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Old 08-27-2014, 08:45 PM   #1
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Which is more fuel efficient, driving with a pickup's tailgate up or down?

Another interesting read and video.

To solve this tailgate debate, we went inside the wind tunnel at Ford to test the aerodynamics of the 2015 Ford F-150.

Which is more fuel efficient, driving with a pickup's tailgate up or down?
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Old 08-27-2014, 08:57 PM   #2
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Cool find Donna. Now I'd love to see how it looks towing all our various Escapes!
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:31 PM   #3
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Thank you! Been wondering the answer since I was a kid and my friend took off his tailgate to go faster .... he just lost things out the back.
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:35 PM   #4
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Off topic: Earlier today I was wondering what the purpose of the pad is that you see draped over the tailgate of some pickups.
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:41 PM   #5
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Great link, Donna. I had heard of similar finding, but it is nice to watch that video for proof.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
Off topic: Earlier today I was wondering what the purpose of the pad is that you see draped over the tailgate of some pickups.
They are usually for carrying bikes in the back, where the box is too short for them to fit inside.

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Old 08-27-2014, 11:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Off topic: Earlier today I was wondering what the purpose of the pad is that you see draped over the tailgate of some pickups.
They are also used for surfboards, paddle boards, etc.
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Old 08-27-2014, 11:47 PM   #7
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They are also used for surfboards, paddle boards, etc.
Yeah, we don't get too many of those around here. LOL
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Old 08-28-2014, 12:44 AM   #8
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Well, who am I to argue with engineers with their own wind tunnel

But I really don't believe that demo is an apples and apples comparison.

Not to belabor my lack of knowledge but that demo is a static display of smoke flow. A true test would measure dynamic drag and I don't believe for a second that there's less drag with the tailgate up. Also they don't show the smoke flow, from the front, with the tailgate down.

Are the claims real or is it a tightly scripted marketing plan to sell the new design of the tail gate? I'm a hard sell.

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Old 08-28-2014, 01:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Well, who am I to argue with engineers with their own wind tunnel

But I really don't believe that demo is an apples and apples comparison.

Not to belabor my lack of knowledge but that demo is a static display of smoke flow. A true test would measure dynamic drag and I don't believe for a second that there's less drag with the tailgate up. Also they don't show the smoke flow, from the front, with the tailgate down.

Are the claims real or is it a tightly scripted marketing plan to sell the new design of the tail gate? I'm a hard sell.

Ron
I'm a hard sell too. But, Myth busters did a segment on this very topic some time ago, and they also got better mileage with the tailgate up. They explain why at the link:

Driving With Tailgate Up Is Fuel Efficient : Discovery Channel
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Old 08-28-2014, 02:17 AM   #10
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It's one of those things that defies logic, but it's good for all of us with trucks that our stuff doesn't slide out the back while getting better mileage.
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Old 08-28-2014, 08:43 AM   #11
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I use a tonneau cover. It gives me the best milage and protects everything from the weather and prying eyes. The Honda Ridgeline has a two way tailgate (up and down and sideways) which is an excellent feature.
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:29 AM   #12
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Here's an unbiased confirmation that up is better:

Pickup Truck Tailgates | Fuel Economy - Consumer Reports News
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:38 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Also they don't show the smoke flow, from the front, with the tailgate down.
Maybe have another look at the video, Ron. They do show the flow for a bit with it down, and the resulting turbulence.
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Old 08-28-2014, 11:30 AM   #14
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My unscientific test was on Aug. 1 driving into Winnipeg. I left the trailer in Whiteshell Provincial Park (and the fifth wheel as I was picking up appliances in Winnipeg). I left tailgate down, drove a constant 100 kph and watched the fuel consumption computer go to 10 l.100km. Previously the lowest I'd ever seen was 12 on another highway but still driving 100 (with the fifth wheel installed). BTW I get 14 towing the 5.0. This is a 2010 F150 Supercab 2wd with 4.6l.

I have been debating whether to get a louvered tailgate with the centre drop as I have to raise the tailgate after passing the kingpin before hooking up. My test indicates I should plus there's the convenience of leaving tailgate in place.

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Old 08-28-2014, 12:02 PM   #15
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Man, I've been wrong once or twice before but to be busted by Myth Busters, that's crushing

Well, not to sound like sour grapes, but their methodology leaves a bit to be desired.

I don't drive around with my tailgate down. In the city etc. that seems like just asking for it to get damaged. For years, when I don't have my canopy on I remove that tailgate and replace it with a 1 1/2" aluminum cross tube at the top. In hilly country not lugging the weight of the tailgate around has to be a factor. Also, without the canopy I have a box behind the cab. That also changes the equation.

I'm looking forward to playing with a canopy mounted wind deflector to use when towing. Lots of different opinions on their effectiveness also.

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Old 08-28-2014, 12:22 PM   #16
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I've heard that continued use of the tailgate down can cause a wishbone effect (spreading) on the bed rails. but I dunno.
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Old 08-28-2014, 05:23 PM   #17
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For what it's worth, my experience is that (city driving, at least) anything you can do like this is utterly dwarfed by the effects of red lights...

I got one of the OBD port readers several months ago, and played with it on my way to and from work to try to figure out what affected gas mileage. I tried accelerating slowly, accelerating quickly, lowering my top speed, timing red lights, etc. I recently got ladder racks for carrying kayaks, and watched the effect they had on my mileage.

Best I can figure, obvious things help. Slow down, don't accelerate too quickly, etc. If your habits were like mine, you can probably knock 10 or 15% off your gas bill simply by taking your time. But none of them help as much as avoiding red lights... The change I saw from whatever technique I tried was insignificant compared to the difference between days when I got most of the lights green and the days when I got most of the lights red.
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Old 08-28-2014, 05:27 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbailey View Post
For what it's worth, my experience is that (city driving, at least) anything you can do like this is utterly dwarfed by the effects of red lights...

I got one of the OBD port readers several months ago, and played with it on my way to and from work to try to figure out what affected gas mileage. I tried accelerating slowly, accelerating quickly, lowering my top speed, timing red lights, etc. I recently got ladder racks for carrying kayaks, and watched the effect they had on my mileage.

Best I can figure, obvious things help. Slow down, don't accelerate too quickly, etc. If your habits were like mine, you can probably knock 10 or 15% off your gas bill simply by taking your time. But none of them help as much as avoiding red lights... The change I saw from whatever technique I tried was insignificant compared to the difference between days when I got most of the lights green and the days when I got most of the lights red.
That's really true, regardless of whether you're towing or not. When I used to have to commute across town for work, if I left at 6:30 I averaged 20 mpg. If I left at 7:30, I averaged 16. The difference was the stop and go traffic from rush hour.
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Old 08-28-2014, 05:29 PM   #19
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Doug, I read once quite a while ago, about how much energy is saved when a city installs computer operated traffic lights to minimize stop and go traffic. Wish I had bookmarked it as it seemed like quite an amazing figure.
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Old 08-28-2014, 05:50 PM   #20
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I wish that all car makers would learn from the hybrid manufacturers. I'm on my 2nd Honda hybrid. (Civic with cvt, CR-Z with 6 speed) When you stop at a light, the engine shuts off. 47 & 43 mpg for around town, stop and go driving. After learning how to drive a hybrid with light acceleration and being aware as you approach red lights and keep speed down, I was able to average 15.5 towing our 19' with a GMC Acadia for 6,700 miles back from Chilliwack.
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