Improving a truck’s fuel economy with a Tonneau cover seems an unlikely candidate, but many drivers are pleasantly surprised to learn that a tonneau cover over their pickup bed actually saves them money at the pump.  Most pickup owners are aware that their vehicles have one of the most fuel wasting components found on any vehicle; the tailgate. Manufacturers of truck tonneau covers cite up to ten percent increases in fuel economy just from installing a tonneau cover to prevent the high aerodynamic drag associated with open pickup beds and exposed tailgates. Leaving the tailgate down has been shown to help to some degree, but its worth has never been quantified. It is illegal in some states and generally unsafe for a variety of reasons. A smooth tonneau cover directs airflow away from the vehicle with less turbulence and drag while also providing the added benefits of concealing and securing your valuable cargo. Can you add ten percent more to your truck’s fuel economy with a tonneau cover? We can’t say for certain, but even half of that should be enough to gain you an extra mile per gallon or so.

Improving a Truck’s Fuel Economy With a Tonneau Cover

Improving a Truck's Fuel Economy from a Tonneau Cover

Improving a Truck's Fuel Economy with a Tonneau Cover

Improving a truck’s fuel economy with a tonneau cover is easy to understand when you stick your hand out the window at sixty miles per hour and feel the power of the on-coming air pressure against your hand. Your truck has a much greater frontal area than your hand so the amount of air pressure resisting your truck’s forward progress is many times greater than the considerable pressure you feel against your hand. A similar amount of resistance is presented by the tailgate of your truck as air flows around and over the cab. When this air encounters your tailgate if creates enormous drag because it is also captured by the sides of the bed. A tonneau cover prevents air from entering the bed cavity and stacking up against the tailgate.Even a soft-model tonneau cover will prevent air from entering the truck bed. the air is deflected by the cover and passes more smoothly off the back of the truck with little resistance. Using a tonneau cover eliminates the impractical need for tailgate removal or the unsafe practice of leaving the tailgate down. Savings estimates vary from 5 to 10%, but the effect is cumulative along with other fuel saving strategies you may be practicing.Tonneau covers also provide attractive storage protection for your cargo. They come in hard and soft versions with hinged, roll-up, tri-fold and retractable options depending on the type selected. While the fuel savings are recognized immediately, it typically takes 12 to 18 months to recover the cost of the cover depending on the type you select and the cost. Still, the long term benefits of improving a truck’s fuel economy with a tonneau cover are substantial and well worth the money.

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