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Updated Automatically on November 21st, 2008
better gas mileage

You can improve fuel economy in your pickup truck by improving it’s aerodynamics.

The fuel economy of pickup trucks has improved through better aerodynamic design, but it’s still hindered by the main visible feature of a pickup truck: That big, open truck bed.

The bed of your truck disturbs the flow of air and creates gas-eating turbulence. You can improve fuel economy in your truck by either covering the truck bed with a tonneau cover or a truck cap. Alternately, if you don’t haul small items in your truck bed often, you might consider one of the many ventilated tailgates that let air flow through the gate instead of trapping it like a parachute. But keep safety first, though, and only install a ventilated tailgate if you don’t haul small items that could pass through the gate holes and become a hazard to other drivers.

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Updated Automatically on November 21st, 2008
better gas mileage

8 Responses to “Quick Fuel Economy Tip For Pickup Trucks”

    Regarding your gas saving tips for pickup trucks. I am just starting a project in one of my engineering classes comparing the drag on pickups with the tailgates up and down. All of the research I’ve seen so far suggests the aerodynamics are actually better with the tailgate up. This may be counterintuitive, but wind tunnel tests show that when the tailgatge is up, circulating air creates a “pillow” in the bed that directs air currents over the back. So, while your recommendation of a tonneau cover is valid, lowering the tailgate or replacing it with a ventilated one would actually reduce gas mileage, though probably by an inconsequential amount.

    I have just completed an abbreviated study on how tailgates affect gas milage. I was wondering if Andrew Stephens could send me any data on testing he might have done. I am also willing to provide some of my data.

    I am trying to find information on ventilated or vented pickup tailgates and the info on less wind drag. Do you have any resources or know of websites that can assist me?

    So who is right here? Tailgate up, down or off?

    What was the actual savings indicated during the test, or is Andrew right?


    The TV show “myth busters” busted this one. The test they did show no improvement with the tail gate down.

    Has anyone thought about tool boxes?
    Does having one disrupt this “wind pillow” created in the bed of the pick up?
    How much?
    Is it better?
    Long bed, short bed, or side step bed?
    which is better?
    which is worse?

    The “pillow” effect was demonstrated on Mythbusters some time ago. I don’t remember which episode, but they did a water tank test on a model that showed the ball of air in the bed quite well.

    I want to know how the aerodynamics of a truck are effected by air flow under the truck instead of over. Does the “air dam” help or hinder the fuel economy? I know the reasoning behind most air dams is to redirect air up to the radiator to help cool the motor. But is it killing gas mileage at the same time and are some of the air dams just there?

Something to say?