The primary objective of using a tonneau cover is to keep your gears protected from both theft and inclement weather but tonneau cover does offer some other benefits too and the chief among them is helping you save gas. Yes, tonneau covers do help enhancing the fuel efficiency of your truck when installed correctly. However, some studies do point to the fact that tonneau covers don’t have any such impact on fuel efficiency but those studies have conveniently ignored one obvious factor and that is – the design of the tonneau cover.
How Much Gas Does A Tonneau Cover Save?
There are a lot of people who assume that a tonneau cover will save them money at the pump. A cover would reduce drag, making the truck more aerodynamic. This means that the truck would need less gas to travel the same distance. While this may be true in theory, there is not a lot of data to support this claim. In fact, many tests have been done, and the results are inconclusive. Some studies say that a tonneau cover does save gas, while others say that it does not make a difference. More research is needed in order to determine whether or not a tonneau cover actually saves gas.
There are a lot of viewpoints. Some are based on fact, while others are not. We’ll stick to the facts and let you determine whether your tonneau cover will truly save gas for yourself.
The “MythBusters” Study
The MythBusters TV show did a study on whether tonneau covers save gas. They modified a truck and tested different types of covers to see which ones improved fuel economy. It was broadcasted on 2006 Season Episode 21. Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage focuses on these factors – Hard tonneau cover, No tailgate, Mesh tailgate, Tailgate down etc in that particular episode.
They observed a strange thing and that is – the modifications did not make much of an impact on the car’s MPG but the inclusion of mesh tailgate did have a noticeable impact on the MPG. However, there was a problem with this specific study and that is they had used only one truck.
The Wind Tunnel Study
To gather more data on this subject, Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) in 2007 did conduct extensive research. They selected 4 different trucks and 13 different tonneau covers of different types to figure out the impact of these tonneau covers on the milage of those selected trucks. Hinged, folding, retractable and roll up tonneau covers, they had tested them all. However, not unsurprisingly, Specialty Equipment Market Association did not divulge any details about the brand of those tonneau covers they tested.
They selected AeroDyn Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, North Carolina to test the efficacies of these tonneau covers as far as their impacts on fuel economy. They tested how these trucks fared with and without tonneau covers. The objective of this elaborate arrangement is to figure out whether or not these tonneau covers help reducing drags.
The study found that while tonneau covers do help to eliminate wind drag, it is not as significant as previously thought. Data did corroborate the fact that tonneau covers helps improve fuel efficiency of trucks. They observed that with a tonneau cover, trucks on average experience 1.8% increase in fuel efficiency whereas they also experience 5.7% reduction in drag.
Tonneau Cover Weight
The weight of a tonneau cover varies. Tonneaus covers constructed of materials like fiberglass may result in decreased gas mileage. Lighter versions, on the other hand, do not add much weight to the vehicle and are unlikely to affect fuel efficiency.
One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of these studies were carried out while drivers were driving trucks at highway speed. You can save gas only if you are driving at high speed on the high way. In case, you are driving your pickup truck through city where you have to press brake every now and then, you will not notice any such impact as far as the milage of the car is concerned.