Monday, February 6, 2023


Husband runs out of gas in RV looking for cheapest price

RV Shrink

Dear RV Shrink:
Maybe you can shed some light on my husband’s gas problem. He is obsessed with buying the cheapest gas available and twice now our motorhome has run out of gas because he thinks it’s going to be cheaper around the next bend.

He has three or four websites he is always checking for gas price postings and they are never accurate when we reach the supposedly cheapest stations. It ruins our travel time, preoccupies our leisure time, and in the end doesn’t save us any, or little, money.

Please help me get his head screwed back on straight so I can relieve his gas symptoms and move us on to more enjoyable adventures. —Gas Pressure in Peoria

Dear Gas Pressure:
This is a common symptom among RVers. The truth of the matter is that the websites your husband is monitoring are not always accurate. They are supposedly based on the latest credit card data collected from each station, but there is lag time and even in this day of instant internet data collection this pricing can be old and stale. What it will often show your husband is the cheapest station. As gas fluctuates in price the cheapest station is often still the cheapest station.

You can make your husband aware that he is not saving money by letting his tanks go empty. Besides the danger and inconvenience of running out of gas, he is also at risk of his fuel pump clogging up. This can be an expensive fix as the pumps are most often in the tank.

If life were fair we could all buy gasoline futures at the pump. When we were happy with the price we could buy a thousand gallons at that price just like any other commodity. One way to help elevate his gas pressure would be to invest in some energy stocks. At least when gas prices go up, so will these investments. Most pay a hefty dividend.

If you buy enough oil stock you can buy your husband a ten-gallon, Texan sized, cowboy hat and he can pretend he’s a Getty trust fund baby while he fills his tank. Playing out this fantasy could solve your problem and put you on track for those more enjoyable adventures you are dreaming about.

In the meantime, I’m sure our savvy and cost-conscious readers will weigh in on their favorite and least-favorite gasoline apps and/or stations. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

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3 years ago

It’s OK to go for the lowest price gas. His problem is not accurately judging how much fuel / distance he has left to do so. Work on that skill.

Vanessa Simmons
3 years ago

I tow a trailer…rarely get below half a tank since I don’t know what is around the next bend…sitting in traffic in a crowded city (which I try to avoid) or road construction for an hour or more. Driving through the desert on back roads where the “next service 152 miles” and you left the last town 20 miles back.
My pet peeve is cash price being flashed to find out that it is 10 cents more for credit! I usually use cash unless at Flying J with Good Sam card and my 4% cash back Costco card.

3 years ago

I use the Gas Buddy app, which gets its data from users reporting prices and it shows how long it’s been since the last reporting. Also if you get the Gas Buddy card linked to your bank account you automatically save at least 5 cents per gallon up to $75 per day. If you report prices and do your online shopping through them you can save a lot more!

Deborah Mason
3 years ago

Based on fuel tank size and MPG, a few cents cheaper may not be cheaper at all. In our toad (Honda Fit) even a 20 cent difference can’t make more than $2 a tank difference. In the motorhome, at 7MPG a few cents cheaper several miles further on might be a net loss. We try to never go below quarter tank in case the next station is difficult or impossible – with a 32′ rig towing a car and the gas filler on the back wall, we can’t use most convenience stores since we’d have to sweep through the store customers’ cars to get out.

3 years ago

I totally agreed with other responders that the most important thing is access. I too have fuel tank in back so have to pull all the way thru to fill. I don’t let my tanks get to low either because you never know whats ahead. I find prices don’t vary a lot within state lines but between states as related to the gas taxes. If I know one state is high I try to fill up before entering. Trying to save a few cents and risk all the problems that can happen makes no sense!!

3 years ago

I feel that looking for cheap gas is a waste of time. Normally only save cents rather than dollars. Trying to get better mileage on the next tank is sort of fun.

3 years ago

We always started looking to fill up when half empty – psychologically seems cheaper then. If you can afford an RV then you can afford the gas. When I plan trips I always go high on the gas budget just in case and always feel good when it is cheaper than my high budgeted price.

As others said, getting in and out easy is more important than the price. I remember stopping at places that advertise ‘rv friendly’ only to find they are not. Ones with mini-marts where you pull in with the store in front are usually not RV friendly. Our MH tank is in the back, so to fill up we have to pull up farther which means there is not enough room to swing around to exit if any cars are parked in front of the store. We once saw a pickup and 5th wheel at an RV pump – stuck. Pulling out it was a right angle which he did not have enough room without taking the gas pump out. I felt sorry for him and have no idea how he ever got out.

3 years ago

My advice: Change the fuel filter(s) twice as often, if you’re using cheapest sources for your RV fuel ups. And you’re nuts for letting your fuel run so low.

Ron Lane
3 years ago

With a 45′ motor home and a 18′ toad, my fuel priorities are easy in and easy out. I will gladly pay an extra 20 cents a gallon for this convenience.

Ralph Pinney
3 years ago

When traveling long distances we look for RV friendly fuel stops in hopes of saving some $$ by avoiding the truck stop prices, but when we need fuel, I won’t chase down a 2 cent savings. FIlling with 20 gallons (I don’t let it get below 1/4) would be 40 cents.
Get the savings cards from the major truck stop chains will help.

3 years ago

The lady didn’t say what size RV, how many gallons or type of fuel but even if the difference is 20 cents a gallon on 50 gallons, is it worth saving $10 for the hassle of running out completely?!! Fuel is the cheapest part of a vehicle operation equation overall. Yes, I know how much it costs to fill up a fuel tank but still much less than an oil change, a brake job or an engine overhaul! I try to never allow my gauge to get less than half for a myriad of reasons, one of which is to take a break and “shake it out” if nothing else.

3 years ago
Reply to  BigBoy11

Where in the world do you get your oil changed? It only costs me $50-$60 at the Ford dealerships to get my oil changed, but with an 80 gallon tank it costs significantly more to fill up. We only drive far enough to use between $100-$120 worth of fuel per day.

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