Getting the Best Performance From Your Motorhome

Getting the Best Performance From Your Motorhome

When it comes to petrol and diesel engines, the petrol engine is more traditionally associated with fast cars, whereas the diesel engine has been synonymous with buses and heavy goods vehicles – and there are good reasons for this.

Petrol engines produce maximum torque at a much higher RPM (revolutions per minute) than a diesel engine, meaning in order to pull a heavy load, the petrol engine would need to keep the revs high and the gear low, increasing the stress on the engine not to mention the fuel consumption. The diesel engine, however, reaches its maximum torque at much lower revs so can therefore pull a heavier load with much less effort and without the need to change down a gear.

The diesel engine, therefore, is much smoother to drive when pulling a heavier vehicle and much more economical to run, making it perfect for your motorhome.

The downside to diesels is their reputation for being slow, heavy and noisy engines that put out a lot of smoke, but things are improving. Diesel engines are often fitted with a turbo to increase power at higher revs, giving that extra boost for overtaking or getting up to speed on motorway slip roads. Some more modern engines are fitted with a twin turbo, providing the extra boost both at low and high RPM, giving an even smoother power delivery. Diesels have recently featured in British Touring Cars and even Le Mans teams have adopted them, proving they can compete with petrol engines on power whilst still beating them on economy.

If your diesel is lacking in power, there are ways to boost the torque by aftermarket engine tuning. This may sound like it’s only for boy racers, but engine tuning (especially on diesels) can actually improve the fuel economy of the motorhome (that’s providing you go easy on the accelerator!) as well as increasing the power as the extra torque will mean the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to pull the load.

There are many companies that now specialise in diesel tuning providing ‘remaps’ or ‘chips’ to reprogram the ECU. Make sure you do your homework and look for a reputable company. Expect to pay in the region of £350 to £500. If a company is charging much less than this, beware, as their methods may actually harm your vehicle, causing bugs with the ECU such as disabling the engine immobiliser. If in doubt, always ask questions about how the map actually works – do they sound like they know what they’re talking about? Look for a company who will offer a money back guarantee and some form of warranty. And if your motorhome is under manufacturer warranty, ask how the modification will affect this.

As a modification you may be wondering about your motorhome insurance. Not all insurance companies will increase their premiums, but it’s worth checking before you plan any modifications to your motorhome. Some specialist motorhome insurance brokers will not charge additional premium providing the brake horse power (BHP) is not increased by more than 30%, but it would be advisable to notify your insurer that you have modified the motorhome.