?Is Your Tailgate Affecting Your Gas Tank?
Largely due to the increase in gasoline and diesel costs over the past 12 months, fuel mileage is currently one of the hottest topics in the truck world. Pickup truck owners face a particularly difficult challenge when it comes to improving the fuel economy of their vehicles. If you own a truck, then you already know that a full-size vehicle is heavier and has a more powerful engine than the average automobile – and that both of these characteristics are strikes against good fuel mileage.
Looking for alternatives
Pickup truck owners have made a variety of efforts to try and improve their fuel economy without having to sacrifice the utility of their vehicles. One of the most popular and least understood areas of truck performance is aerodynamics. While it is true that most trucks can definitely see an improvement in fuel economy if the aerodynamic properties are improved, some of the methods that are used to do this are actually counter-productive.
The tailgate myth
No doubt you have witnessed pickups driving around with their tailgates down, or with no tailgate at all. The idea behind this behavior is that when the tailgate is up, it is creating drag, which lowers fuel economy. Unfortunately, removing or lowering the tailgate merely transfers that drag to the area directly behind the cab, and can in fact increase the amount of drag which the truck must fight against – raising the fuel consumption of the truck.
A tubular compromise
Air flow tail gates, or tailgates which allow the air to pass through them, are a great compromise when it comes to saving fuel and maintaining full use of your cargo bay. These tailgates use tubular steel or mesh to allow air to pass through them, but more importantly, they also save a significant amount of weight when compared to a standard tailgate. It is this weight savings which will help you see the greatest differences in fuel mileage. Even though the tubular steel weighs less than the tailgate it replaces, it still provides the same amount of strength as a solid tailgate, and it helps to prevent the sides of the cargo bed from flexing – a common problem for people who choose to run with no tailgate. Of course, it also helps to keep your cargo from falling out of the truck, which is the most important point of all.
An option for any truck owner
It doesn’t matter whether you own a Ford, a Chevy or a Dodge – there is an air flow tailgate on the market which is designed for your truck. A tubular steel tailgate is a much better choice than a fabric or web-like tailgate, which in some cases has been shown to increase drag by up to 4 percent. Not only that, but fabric wears out over time, leading to sagging, and a fabric or synthetic tailgate can never be as strong as steel. It all comes down to peace of mind, and when you think of your cargo sliding backwards towards either a fabric web or strong steel bars, the choice quickly becomes clear.