One of the most prominent arguments between truck drivers is either tonneau covers offer gas mileage or not. Some agree that it does, while some think it doesn’t affect the mileage whatsoever.
However, the real question is, Does a tonneau cover actually save gas? Let’s find it out. This article contains the information that will help you find an answer to that.
Some old-timers say putting up a tonneau cover counts a lot in saving up gas money, whereas millennials think it doesn’t make a lick of difference.
Our YouTube friends have been conducting various experiments and doing extensive research to find what physics and other fields of science say about it.
Do Tonneau Covers Save Gas?
Do Tonneau Covers Save Fuel?
With aerodynamic being such a complicated field, truck manufacturers design trucks to get the best of mileage. Therefore, any improvement in the mileage through a piece of additional equipment would come as a shocker to me.
The answer is Yes! Tonneau cover does make a difference but wait; there’s more. The discussion doesn’t end here. In my opinion, the outcome is quite negligible because the weight of the cover mostly cancels out the effect of saving gas/fuel. Making a difference isn’t enough as if it isn’t significant enough, it can be a deal of loss for you.
If there were a significant effect a tonneau cover had on mileage, it would be standard equipment helping manufacturers increase their fleet mpg numbers.
Nonetheless, to find the exact reason behind it, you need factual data as opinionated information will further complicate it. Hence, let’s talk science and dive into some legit experiments.
Do Tonneau Covers Save Gas Mythbusters?
Mythbusters is a reality show where Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman perform different experiments to bust myths about particular things.
In one of their experiments, they verified the effect of tailgate being up, down, with tonneau cover, no tailgate, and a mesh tailgate on a pickup truck fuel consumption. The results proved none of these modifications affecting but exceptionally, the mesh tailgate improved the MPG up to a great extent.
Why is that so, you may ask? They explained that when the bed is open, it creates a vortex of negative air around the vehicle as you drive.
It is the reason why leaves and the light trash comes out when you drive. The lowered tailgate reduces the effect causing the drag to increase and slightly improve gas mileage.
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Do Tonneau Covers Really Save Gas?
Another YouTuber conducted another experiment to find if tonneau cover save gas and how much?
His experiment proved that with a tonneau cover the improvement in MPG was about 0.3-0.5 units that are not enough to affect your pocket in saving gas.
So what’s it all about? It all comes to this that you should only invest in tonneau cover if you are looking for a piece of equipment to keep your cargo safe and secure.
Other than that, if you are thinking about saving up on fuel through one, it’s all a myth!
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Now, Come to the Consumer Report
Do Pickup Bed Covers Save Gas?
Do Bed Covers Save Gas? Based on consumer reports, the tests show that a tailgate-up with no cover works the best. The following best is a lowered tailgate, whereas a soft tonneau cover is the worst.
However, there was no test for hardcovers. So, where lies the problem?
Some studies have investigated that detaching the tailgate from the truck is worse than lowering it as lesser air bubbles are formed. Various researchers agree with it, whereas some have differences.
Here’s the thing, not every cover is made in the same way. I believe the comparison between the soft and hardcover adds up to the equation. Regardless of the insignificance, the construction affects the weight and drag of the cover.
Wait! There is More Useful Information
Can a Tonneau Cover Save Gas?
In 2007, researchers conducted another study on this myth. SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) experimented on four trucks of different types and 13 tonneau covers.
As the experiment was for tonneau cover wind tunnels, these were tested in full-sized wind tunnels. The key objective was to check if the cover had any effect on reducing the drag.
They found on average, a tonneau cover brought down drag up to 5.7%. This reduction means about a 1.8% decrease in fuel consumption, which means it can save gas.
Although this percentage might not seem that significant, it does make a difference over a year.
What are the Factors Affecting Fuel Consumption?
Factors affect the mileage and fuel consumption which include:
- Weather: In chilly weather, vehicles consumed more fuel to stay warm and work efficiently.
- Traffic: In case of a traffic jam, you need to apply brakes every minute or so. Every time the vehicle has to move, it takes up power hence, consuming more fuel.
- Speed: Acceleration and fuel consumption has a positive relationship. The more you accelerate, the more fuel the vehicle will consume.
- Weight: If the vehicle has bulky cargo or many passengers in it, the engine will take up more power to move, resulting in higher fuel consumption.
Don’t Skip It. An important consideration to make is where your car consumes the most fuel. A tonneau cover may improve mpg and reduce the coefficient drag; it works the best on a highway.
If your routine drives are in cluttered urban areas with many stops, the additional weight will bring down the mpg. It becomes a net-zero for many urban drivers.
Here are some other Benefits of Tonneau Cover
Benefits of Tonneau Cover include:
- Secure Transportation of cargo
- Protection from weather
- Avoid Theft
- Protect your truck bed from being damaged
- Keep the resale value
- Classy look
Why is it called a Tonneau Cover?
Tonneau means “barrel” or “cask” in French. It was initially an open compartment for passengers on a vehicle. The name was given based on its rounded shape, which resembled a barrel.
Presently, it applies to the open part of a car or a truck. Therefore, the cover used for its protection is known as a tonneau cover.
That’s All We Concluded
To sum it up, you can recover the cost of a tonneau cover within 60,000miles. It may take longer than that before the cover starts paying for itself. I know what you’re thinking; it does seem a little ridiculous.
I suggest buying one for reasons other than fuel efficiency. It provides benefits in the long-term, like conserving the resale value of the truck and protecting cargo.
Related Article: What is the Best Truck Bed Cover