RV Tips and Tricks

Tech Topics - March 2017

by Paul and Kerri Elders

This month, we’ll take a quick look at some diesel engine tips and see what benefits just a tiny bit of planning can yield. Let’s get going!

Diesel Engine Power Tips:  Diesel engines have been a popular choice for powering Class A motorhomes and a variety of tow vehicles, like pickup trucks, for years.  Diesels are known for exceptional ruggedness and towing power; these engines develop high torque at relatively low engine RPM’s, which translates into greater pulling power at cooler operating temperatures, producing less internal friction on engine parts.  Initially more expensive than gas models, diesels often repay their increase in outlay cost many times over in both fuel economy and in their longer engine life. They do add significantly to an RV’s weight.

Generally speaking, the proper operating RPM for a diesel engine is between 1500-2100 RPM.  This is the RPM level where the engine is most efficient and develops its optimal horsepower.  If you have a manual transmission, simply select the gear that allows your engine to run in its optimum RPM range without having to over-accelerate.  Your diesel engine will run cooler and will be more fuel efficient if you avoid putting more fuel in the engine than it can burn (a bad habit called “lugging the engine”). Learn your engine’s “sweet spot” and give it just the amount of acceleration it needs and no more.

If you’re a diesel driver, you’ve probably realized that diesel additives can help give your engine a little more power, keeping it cleaner and running smoother.  Additives like Power Service Diesel Kleen, Red Line 85 Plus, Stanadyne Performance Formula, etc., are worth exploring.  Diesel “conditioners” can also help keep a diesel engine cleaner by inhibiting microbial growth in diesel fuel.  Some additives contain algaecides and fungicides; some simply inhibit microbial growth by absorbing water.  Available products include Stabil’s Diesel Fuel Stabilizer and Valvtect BioGuard Microbiocide, among others.

If you decide to add any additive to your tank, it’s a good idea to operate the engine long enough for treated fuel to run through all the components.  That’s why it’s usually recommended that you add the additive to your tank when fueling your rig. If you’re parked long-term, its generally a good idea to start the engine on your motorhome and your generator’s engine about once a week or so. Allowing the engine to idle a few minutes will help eliminate moisture buildup in the fuel lines and will keep engine and generator parts well-lubricated and in good working order. If in storage, once a month should be adequate.

RV 123 Let’s GO!  A huge part of the joy of traveling is enjoying the moment, keeping life spontaneous and flexible.  But a wee bit of thought devoted to the TIMING of your trips can pay big dividends in keeping your travels easy-breezy with very little traffic stress.  If you need to get from Point A to Point B by way of any Major Metropolitan Area (like Dallas), think about scheduling your through-trips so you easily dodge Rush Hour traffic. Simply put, 10 AM beats 6 PM.

Nav systems can be a HUGE help in unfamiliar territory.  If your RV is equipped with a navigation system, take a few minutes to learn just what it can do for you. Many systems have voice guidance with adjustable volume controls so you can easily mute the instructions if you’re caught in heavy traffic and find it annoying OR you can turn the volume UP in case you need a little extra assistance.  Many heads-up displays will show distance to the next exit/turn and the Exit Number in an easy-to-use graphic. But you have to first learn to fully USE your system before you can make the most of its features.

Many systems can let you select routing, save common destinations, and even search by phone number or type of business (restaurants, shopping, fuel, etc.).  Lots of RVers are surprised by how many extra functions their navigation systems have that they’ve never even discovered.  Drag out the handy User’s Manual or see if your model has a built-in tutorial and familiarize yourself with these priceless Electronic Guides.  You’ll be glad you did, the next time you’re caught in a traffic jam in an unfamiliar city and want to find a quick way out!

Remember, that as a traveler fully equipped with an on-board kitchen and bathroom, you have the power of choice over whether you drive in rush hour traffic or not. If you DO get “trapped,” remember that refuge is always just a highway exit away.  If you’re stuck in the slow lane at 6PM and want to escape, just take the nearest exit, find a suitable parking spot, and make yourself a delicious sandwich.  Wait out the crowd, then resume your trip after your break. Your RV is your ticket to freedom, even in the middle of Rush Hour.  Where and when you go is up to YOU!  Happy trails, trailblazers!

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