There has been much debate on whether or not tonneau covers actually improve gas mileage. Some say that they do, while others believe that they don’t make a difference.
So, what’s the truth?
Do tonneau covers improve gas mileage?
Does Having a Truck Bed Cover Save Gas?
If only we’d have known the stir that, that Mythbusters episode would have.
Well, studies have shown that tonneau covers can indeed improve fuel economy by up to 10 percent. This is because they reduce drag on the truck, which in turn makes it more aerodynamic and therefore more fuel-efficient.
Of course, there are other factors that can affect gas mileage, such as the type of truck, its engine size, and how fast you are driving. But if you’re looking to eke out every last mile per gallon, a tonneau cover is definitely worth considering.
But there’s way more to it than meets the eye.
For instance, even the type of tonneau cover you are using can make a difference and the variables are almost endless.
For example, a hard tonneau cover will reduce the amount of air that gets into the truck bed in comparison to a soft cover that may not be tensioned properly and lets air get inside your bed.
However, that same hard tonneau cover is, indeed, heavier than the soft tonneau cover, thus potentially negating any difference, or actually providing less of an MPG gain in comparison to a properly tensioned soft tonneau cover.
Another thing to consider is if you frequently drive with your tonneau cover partially opened for carrying larger cargo. This will actually hurt your MPG dramatically as you will technically be increasing the wind drag even further.
And as if the details couldn’t get any more tedious, even the design on your truck bed cover can make a difference. The smoother your tonneau cover, the better. Purchasing a rolling tonneau cover is ideal in this scenario in comparison to folding or ridged tonneau covers. Even a one-piece or plain-design retractable hard cover will provide better results than a folding hard cover for the very reason of vehicle airflow.
Basically, the key takeaway is that a soft tonneau cover will provide the most noticeable increase in MPG if, and only if, it is tensioned correctly and is mainly used when in the fully closed position.
Do Soft Tonneau Covers Improve Gas Mileage?
When tensioned correctly soft tonneau covers provide the best increase in MPG for your truck.
They’re much lighter in weight than their hard counterparts, so they already offer that advantage. And then when tensioned correctly they offer the same aerodynamic improvements as a hard cover, making them the top performing cover type of all when it comes to MPG.
Does a Tonneau Cover Improve Aerodynamics?
The fact is, a tonneau cover will definitely reduce drag on your truck and therefore make it more aerodynamic. This, in turn, should theoretically improve your fuel economy.
But How Much Of An Improvement Can You Expect?
Well, it really depends on the type of truck you have and the type of cover you use. Generally speaking, you can expect to see an improvement of anywhere from 2 to 5 percent, all the way up to 10 percent if everything is perfect.
Do Tonneau Covers Improve Gas Mileage – Conclusion
So, there you have it. Tonneau covers can improve your gas mileage by up to 10 percent. But it’s important to keep in mind that there are other factors that can affect fuel economy as well. So if you’re looking to get the most out of your truck, be sure to invest in a quality cover and take care of it properly.
Interested in more guides? Why not check out our guide on the most common tonneau cover problems.