Do Tonneau Covers Improve Gas Mileage?

Are you looking to boost your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and save money at the pump?

Curious to know if tonneau covers can actually improve gas mileage?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the impact of tonneau covers on fuel consumption.

Discover the truth behind this popular claim and find out if investing in a tonneau cover can help you go the extra mile.

do tonneau covers improve gas mileage

Do Tonneau Covers Improve Gas Mileage?

Yes, Tonneau covers can improve gas mileage by reducing air drag and improving aerodynamics. Creating a streamlined surface over the truck bed minimizes wind resistance, allowing the vehicle to move more efficiently and potentially saving fuel.

How Tonneau Covers Reduce Air Drag and Improve Fuel Efficiency

Smoothing the Airflow: 

With a tonneau cover installed, the air that flows over the truck bed encounters a flat, uninterrupted surface. 

This surface helps redirect the airflow smoothly over the truck, reducing turbulence and minimizing the creation of air pockets that can generate drag. 

As a result, the tonneau cover helps the air flow more efficiently around the vehicle, decreasing resistance and enhancing fuel efficiency.

Eliminating the Air Cushion Effect: 

Without a tonneau cover, air can get trapped in the truck bed, creating a cushion-like effect when the vehicle is in motion. This air cushion effect can disrupt the airflow, leading to increased drag. 

However, a tonneau cover eliminates this problem by providing a sealed enclosure over the truck bed, preventing the formation of air pockets and minimizing the air cushion effect. 

Consequently, the vehicle encounters less resistance from the air, resulting in improved fuel efficiency.

Reducing the Wake Zone: 

The wake zone refers to the disturbed air trails behind a moving vehicle.

Without a tonneau cover, the truck bed creates a significant wake zone, resulting in increased drag. 

Tonneau covers minimize this wake zone by smoothing out the airflow as it moves over the bed, thereby reducing the drag force exerted on the vehicle.

Reduced Energy Consumption

With decreased air drag, the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to overcome resistance and maintain speed.

This reduction in drag force translates into lower energy consumption, allowing your vehicle to operate more efficiently and consume less fuel.

Enhanced Aerodynamics

Tonneau covers improve the overall aerodynamics of your vehicle by optimizing airflow.

This improvement in aerodynamics helps to counteract the drag force, enabling your vehicle to glide through the air with less resistance.

As a result, you can experience improved fuel economy and enjoy savings at the gas pump.

Reduced Tailgate Drag

In scenarios where a truck bed is left open or uncovered, air can flow into the bed and create drag against the tailgate.

However, with a tonneau cover in place, this drag is significantly reduced or eliminated, resulting in improved fuel economy.

Cargo Protection: 

Tonneau covers enhance fuel efficiency and protect your cargo from the elements.

By keeping your belongings secure and shielded from wind resistance, the tonneau cover ensures optimal aerodynamics and reduces any additional weight contributing to drag.

Impact of Tonneau Covers on Fuel Efficiency: Research Findings

Impact of Tonneau Covers on Fuel Efficiency: Research Findings

A study by Western New England University: Soft Tonneau Covers and a 5% Fuel Efficiency Improvement

The research conducted by Western New England University examined the impact of soft tonneau covers on gas mileage. 

Their findings revealed that using a soft tonneau cover could significantly improve fuel efficiency, with an estimated increase of up to 5%. 

This study suggests that the aerodynamic properties of soft tonneau covers contribute to reduced drag and enhanced gas mileage for trucks.

Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Study: Tonneau Covers and a 1.8% Fuel Efficiency Boost for Trucks

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) conducted a study focused on the effect of tonneau covers on gas mileage, specifically for trucks. 

Their research demonstrated that using a tonneau cover on a truck could result in a 1.8% increase fuel efficiency. 

While the precise mechanisms driving this improvement were not explicitly outlined, the study implies that tonneau covers positively influence aerodynamics and gas mileage for trucks.

Full-Size Wind Tunnel Study in California: Assessing Tonneau Covers’ Impact on Drag and Fuel Efficiency

A research study conducted at a full-size wind tunnel in California aimed to investigate the impact of tonneau covers on drag and, indirectly, fuel efficiency. 

Although the specific results of this study were not mentioned, it can be inferred that the researchers sought to determine the influence of tonneau covers on gas mileage. 

By assessing the aerodynamic properties and potential reduction in drag offered by tonneau covers, this study likely provided insights into the relationship between tonneau covers and improved fuel efficiency.

Department of Energy Study: Tonneau Covers and a 3.6% Fuel Efficiency Enhancement

In 2011, the Department of Energy conducted a comprehensive study that examined the use of tonneau covers and their effect on fuel efficiency. 

The findings from this study indicated that driving with a tonneau cover could improve fuel efficiency by approximately 3.6%. 

Moreover, for pickup truck owners, employing a tonneau cover was estimated to result in a significant enhancement of approximately 15% in gas mileage compared to not using one. 

These results imply that tonneau covers have a substantial impact on reducing aerodynamic drag, thereby leading to improved fuel efficiency for pickup trucks.

Real-world Testimonials: Insights from Truck Owners

Real-world Testimonials: Insights from Truck Owners

Fuel Savings: 

Many truck owners have reported noticeable improvements in fuel efficiency after installing a tonneau cover. 

One owner mentioned that their fuel economy increased by up to 10% when using an LS2 tonneau cover. 

This significant reduction in fuel consumption can result in substantial savings over time, especially for those who frequently drive long distances or use their trucks for work.

The improved gas mileage can be attributed to the aerodynamic benefits provided by tonneau covers. 

When a cover is properly installed, it creates a barrier between the truck bed and the outside air, effectively reducing drag and improving aerodynamics. 

This, in turn, leads to better fuel efficiency and savings at the pump. It’s like giving your truck a sleek, streamlined makeover that pays off in terms of fuel economy.

Consistent Results: 

The positive impact of tonneau covers on gas mileage has been recognized by truck owners across various models and brands.

Whether you own a Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, or any other truck, the potential benefits of installing a tonneau cover remain consistent. 

By reducing wind resistance, these covers allow your truck to cut through the air more smoothly, reducing fuel consumption and improving gas mileage.


Testimonials from truck owners highlight the versatility of tonneau covers. Not only do they enhance fuel efficiency, but they also provide additional cargo protection and security. 

Whether you’re hauling equipment, luggage, or personal belongings, a tonneau cover keeps them safe from the elements and potential theft. 

This added benefit makes tonneau covers a practical investment for truck owners seeking both improved gas mileage and enhanced cargo management.

Types of Tonneau Covers: Which Ones Are More Effective for Fuel Efficiency?

Types of Tonneau Covers: Which Ones Are More Effective for Fuel Efficiency?

Retractable Tonneau Covers:

One type of tonneau cover that is known for its versatility and sleek design is the retractable tonneau cover.

For example, the RetraxPRO XR Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover has received top ratings [1][2]. 

These covers allow you to slide them open or closed easily, providing quick access to your truck bed when needed.

When closed, retractable tonneau covers to create a flush and streamlined surface, reducing wind drag and improving fuel efficiency. 

By choosing a high-quality retractable tonneau cover, you can expect noticeable improvements in gas mileage [6].

Folding Tonneau Covers:

Another popular type of tonneau cover is the folding tonneau cover. The Gator EFX Hard Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover is a well-regarded option in this category [1][2]. 

Folding covers consist of multiple panels that can be folded back, giving you easy access to the truck bed. 

When the cover is in the closed position, the panels create a smooth surface that enhances aerodynamics and reduces wind resistance.

Folding tonneau covers offer a good balance between convenience and fuel efficiency.

Are There Other Ways To Improve Gas Mileage Besides A Tonneau Cover?

Keeping your tires inflated to the correct pressure: 

Maintaining proper tire pressure is crucial for optimal gas mileage. Underinflated tires create more rolling resistance, so your engine must work harder to move the vehicle.

Check your tire pressure regularly and inflate them to the manufacturer’s recommended levels.

Keeping your air filter clean: 

A dirty air filter can restrict airflow to the engine, resulting in reduced fuel efficiency. Make sure to inspect your air filter regularly and clean or replace it as needed.

A clean air filter allows for better combustion and ensures your engine is operating at its best.

Avoiding the use of cruise control: 

While cruise control can be convenient on long highway drives, it may negatively impact your gas mileage.

When driving in hilly or fluctuating terrain, cruise control tends to overcompensate by using more fuel to maintain a constant speed.

Instead, try to maintain a consistent speed manually and use cruise control sparingly.

Ensuring your truck is properly aligned: 

Misaligned wheels can cause uneven tire wear and increased rolling resistance, leading to decreased fuel efficiency.

Have your vehicle’s alignment checked regularly and adjust it if necessary. Proper alignment helps your tires roll smoothly and reduces unnecessary drag.

Driving with a lighter load when possible: 

Carrying excess weight in your truck can put a strain on the engine and decrease fuel efficiency.

Remove any unnecessary items from your vehicle, especially heavy ones that you don’t need for your current trip.

Lightening the load can improve gas mileage and overall performance.

Using lower-viscosity oil: 

Consider using lower-viscosity oil that meets your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.

Thicker oils can create more friction within the engine, resulting in reduced efficiency.

Consult your owner’s manual or a professional mechanic to determine the best oil viscosity for your specific vehicle.

Staying up-to-date with vehicle maintenance: 

Regular maintenance plays a vital role in improving gas mileage. Keep up with scheduled oil changes, spark plug replacements, and other recommended maintenance tasks.

Well-maintained vehicles tend to operate more efficiently and deliver better fuel economy.

Tips for Optimizing Fuel Efficiency with Tonneau Covers

Tips for Optimizing Fuel Efficiency with Tonneau Covers

Choose the Right Tonneau Cover:

Selecting the appropriate tonneau cover is the first step toward optimizing fuel efficiency.

Several types are available, including folding, roll-up, retractable, and hinged covers. Consider your specific needs, usage frequency, and budget when choosing.

Measure and Install Properly:

Accurate measurements are vital for a proper fit and optimal performance of your tonneau cover.

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to measure the dimensions of your truck bed precisely. 

When installing the cover, ensure a tight seal by aligning it correctly and securing any attachment mechanisms.

This meticulousness guarantees minimal air turbulence, leading to enhanced aerodynamics.

Maintain the Tonneau Cover:

Regular maintenance is crucial for preserving your tonneau cover’s performance and fuel efficiency benefits.

Clean the cover regularly using mild soap and water, removing any debris or grime that may accumulate over time. 

Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the cover’s surface.

Additionally, lubricate hinges, latches, or any moving parts as recommended by the manufacturer to ensure smooth operation.

Consider Bed Accessories Compatibility:

If you frequently use bed accessories like toolboxes, bed extenders, or cargo management systems, ensure compatibility with your chosen tonneau cover. 

Some covers offer flexibility by accommodating these accessories without compromising their functionality. 

By considering this compatibility, you can maintain your desired level of fuel efficiency while still utilizing your preferred bed accessories.

Utilize Tailgate Seals:

To maximize the benefits of your tonneau cover, consider installing tailgate seals.

These seals prevent air from flowing into the truck bed through the tailgate, further reducing drag and increasing fuel efficiency. 

Simple yet effective, tailgate seals are typically easy to install and can significantly contribute to your vehicle’s aerodynamic performance.

Monitor Tire Pressure:

While tonneau covers can enhance fuel efficiency, it’s important not to overlook other factors that affect it, such as tire pressure. 

Maintaining the recommended tire pressure levels provided by the manufacturer can significantly impact fuel consumption. 

Regularly check and adjust tire pressure to optimize fuel efficiency, reducing the overall energy required for your vehicle’s movement.

Drive Smoothly and Efficiently:

Even with a tonneau cover, your driving habits play a crucial role in fuel efficiency.

Practice smooth and efficient driving techniques, such as gradual acceleration, maintaining a steady speed, and minimizing unnecessary idling. 

Doing so lets you make the most of your tonneau cover’s benefits and further reduce fuel consumption.


How Do Tonneau Covers Affect Gas Mileage?

Tonneau covers affect gas mileage by reducing aerodynamic drag.

When a tonneau cover is installed on a truck bed, it helps streamline the airflow and prevents wind from entering the bed, thus reducing drag.

The reduced drag results in less resistance against the truck’s movement, leading to improved gas mileage.

Which Type Of Tonneau Cover Is Best For Fuel Efficiency?

Soft roll-up or folding bed covers are the most fuel-efficient tonneau covers.

Painted or heavy-duty tonneau coverings cut drag, but they also add weight to the truck, negating any mileage advantage.

Thus, a lightweight roll-up or folding cover maximizes fuel efficiency.

How Much Can Gas Mileage Be Improved With A Tonneau Cover?

Based on the mentioned studies, the improvement in gas mileage with a tonneau cover can range from 1.8% to 5.7%.

While this improvement may not seem substantial, it can still contribute to long-term savings, especially for individuals who frequently drive long distances or rely on their trucks for work.

Do Tonneau Covers Pay For Themselves Through Fuel Savings?

Tonneau coverings are rarely purchased with the idea that fuel savings will pay for them.

Tonneau covers protect cargo and improve truck appearance, but fuel savings may not be enough to pay the cost.

Tonneau covers may be worth buying due to their benefits and long-term savings.

Are Tonneau Covers Universally Effective In Improving Gas Mileage?

Tonneau covers can improve gas mileage depending on truck model, driving circumstances and kind.

Studies show that it improves fuel efficiency. However, the percentage improvement is mediocre.

Individual mileage improvements vary. Tonneau cover design and installation can also affect drag reduction and gas mileage.


Boost your gas mileage with a Tonneau Cover. By reducing wind resistance, it enhances aerodynamics, allowing you to cut through the air more efficiently.

Save money and drive farther with this simple yet effective upgrade. Experience the benefits of improved fuel efficiency for yourself and enjoy the journey with a Tonneau Cover.

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