Save $88.32 Per Year By Adding A Tonneau Cover To Your Truck

It is true and has been proven that adding a tonneau cover to your truck’s bed will save you as much as $88.32 per year. Aerodynamics is how it does it. And I prove it below so keep on reading.

I embarked on finding out the answer to this question, but not only the answer but proof and details about how it happens. This article covers all the quantifiable details that I found.

Covering the truck’s bed reduces the air turbulence happening in there while driving. The turbulence creates drag and makes it harder for the truck to move, requiring the truck’s engine to work harder to push it forward. This effect directly affects your wallet by you having to spend more money on fuel to feed the truck so you can get to places far-far away.

How The Tonneau Covers Improve Gas Mileage

Aerodynamic Drag Without A Tonneau Cover

Aerodynamic Drag With A Tonneau Cover
The drag that is created behind the cab is smoothed out by adding a tonneau cover. It reduces the aerodynamic drag, allowing air to flow more seamlessly over the truck, rather than getting trapped in the bed. This reduction in drag translates to improved fuel efficiency.

This I already knew, so I dug deeper, looking for some studies about the effects of drag to fuel efficiency. I found a guy named Max Schenkel. He has been doing aerodynamics testing for GM.

According to Max Schenkel, technical fellow of aerodynamics for General Motors, an improvement in the drag coefficient of just 0.01 improves the fuel efficiency by 0.1 MPG(1). A study was done to test the aerodynamic benefits of tonneau covers and it shows that a maximum of 7.5% improvement can be expected.

The drag coefficient of that improvement was 0.075, which equates to about 0.75 MPG.(2)

This means that if my truck gets 22 MPG on the highway, by adding a tonneau cover, I can expect to get 22.75 MPG. That’s 3/4 of a mile more per gallon of gas. That is a 3% improvement.

With a range of about 506 miles on my truck’s 23-gallon gas tank, I would increase the range of that same gas tank from 506 miles to 523 miles. That is a 17-mile improvement.

I will spare you the calculation (but you can see it below), but with an average fuel usage of a typical full-size pickup truck of 660 gallons per year(3), the dollar savings will be equivalent to $88.32 per year.

MetricWithout Tonneau CoverWith Tonneau CoverImprovement
MPG22 MPG22.75 MPG3%
Range per Gas Tank506 Miles523 Miles17 Miles
Cost Per Year (14522 mi)$2640.40$2552.08$88.32

Nerd Alert: Here Are The Calculation Details

Without Tonneau Cover
$92 is the cost of 23 gallons of gas (@ $4.00 per gallon) = 506 miles range (@ 22 miles per gallon) = $0.181 per mile cost.

With Tonneau Cover
$92 is the cost of 23 gallons of gas (@ $4.00 per gallon) = 523 miles range (@ 22.75 miles per gallon) = $0.176 per mile cost & 17 extra miles of range per gas tank.

The Savings
$0.005 savings per mile =  $2.615 per 23-gallon gas tank = That is 3/4 of a gallon of gas worth, per tank of gas, of savings!

With the average truck using about 660 gallons per year(4) = That’s 28.7 full tanks of gas.

17 extra miles per tank X 28.7 tanks per year = 487 extra miles per year = that is almost a standard tank range (96% of 506 miles range) = 96% of the cost of a tank of gas is $88.32

So Is It Worth It?

For truck owners who spend a significant amount of time on the road, these savings can be substantial over the lifespan of the vehicle. Adding a tonneau cover to the truck, I will be saving $88.32 per year on gas.

The cheapest tonneau cover that I found is a little over $200 on Amazon. It would take 2.5 years for it to pay itself off.

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