Do Tonneau Covers Save Gas?

A lot of people are often wondering about tonneau covers and whether or not they’re more fuel efficient if you have them on or take them off. So Do tonneau covers save gas? Is it really true?

Let’s find out the answer in this blog post. 

1. Do Tonneau Covers Save Gas?

In this part, we take you through some real-world studies and tests to find the answer:

The answer from team Team TFLtruck’s test is a YES. Tonneau covers do save gas. In this test, with the tonneau cover ON, it will help you increase 7.5% in MPG. 

Here is what they did in their real-world test made in 2023.

They made 2 round tests, test 1 with the tonneau cover on and test 2 with the tonneau cover off. Other conditions in both 2 rounds are the same as listed below:

  • Pick-up used: RAM 1500 Classic
  • Driving on the highway
  • Distance: 57 miles 
  • Certain speed maintained: ~75 MPH
  • Tonneau cover used: soft tonneau cover (~25 – 30 pounds)
  • Same wind conditions

Round 1: Tonneau cover is ON. 

  • Distance: 57 miles
  • Energy consumed: 2.696 gallons of 85 octane gas

The result is 21.14 MPG.

Round 2: Tonneau cover is OFF. 

  • Distance: 57 miles
  • Energy consumed: 2.918 gallons of 85 octane gas

The result is 19.53 MPG. 

Conclusion: With the tonneau cover ON, it seems to be getting better efficiency. The difference is significant with a 1.6 MPG difference. It is about 7.5% saving on fuel economy. 

Daily Motor did a similar real word test in 2023 as Team TFLtruck did, and the answer is a YES. Tonneau covers will help you save gas. 

Here is what they did in the test:

  • Vehicle used: 2022 Ford Maverick XLT W/4K Tow and FX4
  • Driving on the highway
  • Same wind conditions
  • Average speed: ~70 MPH
  • Distance: 60.8 miles
  • Tonneau cover used: rolling up the tonneau cover
  • They drove 2 similar rounds, the first one with the tonneau OFF and the second one with the tonneau ON.

Result: With the tonneau cover ON, the result shows that you can get a 5% increase in MPG. So if you often drive long distances on the highway, a 5% increase in MPG will make a difference. 

The Wind Tunnel Study

One of the most scientific studies on this question was conducted by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) in 2007. The study tested 13 different tonneau covers on four trucks made by different manufacturers. The trucks tested were:

  • Ford F-150 bed cover
  • GMC Sierra bed cover
  • Dodge Ram 1500 truck cover
  • Chevy Silverado truck bed cover

13-tonneau covers varied in materials such as soft and hard covers. The covers also came in different styles, including roll-up, retractable, folding, and hinged. No specific tonneau brands used were disclosed.

The trucks were tested in a full-size wind tunnel called the AeroDyn Wind Tunnel located in Mooresville, North Carolina, which is frequently used by NASCAR. The purpose of the experiment was to determine if the tonneau covers had any effect on the drag of the trucks. 

The tests were conducted both with and without the covers to determine their impact on performance.

According to the wind study tunnel, using a tonneau cover resulted in less drag for each truck. Although the reduction was not significant, it was still noticeable. On average, the use of tonneau covers decreased drag by 5.7%, resulting in a 1.8% increase in fuel efficiency.

Even though a 1.8% improvement in gas mileage may not seem significant, it can add up over a year of fueling your truck. According to the Wind Tunnel Study, using a tonneau cover could result in a modest increase in fuel savings.

So the answer from the test is a YES. 

2. How do Tonneau Covers improve gas mileage?

does tonneau cover save gas
Your truck bed will catch the air as you drive and cause drag if it doesn’t have a tonneau cover. (Source: Internet)

If you don’t have a tonneau cover on your truck bed, it will catch the air while you drive and create drag. This will make your engine work harder. 

However, if you use a tonneau cover, it can seal the bed and prevent this airflow, thus improving the aerodynamics and increasing your gas mileage.

The amount of money you save will differ based on the specific truck you have, the type of tonneau cover you use, and your driving habits. The savings will also be relatively small.

3. However, better MPG is not the main reason to invest in a tonneau cover. 

Having a tonneau cover is more than just about saving gas. It can also provide added protection for your cargo and keep it dry during rainy days. 

Plus, many tonneau covers are tailored to fit the shape of your truck’s bed which gives it an improved aesthetic compared to leaving your bed open. 

Furthermore, some tonneau covers help reduce road noise and vibration while driving. 

Therefore, investing in a tonneau cover can be a great way to not only save on gas but also improve the look and performance of your vehicle. 

When selecting a tonneau cover for your vehicle, there are several factors to consider.

  • Make sure you know the size of your truck bed and buy a cover that fits perfectly.
  • It’s also important to research the differences between soft and hardcovers, as well as the design of each type to find one that best suits your needs.
  • Additionally, be sure to select a cover with waterproof material to keep your cargo dry and protected.
  • Finally, look for tonneau covers made from high-quality materials that are designed to last.

Making sure you get the most out of your tonneau cover is important if you want it to save gas and protect your cargo. To ensure maximum performance, maintain the cover regularly by cleaning it with soap and water and applying a UV protectant to prevent fading.

Additionally, check the condition of the seal around the edges of the cover frequently to ensure it is still tight and secure.

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4. FAQs

Q: Is it recommended to purchase a tonneau cover?

Yes, it is recommended to purchase a tonneau cover if you want to improve the fuel efficiency of your vehicle and keep your cargo safe and dry. Just make sure you choose one that fits your truck perfectly and is made out of high-quality materials for maximum performance.

Q: Do all tonneau covers save gas?

Yes, all tonneau covers can save gas as they help reduce drag. However, the amount of money you save will vary depending on the type and design of the tonneau cover you have installed, as well as your driving habits.

Q: What are the pros and cons of a tonneau cover?

The pros of a tonneau cover include increased fuel efficiency, improved aesthetics, and protection for your cargo. The cons include the cost of purchase and installation as well as the fact that they do not eliminate drag.

Q: What are the pros and cons of a tonneau cover?

The pros of a tonneau cover include increased fuel efficiency, improved aesthetics, and protection for your cargo. The cons include the cost of purchase and installation as well as the fact that they do not eliminate drag.

Q: Is it possible to walk on a tonneau cover?

Although they are capable of carrying light loads, it is not recommended to stand on them as the top of the cover is not designed to support the weight. Additionally, hard folding covers can be folded to facilitate easy accessibility and storage.

Q: Is there any recommended budget for a tonneau cover?

The cost of a tonneau cover depends on the type and design you choose, as well as the size of your truck bed. Generally speaking, the price range for fiberglass hard-top tonneaus starts at approximately $1,500 and increases for higher-end models, while other types of hardcovers are generally less expensive. Soft tonneaus typically cost between $200 to $900.

Overall, purchasing a tonneau cover for your truck is a great way to improve its fuel efficiency and protect your cargo from the elements. 

As long as you choose one that fits your truck perfectly and is made out of high-quality materials, it will surely be worth the investment.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, investing in a tonneau cover can be beneficial for both performance and fuel savings. Tonneau covers are designed to give your vehicle improved aerodynamics, by reducing drag.

This can result in a modest increase in fuel savings, although the amount varies depending on your specific vehicle and driving habits.

Additionally, tonneau covers can provide extra protection for your cargo and improve the overall look of your truck. Therefore, investing in one is an excellent way to save money while also protecting what you’re hauling.

If you are considering purchasing a tonneau cover, make sure you choose one that fits perfectly and is made from high-quality materials. Then, regularly maintain it to ensure maximum performance.

Following these tips will help you get the most out of your tonneau cover for maximum efficiency. With the right tonneau cover, you can enjoy improved performance, and protection for your cargo, and potentially save money on fuel costs. So, get a tonneau cover today to maximize your truck’s potential!

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