Many people ask if the truck bed covers really increase gas mileage. In this article, we have explained all the factors that affect gas mileage and different studies that were conducted on this topic.
Do Truck Bed Cover Increase Gas Mileage? Yes, truck bed covers increase mileage by reducing the drag and making the shape more aerodynamic. On average, a cover increases the mileage up to 10% to 12%. It also increases the fuel economy up to 2%. Let’s discuss how truck beds increase mileage and how different bed covers influence fuel economy.
Do Truck Bed Cover Increase Gas Mileage?
It is also called a tonneau cover and protects the bed of the truck from external elements. It also protects the bed and load present in it.
It is present in different styles and sizes. Each vehicle has its specific bed covers.
Truck bed covers increase mileage by reducing drag and air resistance. A simple pickup without any bed overs gives mileage as specified by manufacturers.
Lowering the tailgate will increase the mileage to some extent. The drivers have recorded a per gallon increase in fuel economy by adding truck bed covers.
On average, a tonneau cover increases mileage ranging from 3% to 25%. The percentage by which bed covers increase mileage depends on the size, material, and cover style.
A soft bed cover can increase the mileage up to 10% to 12%. A hardcover does not show an appreciatable result and increases mileage by 7% to 10%.
How truck bed covers increase mileage?
Truck bed covers increase gas mileage by decreasing the drag and minimize air pockets present at the empty truck bed.
The design of a pickup is contrary to aerodynamics laws. Its broad and flat face will face more drag and resistance than small vehicles.
It gives it a more streamlined body to reduce air resistance to moving vehicles.
The covers can decrease the resistance by allowing the air to pass smoothly on the vehicle’s top. Lesser drag means less pressure on the engine.
The engine will work more efficiently in a low quantity of fuel. On average, a simple tonneau cover decreases the drag by 5% to 7%. It will increase the fuel efficiency to approximately 2%.
Without a cover, the air will glide away from the cab top; hence, air offers more drag to the moving vehicle.
More fuel is required to overcome that resistance. When the bed is empty, the moving air will create more air pockets that increase the air’s resistance.
Bed covers will give the vehicle a uniform block surface that does not entrap any air. It will not only increase the mileage but also increase its speed.
Different studies related to truck bed covers and mileage
Experts conducted many experiments to prove that using truck bed cover can increase mileage. Here is a brief description of these studies.
Wind tunnel study
Specialty equipment market association(SEMA) experimented on a different pickup with 13-bed covers.
This study was conducted in 2007. The experimental trucks were following
- Dodge Ram 1500 truck cover
- GMC sierra truck cover
- Ford F-150
- Chevy Silverado
They tested truck bed covers with different materials, sizes, and styles. They aimed to measure the reduction in fuel consumption by using bed covers.
They tested the vehicles against wind tunnels without bed coverS to measure the value. Then they tested the vehicles with bed covers against wind tunnels.
The result was not sufficient but measurable. They found a 5% decrease in drag and air resistance. The increase in fuel economy was about 1.9%. It gives a reduction in the yearly expenditure of fuel in the engine.
In 2006 Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman conducted a study to prove that pickup bed covers can increase gas mileage.
- lowering tailgate
- hard tonneau cover
- Mesh tailgate
- No tailgate
They found out that a bed cover and mesh tailgate will increase the mileage and fuel economy.
Truck without tailgate also has an impact on fuel economy and gas-saving. But the use of hard tonneau cover was controversial because it does save gas but does not increase mileage.
Factors that influence gas mileage on a truck
Different factors are important that determine the per gallon mileage of the truck.
When you are driving the pickup within a specified speed, the mileage will be normal.
Speeding up the vehicle will increase the drag and resistance toward the pickup.
So it will consume more fuel with low mileage. Short trips can also contribute to increase or decrease the mileage of the vehicle. It will move more efficiently when the engine is warm.
Taking too many short breaks does not give enough time for the engine to warm up. So the engine consumes more fuel and gives low mileage.
In the same way, accelerating the vehicle will also decrease the gas mileage.
Driving it at high-speed forces the gear to switch position immediately. A study has shown a reduction in fuel economy by 33%.
It is an aerodynamic force that opposes the movement of a vehicle through the air. When the drag force is high, the engine will consume more gas to overcome the drag force.
It will ultimately decrease the MPh. The shape of the body plays a role in deciding the amount of drag acting on the vehicle.
A streamlined body will face less drag force than other trucks. On windy days the truck will face more drag force than on a non-windy day.
The type of oil we use in the engine also alters the gas mileage. Motor oil reduces friction and increases the mileage up to 12%.
Fuel injector injects fuel into the engine. When the injector is leaking, it will consume more oil and reduce the fuel mileage.
Spark plug malfunctions will not give combustion power to the engine. It will increase the fuel consumption in the vehicle.
Poor maintenance of vehicles also alters the gas mileage. Tire alignment also contributes to increase or decrease mileage. When the tire begins to wear, the tire alignments get disturbed.
Consideration about ideal truck bed covers
Before buying a bed cover or your truck, consider the following things.
First is the compatibility with your truck. One tonneau product will fit a specific truck bed. You should consult some experts to get knowledge about the type of cover to buy.
Seconds are the material that should reduce the drag and resistance to the vehicle.
Vinyl covers are suitable for this purpose. They will reduce the drag force by allowing a free passage of air from all sides.
Choose bed covers having low weight and soft texture. Hard and heavy bed covers like shells will offer more resistance to the vehicle.
Their heavyweight will put more load on the vehicle engine. Now more fuel is required to drive the truck n a rough area.
Fiberglass covers are heavy and reduce the mileage by increasing gas consumption.
How different bed covers influence gas mileage?
The truck bed covers are of two types like soft covers and hardcovers. I have mentioned previously how these covers affect mileage. Some other categories can also influence gas mileage. Here is a list of these bed covers.
- A soft trifold cover
- A retractable cover
- A hard trifold cover
- A roll-up Tonneau cover
First, roll-up and soft covers can decrease the mileage despite increasing it. The reason is that these covers do not fit the bed properly.
They can r]entrap the air inside and can increase the drag. You can rectify this situation by placing it taut at the bed of the truck.
Carefully position it on the bed and fit it in the place. A hard trifold cover also entraps the air to increase the resistance and reduce fuel economy.
The retractable and trifold soft covers can also cause a problem in reducing the drag and pressure on the bed walls.
These covers are partially expanded when you are carrying a heavy load. In such a case, it will increase the drag force.
When you fit it in a fully open position, you are increasing the pressure and resistance. Some covers have a large head or gate to close it on the truck.
This head unit also increases the drag and reduces the fuel-saving.