How Much Does A Tonneau Cover Improve MPG

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Last Updated on May 24, 2022

A tonneau cover not only protects your truck bed but improves the fuel efficiency of your truck as well. A tonneau cover reduces aerodynamic drag that improves the gas mileage of your truck. Now, there is a question that comes how much does a tonneau cover improves mpg? Well, it’s a good question and we are going to discuss it in this article.

How Much Does A Tonneau Cover Improve MPG

How Much Gas Does a Tonneau Cover Save

It is assumed by many people that a tonneau cover can reduce drag by covering the bed of the truck. Because an open bed and the tailgate capture airflow that leads to more drag while driving at high speeds. So, reducing the drag provides better gas mileage and that means less fuel cost. 

There are different opinions regarding this topic. We will discuss the facts behind it thoroughly based on some research. Now, let’s get started.

The Wind Tunnel Study

You might be wondering, what a wind tunnel is, do you? Well, a wind tunnel is like a tunnel structure that produces airstream of a known velocity of aircraft, cars, or other solid objects to find out how the flow of wind put effects on them.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) researched how much a tonneau cover improves mpg. They conducted scientific tests with four different trucks. The trucks used are:

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

There were 13 tonneau covers used for the test which are made from different materials of both soft and hard types including a variety of designs like roll-up, retractable, folding, and hinged tonneau covers.

The trucks are tested in a full-size wind tunnel. For the experiment, they went to the AeroDyn Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, North California. They tested how the trucks performed with an open bed and also with a tonneau cover. The main purpose of the test was to find out whether the tonneau covers reduced drag.

When the testing is done, they found that every truck had less drag with a tonneau cover. Though the results weren’t huge but measurable. It is found that a tonneau cover leads to a 5.7% of drag reduction as well as a 1.8% increase in gas mileage compare to an open truck bed. According to the Wind Tunnel Study, it is proved that a tonneau improves mpg by increasing the fuel efficiency of your truck.

Tonneau Cover Gas Mileage MythBusters Study

MythBusters is an Australian-American science entertainment television program. In the 64th episode of the series, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman who are the co-hosts of MythBusters made some modifications to a truck to test whether the fuel efficiency increases. They were testing a few factors:

  • Keeping the tailgate down
  • Mesh tailgate
  • No tailgate
  • Hard tonneau cover

From their experiment, it is found that the mesh tailgate improved the fuel efficiency of the car which is noticeable whether the other modifications did not make a difference. They had used one truck for the experiment for this some people criticize their study. But we would say, if you want a tonneau cover only for saving gas then you shouldn’t buy one according to Adam and Jamie’s perspective.

Consumer Reports Test

Consumer Reports did a small test held in 2013 using a Dodge Ram V8. Though they used one soft tonneau cover and one truck for the test, they found that having a soft tonneau cover on the truck bed improves fuel efficiency.

The following are some other factors we need to consider:

  • The above tests are done considering driving trucks at highway speed. So, it may vary depending on driving speed.
  • There are covers which may lower the fuel efficiency like tonneau cover made of fiberglass they are typically lightweight but not as much as ABS tonneau covers. You can repair fiberglass tonneau cover at home if it is damaged.

If you are curious about more fuel efficiency, you will have to consider these factors before buying a tonneau cover for your truck.


Now, it is as clear as water that a tonneau cover does improve noticeable fuel efficiency but in a certain amount depending on some factors. But considering only fuel efficiency should not be your approach to have a tonneau cover for your truck. Keep that in mind and if you have any questions leave us a comment below for more information about tonneau covers.

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Author: Charles King

Charles King is an automotive enthusiast with a keen interest in the latest technologies and products. He likes to educate himself and help other car lovers by sharing his knowledge. This website is a place for him to share his thoughts and experiences.

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