Why Do People Take the Tailgate Off Their Trucks?

Trucks come with tailgates – that’s a given fact. They are an integral part of your truck body, designed to keep your cargo safely inside the truck and in place.

Tailgates – or liftgates, as they are also known as – are designed to help when you are loading or unloading your cargo, especially at locations where there are no docks or forklifts available. 

Tailgates also work as the doorway to your truck bed. When opened, they create a space that makes it easier to get into the truck bed, and creates an illusion of more space.

Moreover, opening up the tailgate helps when you are carrying cargo that doesn’t fit inside the truck bed, but is longer than the length of the bed. You see this with trucks that are transporting furniture, pipes, wood or something similar.

If the cargo is tied securely, it can be considered quite safe to keep the tailgate open even when carrying cargo. 

However, sometimes, you’ll see drivers taking off the tailgates of their trucks, and there’s a very important reason behind this. 

Truck drivers are known to keep their tailgates open or take them off completely on the run when their truck bed is empty. This is because they mistakenly think that it improves fuel efficiency. There’s a common misconception that taking off the tailgate will result in an increased overflow in the truck bed, which will make the truck more aerodynamic and use less fuel per mileage. 

We can see a lot of truck beds without tailgates on the road for this exact reason, but the truth is, there is no relationship between taking off the tailgates of a truck and increased fuel efficiency. 

What are Tailgates and why Are They Present in Trucks?

If you ever approach any truck from the back, you’ll find what is known as the tailgate. This is the part of the truck that covers the back of the truck bed, an extra part hinged to the main bed that can be lowered when needed.

They are usually hinged to the bottom of the truck and attached with heavy duty cables, so that they can be unlocked and pulled open downwards with very limited force needed. 

The cables are extremely sturdy and can support a lot of weight. This is one of the reasons that tailgates are sometimes kept open for people to sit on it on the road, when the rest of the truck bed is filled with cargo.

Anyone can stand on, sit on or walk on tailgates without any chance of it breaking off or getting damaged. 

What are the Different Types of Tailgates?

From the viewpoint of how you open or close it, tailgates are actually of two types: manual and electric tailgates. The names are pretty self-explanatory. 

Manual tailgates are the ones that need to be manually unlocked, opened and closed, and the electric tailgates can be operated by pressing a button on the key fob of your truck or pressing a button inside the key. 

With some electric tailgates, it can be operated by pressing a key inside the handle of the tailgate or by activating a built-in sensor under the rear bumper of the truck with a foot. 

Even when it needs to be manually operated, it is very simple and easy to open/close a tailgate. 

What are Tailgates in Trucks Used for?

A tailgate is simply the rear door or the back cover of a truck, but sometimes – in particular models, the tailgates can be moved up and down for loading or unloading cargo.

Especially in situations where there are no forklifts or docks available, some tailgates can be used to carry cargo up and down without having to do it manually. 

However, in most trucks, tailgates act as simple doors to the back and can be lowered only to create an opening. They cannot be – manually or automatically – lowered or brought upward to carry cargo. 

At the same time, tailgates can also be unhinged and removed from the truck bed, which is something a lot of drivers and truck owners do sometimes. 

Why do people leave their tailgates down?

According to some truck manufacturers, leaving the tailgate locked and upwards in its original place when the truck is on the road can actually create a rigid boxed up section at the back of the truck, which can absorb the shock of being hit from the behind. This is the way that tailgates in trucks should ideally be used. 

However, there is a myth among drivers that keeping the tailgate down can help save gas. According to them, leaving the tailgate down increases the airflow towards the back. It makes the truck more aerodynamic.

Keeping the tailgate down is thus theoretically important if you want to increase your truck’s fuel efficiency and get more mileage per hour. 

Does Leaving the Tailgate Down Save Gas? 

If doing this does save gas, it’s going to be an extremely low number, i.e. less than a few cents per hour. Compared to the accident hazard this creates on the road, it’s not very efficient to leave your tailgate down without any specific reason just because you want to save some fuel. 

In fact, in some cases, it has been seen that removing the tailgate or keeping in down might actually hurt fuel efficiency. By testing the 2013 Dodge Ram VB, it was concluded in an experiment that the truck got 22.3 mpg with the tailgate up and 21.5 mpg after dropping the tailgate down.

Although the difference is small and almost insignificant, it is nevertheless proof that keeping the tailgate down or removing it doesn’t help fuel efficiency in any way. 

Should I remove my Tailgate?

If you are worried about your fuel efficiency or if you want to save on your gas expenditure, there’s a better way to do it instead of taking down your tailgate.

The best way to do this should be by placing a full-size tonneau cover on your truck bed that is completely covered at all times when your truck is on the road.

Keeping your truck bed covered with a lightweight but sturdy tailgate is what’s going to help save your fuel – even though it’s going to save just a little bit – instead of removing your tailgate. 

At the same time, a tonneau cover is also a much smarter choice, as it can also be used to keep your cargo covered and protected from outside elements. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): 

  • What is the Difference between a Tailgate and a Liftgate? 

The basic difference between a tailgate and a liftgate is that you need to lift a liftgate upwards, whereas a tailgate is lowered downwards. 

Besides, tailgates are mostly found in pickup trucks, mini trucks, trucks and a few models of SUVs, and they are used for loading or unloading cargo. A liftgate, on the other hand, is a steady presence in most crossovers, SUVs and hatchback sedans. 

  • Do People Steal the Tailgates from Trucks? 

Although tailgates are securely attached to the truck bed, it is of course possible for it to get stolen. In fact, it is very easy for a person or a group to remove the tailgate from your truck in less than a few minutes if they have all the necessary tools at hand. 

Conclusion

Although it is a common myth among truck owners and truck drivers that removing your tailgate will make your vehicle more fuel efficient, it is not a correct assumption. If anything, it increases a chance of accidents on the road, both for your truck and the vehicle right behind it. 

A better way to make sure you’re getting the highest amount of mileage per hour would be not to remove the tailgate, but to attach a tonneau cover to your truck bed.

This way, your truck bed and your cargo would stay covered and protected, and your truck will see a small but noticeable improvement in fuel efficiency. 

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