Does A Tonneau Cover Save Gas

A tonneau cover is a common aftermarket accessory that truck owners often use to conceal and protect the contents of their pickup truck bed. It is essentially a removable top that can be made of various materials such as aluminum, fiberglass, or vinyl. Some truck owners believe that installing a tonneau cover can improve their vehicle’s fuel efficiency, while others claim that there is no significant gas-saving benefit. This article will explore the potential effects of tonneau covers on gas consumption and investigate whether or not a tonneau cover does, in fact, save gas.

Important Outline

Effect of Tonneau Cover on Aerodynamics

One of the key factors influencing fuel efficiency is a vehicle’s aerodynamics. A tonneau cover can help to improve a truck’s aerodynamics by reducing air drag. The open bed of a pickup truck creates a large, turbulent air pocket behind the cab, causing increased resistance as the vehicle moves forward. This resistance results in higher energy consumption due to the need for more power from the engine to maintain the same speed.

A tonneau cover minimizes this effect by creating a more streamlined surface over the truck bed, allowing air to flow smoothly over the top of the vehicle. This in turn reduces the drag caused by the air turbulence, reducing the engine’s workload and potentially saving gas.

Limited Real-World Savings

While the aerodynamic improvements provided by a tonneau cover can indeed save gas, the real-world savings may be quite minimal. The exact amount of fuel saving will depend on numerous factors such as your driving habits, the type of terrain you drive on, and the make and model of your vehicle.

For example, if you primarily engage in highway driving at high speeds, you may experience more significant fuel savings due to the improved aerodynamics. However, if you mostly drive in urban areas with frequent stops and starts, the effect of a tonneau cover on fuel efficiency may be negligible.

Additional Factors to Consider

Besides aerodynamics, there are a few other factors that may impact your truck’s fuel efficiency while using a tonneau cover:

1. Weight: A heavy tonneau cover may offset the fuel saving benefits by adding extra weight to the vehicle. While some lightweight options are available, installing a heavy cover may negate any gas-saving benefits that come from improved aerodynamics.

2. Driving Habits: Aggressive driving habits, such as rapid acceleration and braking, can decrease your gas mileage. Focusing on driving more efficiently can result in substantial fuel savings, regardless of whether you have a tonneau cover installed.

3. Vehicle Maintenance: Keeping your vehicle in prime condition, including proper tire inflation and regular oil changes, will ensure that your truck runs efficiently and gets the best possible gas mileage.


In conclusion, a tonneau cover can potentially save gas by improving your truck’s aerodynamics. However, the real-world savings may be limited, especially if your driving habits or the type of terrain you drive on don’t allow for maximum fuel efficiency. Ultimately, the decision to invest in a tonneau cover should be based on other factors such as security and convenience, rather than solely on gas-saving potential.

Step by Step Guide

To install a tonneau cover and potentially reap the benefits of improved gas mileage, it’s important to follow these steps:

1. Measure your truck bed: Before purchasing a tonneau cover, it’s crucial to measure your truck bed accurately to ensure a proper fit. The length and width should be measured to determine the right size cover to purchase.

2. Select the type of tonneau cover: There are various types of tonneau covers available on the market, including folding, roll-up, and hard-shell options. Consider your budget, the desired level of security, ease of installation and removal, as well as any aesthetic preferences when making your selection.

3. Prepare the truck bed surface: Clean the surface of the truck bed thoroughly, ensuring that it is free of dirt, debris, and any existing hardware from previously installed accessories.

4. Install the tonneau cover: Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. This process may vary depending on the type and design of the cover chosen. Some tonneau covers will require additional hardware or brackets to be installed, while others may require drilling or adhesive application.

5. Adjust and secure the cover: Once the tonneau cover is in place, make sure it fits snugly and securely, making any necessary adjustments as needed. Proper fit and installation will ensure optimal aerodynamics and potential fuel efficiency improvements.

Step by Step Guide With Bullet Points

– Measure your truck bed.
– Select the type of tonneau cover.
– Prepare the truck bed surface.
– Install the tonneau cover following manufacturer’s instructions.
– Adjust and secure the cover for a proper fit.

Pros and Cons


– Improved aerodynamics, which may lead to some fuel savings.
– Increased security for belongings in the truck bed.
– Appearance – pleasing aesthetics of a covered truck bed.
– Protection from weather elements for items in the truck bed.


– Limited real-world gas savings for some drivers.
– Initial upfront cost of purchasing and installing a tonneau cover.
– Potential added weight affecting fuel efficiency.
– Some types may be cumbersome or difficult to remove, limiting truck bed access.


Q1: How much gas can I expect to save with a tonneau cover?

A: The potential gas savings will depend on numerous factors, including your driving habits, the type and material of the tonneau cover, and the make and model of your vehicle. Some experts suggest a potential fuel economy improvement of 5-10% with a properly installed tonneau cover.

Q2: Are there any negative effects of using a tonneau cover?

A: There may be a few drawbacks, such as the initial upfront costs and potential added weight to the vehicle. Additionally, some tonneau covers may limit access to the truck bed, making it less convenient when you need to load or unload items quickly.

Q3: Which type of tonneau cover is best for fuel efficiency?

A: While there may be minimal differences in fuel efficiency between various types of covers, lightweight options made from soft materials like vinyl or cloth may provide the most negligible impact on fuel efficiency in terms of added weight.


A tonneau cover can provide multiple benefits for truck owners, including improved aerodynamics, which may potentially lead to gas savings. While the real-world savings may be limited for certain drivers, other advantages like increased security and protection from the elements make it worth consideration. To maximize fuel efficiency with a tonneau cover, proper installation and fit are essential, along with maintaining good driving habits and vehicle maintenance. The decision to invest in a tonneau cover should be based on a combination of factors to ensure you make the best choice for your vehicle and personal preferences.

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