made with a mold made of two halves. They put layers of fiberglass and resin together in these molds, wait for them to cure, pull them out, then put them together with a chassis and build out the inside with what the customer wants. There is a company close to where I live that makes them this way. Happy trails.

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