How To Improve RV Fuel Mileage With Body Repairs And Upgrades

Whether you only take your motor home out on nice summer weekends or live full time in a Class A RV, you're still going to spend more than necessary when getting low fuel mileage. Before you invest in a brand new model to save a little more during each trip, see if you can bump your miles per gallon up with a few improvements instead. Learn more information on how a team of RV body work and collision technicians could transform your current RV into a more fuel friendly vehicle no matter what type of fuel it uses.

Air Flow Issues

The size and shape of your RV plays a big role in your real fuel mileage because of aerodynamics. When something small like a mirror, air conditioning unit, or awning cover juts out into the streams of air flowing down the sides and over the top of the motor home, drag is created and the engine has to work harder to move at the same speed.

Crumpled and Missing Parts

Front end collisions drain the MPG of an RV much faster than damage to the rear end. Prioritize repairs to the front bumper, over the cab extension, hood, and grille before worrying about side panel damage. This is because the air flows over these areas first, so drag created here builds up even more when the air encounters other parts sticking out into the wind. The more streamlined your RV was before the accident, the more you will notice the effects of damage. Teardrop trailers often start weaving and bucking while being towed when a relatively small V-shaped dent interrupts the smooth front curve. 

Once the front of the RV is looking like new again, turn to repairs for the top and underside of the vehicle next for the second biggest recovery in fuel efficiency. Loose and low hanging water or fuel tanks underneath the vehicle create a surprising amount of drag and are easily attached back into place by an experienced repair technician. Damaged air conditioning and heating units on the roof also break the air flow more than side and rear accessories.

Shapes and Weights

Many RV drivers worry about trimming weight off their camper or trailer, but a lighter vehicle won't automatically reach peak fuel efficiency. Maintaining sleek lines and a smooth shape over the body of the RV has a much bigger impact than the weight of the vehicle. It's better to invest in exterior improvements, including major changes like aftermarket hoods and complete roof redesigns, than to go through the trouble of replacing the metal frame of the RV with lightweight aluminum or dropping water tanks to shave a few hundred pounds off.

Important Upgrades

Aside from dent repairs or aftermarket body panels for your RV, you can add well-tested accessories to eke out a few more miles for each gallon of gas or diesel you pump. Try options like

  • Fluted plastic fins that speed up airflow around the edges and over wheel wells
  • Wind shields for fifth wheels that smooth the gap between the truck and the camper being towed
  • Curved plastic covers that fit over door handles, outdoor outlets, and sliding panel edges to keep these extrusions from catching air
  • Folding panels that extend behind the RV as you speed up to make a larger air pocket and reduce drag

When you can make your RV more fuel efficient just by tinkering with and repairing the exterior, you're more likely to use it regularly and get more enjoyment out of your investment. Don't forget about basic maintenance on the tires, suspension, and engine to get the biggest possible boost in miles per gallon.