Does Putting Your Tailgate Down Save Gas?

When you own a truck gas is always a needle in your side. Saving money on gas seems like a constant battle between normal day life and worthwhile sacrifices. But there are some easy fixes that won’t change your lifestyle much or at all.

One major thing with pickups is the tailgate. Does putting your tailgate down save gas? Or does it eat more gas? How much gas do you save with tailgate down? It can be confusing and counterintuitive: tailgate up or down? I break down the science and give you an easy answer:

Does Putting Your Tailgate Down Save Gas?

No, putting the tailgate down wastes more gas. Why is that? it seems counterintuitive and it is. Putting a wall up that is hitting wind causes more drag that is for sure. So what is the science behind this?

Source: Mechanix Illustrated


With a truck tailgate, the air in the truck bed has only one side to enter and exit. The air moving across the truck slides over the cabin and then hits the air that is sitting in the truck bed. This sort of creates a cushion of air that doesn’t mix too much. The air that passes over the truck bed moves past the truck almost completely.

So, the truck tailgate actually keeps a pocket of air that does not mix with the passing air above. When the tailgate is down all the air moves through the bed like a crashing wave. It is inefficient and creates chaos. That means this turbulence creates more drag than with the tailgate up. More drag means more gas needed to move the car.


Source: GMC


Is It Better To Drive With The Tailgate Up Or Down?

Tailgate up is better for saving money on gas, you have better vehicle control, and increased safety by possibly saving forgotten things stored in the pickup bed. They could fly out and you could lose them or worse yet, you could cause damage to other vehicles on the road or cause an accident. Having a solid spray in bed liner would help from things sliding around in your bed.

With the tailgate up it seems like you would increase drag and cause more gas wasted. But that is actually not the case. The tailgate and cargo (if any) could bounce around, cause balance or traction issues, and cause the driver to even lose control of the vehicle.

Driving at highway speeds with less than optimal weather conditions is unpredictable. Using extreme caution is recommended to maintain 100% control of the vehicle while in operation.

Safety is an issue not always brought up. If there are things stored in your bed and they are not strapped down properly they can break free and fall out of your truck! If this happens the driver is responsible for any damage that occurs as a direct result of the debris falling out of the truck.

So, if a surfboard falls out and goes through the windshield of the following vehicle that could be very bad news and could even ruin lives. That is not to mention a flaw with the Toyota Tundra’s tailgate when not secured or can even be easily stolen.


Does Truck Bed Cover Save Gas?

A truck bed cover saves gas more than a bare truck bed regardless of the tailgate position. A truck bed cover can provide the best aerodynamics to maximize fuel efficiency.

A hard truck bed cover saves more gas than a soft folding truck bed cover. It provides rigidity to bead air molecules from the truck more than a softcover. A soft truck bed cover will save gas but it moves and shakes using energy in the process. Any truck bed cover is better than a bare truck bed for saving money on gas.


What Is The Best Way To Save Gas While Driving?

There are many things you can do to save gas while driving. If you are trying to make it to the next gas station with low fuel or if you want to save money with the ever-increasing cost of gas you have many options to save cash.

The main idea that will make the largest difference is to minimize braking. Minimize braking? What the hell are you talking about?

The idea is to press on the gas-only as much as you need. Then you can switch between coasting and using gas to maintain the speed and flow of traffic. If you see up ahead people are braking you can let off the gas and slow down while others are still punching it.

Then you will approach the slowed traffic using much less braking than needed. This way you will also approach slower i.e. getting there using less fuel.

Or if you are approaching an intersection and there is a red light or a stop sign you can approach it and let off the gas at a greater distance than normal. Keeping on the gas and then immediately switching to braking will get you to a stop quicker but not more than a few seconds and you will have wasted much more gas in the process.

Of course, avoid braking only when safe. You should never avoid braking if there is a possibility it could cause an accident. Here are some other ways you will be able to save gas while driving:

  • Try to coast instead of using the gas when possible
  • Buy gas in cooler weather
  • Slow down and drive steady
  • Minimize wind drag
  • Use apps to find the cheapest gas in your area
  • Using all the gas in your tank can cause your car to use more gas towards the end of your tank


Can You Sit On A Tailgate?

Yes! A tailgate is, on average, designed to support 100+ lbs. It can easily hold one or more people. Some use a tailgate as a workbench while on the job. Some use it as an extension to hold items while the truck is being driven.

If the truck has been in an accident this may severely limit the usability of the tailgate and should be approached with caution. A normally functioning tailgate can be a great option for sitting and enjoying the outdoors. I highly recommend embracing the great outdoors on a semi-regular basis.

Does putting your tailgate down save gas? We now know it does not. It actually wastes more gas. It is strange, but with some things that are not obvious to the naked eye, we can understand this fully.

Some states even outlaw this driving with the tailgate down due to mostly safety concerns. They know some people can get complacent and forget to secure their cargo and it can go flying on the freeway causing a bad day for some.

Thanks for reading and stay dirty