Pickups are quite larger than most other vehicles on the road. This usually means that they require quite more fuel than their counterparts. So there is a constant battle among manufacturers to offer the most fuel-efficient pickup. But this needs to be done all while preserving its main purpose. We all know how pickups are workhorses. So there are some things that a truck needs to do, and it needs to do them well. Otherwise, it is failing at its most important job, which is to haul and tow as much as possible.
More often than not, fuel economy is not the strongest suite of pickups. And many people accept that and simply let it slide. But there are those who will find even the slightest adjustments that save a small percentage of fuel. Well, those small numbers add up and if you do things properly, you can save a whole lot on fuel. One of those myths is a Tonneau Cover and how it can help you and your pickup save fuel. So is it just a myth, or is there more to it than just pipe dreams? Let’s take a closer look at the science behind it.
Does it actually improve fuel economy?
Yes, a tonneau cover does indeed improve fuel efficiency by 10%. However, a number of variables, such as the tonneau cover type, driveway, speed, and more, affect the outcome. The use of a tonneau cover by the pickup owner typically results in improved gas mileage.
How much gas does it save?
Numerous motorists consider that covering the truck’s bed will reduce drag. In addition, they believe that a tailgate that captures airflow at higher cruising speed and open cargo space will result in higher drag. Practically speaking, better gas mileage results from attempting to make the truck more aerodynamic and lowering drag. Additionally, getting improved MPG results in significant gas-pump savings.
Individuals are interested in knowing if tonneau covers are actually conserving gas despite other benefits. There are many ways to approach the issue, but thankfully some research has been done to yield a sensible solution. Additionally, there are a lot of viewpoints that are supported by research and personal experience. Let’s investigate both of them to learn the truth.
The science behind it
Back in 2007, Specialty Equipment Market Association did research on this topic. They had 4 of the most common pickups on the road from different manufacturers. They used 13 different tonneau covers. Some of those include retractable, folding, roll-up, and hinged ones. Trucks that were used during the test include a GMC Sierra, Chevy Silverado, Dodge RAM 1500, and of course a Ford F-150. The tonneau covers that were tested had both soft and hardcover versions.
There was no research data about brand-specific tonneau covers, which is quite objective in our opinion. They also used a full-size wind tunnel in North Carolina. The AeroDyn Wind Tunnel was used to check the fuel economy with or without the cover. The research team wanted to see if the cover reduced wind drag. They concluded that each pickup in the test had reduced wind drag while having the cover on. There wasn’t a huge difference, but the wind drag was reduced by 5.7 % which helped 1.8% with fuel economy. Even though this isn’t a huge difference, over a whole year this does add up to a noticeable amount in gas money.
Other factors that help with improving MPG
Weight and surface of the cover
Making the appropriate tonneau cover selection might result in fuel cost savings. Just choose a lightweight tonneau cover as a general rule. It is crucial because it lowers the vehicle’s mass and enables it to go forward using less energy. A lightweight tonneau uses less gas in this manner. Similar to this, a tonneau cover that is soft and taut will reward you with good gas mileage. Another benefit is a smooth surface. Choose a tonneau cover with a single section and a top with consistent materials. A one-piece tonneau should also assist you to experience greater airflow if you don’t want a bulky metal-made tonneau cover that could weigh the car down.
The engine and maintenance needs of the pickup do come into play when determining MPG. There should be enough grease on rotating parts to ensure tire rotation goes unobstructed.
The increase in Mpg is also influenced by the truck’s age. A truck equipped with contemporary technology has some useful features that significantly lower drag. In contrast to modern pickup trucks, using a tonneau cover on the 80s or 90s vehicle won’t produce a nice effect.
The MPG improvement does heavily depend on driving conditions. Uphill driving also plays a vital role. Cold weather doesn’t impact fuel economy in a good way. So during spring and summer, you can expect better fuel economy.
Parts that impact MPG greatly
There are some parts of the vehicle that can play a role in determining and improving the MPG of a pickup. The airflow sensors are one of those parts. Spark plugs and oxygen sensors also can come into the equation. But big and important factors are tire size and tire pressure, as well as the cleanliness of air filters.
For extended trips with freight and other weights, using a tonneau cover on your pickup can indeed prove to be a smart move. Despite the things inside the bed and bed protection, we hope you now know the answer to your question about whether or not the tonneau cover increases MPG. In actuality, a tonneau cover can help you save 53 gallons of fuel per year. At the end of the year, it will undoubtedly support the pump. So the vehicle owner should think about a tonneau cover, whether it’s for better security and cargo protection or to improve MPG and fuel efficiency.