Class A Motorhome Engine Types –
Diesel Pusher? FRED? Gasser?
Class A motorhomes can have different types of engines that are either placed in the front or the rear of the coach. Manufactured motorhomes give buyers a choice of diesel engines in the rear called a diesel pusher, a diesel in the front that is a Front End Diesel (FRED) or a gasoline powered engine (gasser) in the front. Each have different advantages. Here is what we have learned so far:
Gasoline engines are less expensive than diesel engines. They are most commonly built on a truck chassis with leaf spring suspension and Ford is the most common engine used. The coaches generally are lighter weight and carry and tow less than most diesel-powered motorhomes. Because of the weight capacity difference, few gasoline powered coaches have washer/dryer units and typically have linoleum for hard flooring and not tile. On the other hand there are many floor plans available with prices for new units well under $100,000.
Diesel Pusher (RED – Rear Engine Diesel)
Having a diesel engine in the back allows for a quieter ride up front making it easier to carry a conversation even when going over mountains. Diesel engines have greater torque and run at a lower RPM than a gasser. This allows the engine to go farther between servicing and up to 5 times the mileage (500,000 miles) before typical engine overhaul. It also allows for greater weight capacity and better performance in general – especially through the mountains. Diesels also generally offer better fuel economy although the price of diesel is higher than gasoline. In addition diesel engines typically use exhaust back-pressure or air-braking to aid braking and have air ride suspension systems (air bags) that means less sway in high wind conditions or when freight trucks pass.
The conventional wisdom is that for motorhome lengths that are greater than 36′, diesel is the only way to go.
With all the great features of a diesel, what’s the drawback? First – the initial cost of a diesel-powered coach is more than a gasser. However recently there have been some smaller (36′ or less) diesel pushers selling for under $150,000 new. Secondly maintenance is more expensive (but less frequent) than a gasser; and it is usually easier to find a gasoline engine mechanic than a diesel mechanic.
FRED (FRont End Diesel)
As the name suggests, FREDs have the engine in front. Generally they do not have air suspension or air brakes and have less carrying capacity than diesel pushers – an important consideration for full-timer RVers. Some report that engine noise is less than a gasser, but more than a diesel pusher. Because the coach is still a rear-drive unit the drive shaft occupies a fair amount of space down the length of the basement.
Ok, that’s it for tonight… While we have not made this decision yet – we are leaning towards a diesel pusher. Any suggestions?