RV Generator Stops At 1/4 Tank, Right?  BUSTED!

I've always heard, and read, a generator on a motorhome feeds from the RV fuel tank, but the pickup is 1/4 from the bottom of the tank.  The idea is the generator can never drain the tank fully, leaving the RV stranded.  Great idea.  But is it true?

On the way back from a recent trip, we were on a deserted section of road, with no gas stations for miles.  When we finally found one, the line was around the corner, and I'm not sure we would have fit with the Jeep still connected.  Though my fuel gauge was getting low, I wasn't immediately concerned as my generator was still chugging along.  I had at least a 1/4 tank of fuel, right?  The RV was still fairly new to us, and I've never checked the accuracy of the gauge, nor ever run the fuel this low.

I continued on, knowing if I did run it dry, the Jeep would double as a lifeboat, and I could go fetch fuel in it.  It seemed like another hour went by before finally finding civilization, and plenty of gas stations.  I pulled in, took pictures of the dash display, and recorded the actual fuel it took to fill up.


The low fuel warning had been on for a while.

When we stopped, the trip computer estimated we had 40 miles to empty.  We only get about 6 MPG towing the Jeep, and the generator running.  So 6.7 gallons left?

The Jeep gets 15 MPG on a good day.  The motorhome gets 6, towing the Jeep, using a V10 gas engine, with the aerodynamics of a brick wall.  I'm not complaining.  What I pay in fuel, I save staying in my own mobile resort.

Most gas stations I've been to limit each credit card transaction to $100.  Maybe to limit charges on stolen cards?  PITA if your tank capacity is 80 gallons.

So I carry a couple of credit cards.  I'm sure if I went in, gave them my card, they could charge the full amount in a single transaction.  But I'm not willing to hand over my card, and with the pandemic in full swing, I'm avoiding going indoors whenever possible.  First fill, 40.425 gallons.

Second card, an additional 32.679 gallons.  73.1 gallons total, put into an 80 gallon tank.  That means I had 6.9 gallons remaining.  The trip computer estimated 6.7 gallons.  Wow, the trip computer is VERY accurate.  I'll never doubt it again!


Lesson learned.  Unless YOU test that your generator fuel pickup is 1/4 of the way up from the bottom of your fuel tank, don't assume what everyone tells you is accurate.  It should have quit, with 20 gallons still in the tank.  I had less than 7 gallons, and the generator was still running fine.  Thankfully, I didn't get stranded somewhere.  I will use the GPS on longer trips to look for gas stations along the route.  If only 1 station is found for miles, look for a closer stop with multiple options.  My RV does not fit at all stations.




Last updated 01/26/22   All rights reserved.