Fifth wheels are similar like RVs except that they are not a vehicle standing on all wheels. They commute by being attached to the back of a pickup vehicle.
It is like towing a trailer with all the necessary amenities and qualities of an RV (without the wheels). Their construction is robust so that you can easily tow them on the road.
They are highly stable and not at all dangerous. These are heavy vehicles that need a substantial truck or vehicle to haul them.
If you plan a camping trip with friends and wonder whether you should consider gas or diesel for towing the fifth wheel, you need something more than just a coin toss.
If you are new to this field, there is a lot that you need to know about the performance of fifth wheels in different conditions.
Several aspects contribute to this discussion. It depends on your priorities, choices, and most importantly, how much you are willing to spend on this investment (Timewise and money-wise). Let’s get down to the brass tacks.
Gas Vs Diesel For Towing A Fifth-wheel
The best option (in an ideal world) to tow a fifth wheel will be a well-constructed, solid, and ample truck with a diesel engine.
It is because diesel is more powerful than gas and is better at handling the truck.
Although this is the best choice objectively, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is perfect in all situations. Deciding between diesel and gas for towing a fifth-wheel depends on a lot of factors. Let us look at them one by one.
The choice between a gas or diesel truck is made more accurately by understanding the type of RV it needs to tow.
The diesel trucks have a higher advantage in towing heavy vehicles as they have better torque output.
It does not imply that gas trucks are not good at hauling heavy-duty vehicles. A gas vehicle can also quite easily pick up a half-ton fifth wheel.
But here’s when the difference starts- A diesel engine can effortlessly pick up greater weights, making it more durable in the long run.
So, if you plan on buying a heavy fifth-wheeler, you should opt for a diesel pickup truck as it offers better results.
This is the amount of weight you can put in the truck. Generally, diesel trucks are heavier than gasoline trucks.
It makes their payload capacity far less than their gasoline equivalents. The payload can be the passengers, cargo, and other equipment you plan on carrying.
While a ¾ ton diesel truck can tow a fifth wheel effortlessly, it cannot store a lot of weight inside it.
It makes it a wrong choice if you plan to take many passengers and cargo with you. If you have more loading weight, then a gas engine is better than a diesel one.
If we look at it from a distance, diesel trucks are more expensive than gasoline ones. The initial cost of buying a diesel truck is itself more than buying a gas truck.
It is because diesel engines have complicated and heavy-duty parts making them more expensive. These parts are turbochargers and high-pressure injection pumps.
Also, the maintenance of a diesel truck costs more than gas truck maintenance. It is because the diesel truck engine goes through more wear and tear as it does heavy work.
It also needs more oil, and the filters need to be changed regularly. Summing up all the charges, diesel engines look like the more expensive alternative.
But, if you plan on using the truck frequently, diesel might prove to be the more pocket-friendly choice. In the long run, diesel engines pay for themselves as they are more durable.
They are more comfortable and smoother to travel in. However, if you plan on just using it during the holidays, gas is the wiser choice.
Type of Terrain:
The choice also depends on the place you are thinking of taking your fifth wheel. Diesel engines run on most of the terrains smoothly.
If you are a mountain man and plan to travel on rugged terrains in your truck, diesel is a better choice. As the road gets steeper, it becomes difficult to accelerate and control a gas engine.
However, if you want to travel close to your home on smooth roads and plain terrains, gas is probably the better option. It is because, with gas engines, you can smoothly travel on straight roads at a lower cost.
If you want your ride to be smooth even on rugged terrains, diesel trucks are the way to go. These have more torque, which makes it easier to control them on steeper slopes.
Also, some of them have exhaust brakes, providing more control over the vehicle in challenging terrains.
It has the added benefit of increasing the life of primary brakes by providing additional support. Gas engines have better acceleration, but they repeatedly downshift on steeper slopes.
If you plan to use the highway to reach your destination (which is close to your home), gas engines are a better choice as they run smoothly on open roads. However, for mainly traveling on rocky, mountainous terrains, diesel engines are the way to go.
Fuel Cost to consider:
If you are standing at a pump, diesel is costlier than gas. A diesel engine also has a large oil reservoir making it a more expensive choice.
However, in the long term, diesel trucks prove to be the more economical choice. The diesel truck is more durable than a gas one if you frequently lift heavy trailers.
If you ever want to sell your truck, a diesel truck offers a better resale value than a gas truck. It is because diesel engines have a better life span than gasoline ones.
However, if you make rare travel plans and use your truck to lift lightweight fifth wheels on open and smooth roads, the gas engines turn out to be more pocket-friendly.
Is gas or diesel better for towing?
Answer: The more efficient choice in the case of towing depends on a variety of factors. These factors decide the performance of both types of engines in different scenarios. They help you make a better overall decision after inspecting all the scenarios. They are listed below:
- Towing Capacity
- Loading Capacity
- Total Expenses
- Type of Terrain
- Off-Road Capability
- Fuel Cost to consider
So, depending on your needs, preferences, and budget, you can decide which option is better. However, if you have no budget restrictions, a diesel engine is a better option that works better in most scenarios.
What is easier to tow a fifth wheel?
Answer: The answer is a diesel engine. The diesel engine has more torque output, and hence it can tow even a heavy trailer with ease.
It does not put much pressure on the truck and is better for it in the long run. It provides better durability if you are regularly towing heavy RVs.
However, it is expensive to buy and maintain a diesel truck. That is why we consider several factors before making a final decision.
Gas trucks also prove to be quite efficient if we plan to travel through straight plain roads and carry lightweight fifth wheels.
To sum up:
- Do not jump into buying a diesel engine just because it is better at lifting heavy RVs.
- List down your demands and set a budget for your purchase.
- Prioritize your needs and align them with your demands to make the perfect decision and have a “regretless” vacation.