Planning to hit the highway with your fifth wheeler but can’t choose between gas and diesel trucks? If yes, that’s some real problem you have got there.
It is necessary to consider all the aspects of a tow truck beforehand for a regret-free journey. If you are new to RVs or trucks, it can be challenging to pick the right vehicle for your needs.
Although both gas and diesel trucks can tow our fifth wheel, there are other factors you need to see as well, such as fuel economy, running cost, tow capacity, and off-road capability.
But, it’s not as hard as it sounds.
In this Gas vs Diesel article, I will break down all the positives and negatives of each option.
Now, let’s answer the million-dollar question: Gas vs. Diesel trucks, which is better for towing a fifth-wheel?
Table of Contents
What is a Fifth-Wheel?
To put things into context, here’s a quick introduction to fifth-wheels and what they have to offer.
Fifth-wheel is a type of RV that you can tow behind a pickup truck. This way, you don’t have to buy an entire house with wheels. It is a truly luxurious towable RV with all the necessary amenities and features.
These RVs are strong, massive, and utterly magnificent. If you have never towed an RV behind your truck before, then a fifth-wheel might surprise you for all the right reasons.
Fifth-wheels are designed to take on the road, without any compromise on stability and handling. As they are heavy-duty, they require more powerful trucks for towing than other RVs.
Gas Vs. Diesel Trucks: Which is Better for Towing a Fifth-Wheel?
If you want to go straight for the strong-built truck, a one-ton diesel truck with an 8ft long bed will do the job.
But don’t get me wrong. Although the truck is an ideal option, it won’t necessarily fit every driver’s needs.
Here’s another way to look at it.
Let’s assume you are an average family guy who will be using the truck every year for summer adventures. In this case, the right vehicle for you might not be ideal for a daily driver who uses the fifth-wheel for full-time living.
So, without further delay, let’s jump right into the major factors that make all the difference when towing a fifth-wheeler.
It’s no surprise that diesel trucks are superior to gas trucks when it comes to withstanding heavyweight for longer distances. Diesel trucks can mostly outperform in mileage and efficiency as compared to gas trucks.
However, the new and advanced turbocharged gas engines have improved the towing power of the gas trucks. Gas is also less expensive per gallon as compared to diesel.
Thus, there is no significant difference in the fuel efficiency of the trucks. Yet, there is still the factor of mileage that gives diesel the upper hand. The superior fuel economy of diesel trucks will save you money in the long run.
These trucks also have large torque outputs, which makes them an excellent option for towing heavy fifth-wheels without burning a ton of fuel.
If you have a larger budget for your truck, you can take advantage of the better fuel economy of the diesel engines. But, if you won’t be burning much fuel with a light fifth-wheel, going for a gas truck will be a wise decision.
We have sorted out the total expenses of gas and diesel trucks so you can get a better view of things.
At first glance, diesel trucks will be more expensive than their gasoline counterpart. Let me say this straight: gas trucks have fewer upfront costs.
So, if you want to invest a limited amount of money on the truck and use it less frequently, a gas truck will fit your budget.
Besides, you can use the saved dollars to get a luxury 5th wheeler if you are an RV enthusiast.
On the other hand, diesel trucks are far more expensive than gasoline trucks on the grounds of heavy-duty engine parts such as turbocharger and high-pressure injection pumps. They also have tough auxiliary stuff like larger radiators and generators.
However, the prices have considerably risen in the past decade with the advanced engine technology.
The higher initial cost of the diesel truck might be hard to digest at first. Even its maintenance rate is high as well. But, there is more to it. You only need to think about the maintenance once in a blue moon
Although gas costs less at the pump, diesel trucks have proven to be more economical in the long term.
If you are towing your fifth-wheeler over longer distances for extended periods, a diesel truck will save you a lot of money. This means you can compensate for the high initial cost in the end. A win-win situation.
These trucks also offer a smoother drive without showing any problems for years. On top of that, if you want to sell your diesel truck later on, you will get a higher resale price than a gas truck.
And one more thing: You can save even more money if you change the fuel filter and the engine oil yourself.
Will you tow your fifth-wheel inside the city or on mountain ranges? The towing capacity of each truck will primarily affect your final choice.
A gasoline truck can easily pull a fifth-wheel inside a city. But, if we are talking about long highway routes or rugged terrains, a diesel truck is the best option.
Diesel trucks have a higher torque output, which is better for towing heavyweight RVs such as the enormous fifth-wheels.
Now, I’m not suggesting that gas trucks can’t withstand heavyweights. A gas truck is perfectly capable of towing a fifth-wheeler. However, the diesel counterpart wins in the matter of duration by a wide margin.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing between a gas and diesel truck is your fifth wheel’s weight. A 3/4 ton gas truck can tow a half-ton towable fifth-wheeler with no trouble.
But the thing is, if you tow the same fifth-wheeler with a 3/4 ton diesel truck, you won’t even feel you’re tugging something at the back.
The bottom line is, if your fifth-wheel is light, a gas truck will be a wise choice. If it’s heavier, a diesel truck will be your best bet.
This is where diesel trucks fall behind from their gas counterparts. The load capacity of diesel trucks can bum you out.
There’s no doubt that diesel trucks can pull big fifth-wheel trailers, yet they have a slightly lesser load capacity than gas trucks.
A 3/4 ton truck will tow a fifth-wheel without a hitch, but you cannot load much stuff in it. The power of the diesel engine will make hauling more comfortable. But if you want to carry a lot of things in the truck, the lighter engine of a one-ton gas truck will offer a higher payload.
The highways are designed to allow smooth drives, but nature isn’t. If you want your truck to dominate over rugged terrains, a gas truck won’t do the trick.
Gas trucks provide more acceleration, which makes them suitable for the freeway. But if you are heading for rough, mountainous terrains, you can always rely on diesel trucks.
Although gas trucks have a better towing capacity, they repeatedly downshift on steeper routes, resulting in less acceleration.
Alternatively, diesel trucks have more torque, which means they can take on mountainous routes without downshifting. Most diesel engines also have exhaust brakes, which give you more control over the vehicle.
You will be grateful for this additional braking method when your truck is going down steep routes or crawling in traffic. The other brake system will also reduce the pressure on the primary brakes, thus reducing the wear and tear in them.
Having said that, if you want to stay on the smooth roads and tow your fifth-vehicle for occasional camping, buying a gas truck will be the right call. On open roads, these trucks will tow the trailer without trouble.
Let’s have a quick recap of the discussion above so you can get a clear picture before deciding between gas and diesel trucks for towing a fifth-wheel.
The best way to pick the right truck is to consider the following factors:
- Fuel economy
- Total expenses
- Towing capacity
- Load capability
- Off-road capability
If you own a heavyweight fifth-wheel for towing over long routes, a diesel truck will work great for you. Diesel will also be more economical for commercial towing if you are ready to pay the initial high cost.
Otherwise, you don’t have to spend thousands of extra dollars on diesel trucks. A gas truck is fully capable of towing a fifth-wheel across shorter distances without compromising on comfort.
In a nutshell, diesel trucks can tame the mountains even with hefty fifth-wheelers towing behind them, but that is not the end of the story. Gas trucks can easily manage your every-six-month trips with the fifth-wheel while costing less.
Here’s to road adventures.