Replacing the tailgate as a fuel economy measure?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

My grandson removed the tail gate from his brand new Mazda pick up truck and replaced it with some kind of webbing. It looks like hell. When I questioned him as to why he put this netting on, his reply was "to cut air resistance." My God! I'm an old coyote, and it just didn't make any sense to me. I love reading your column. You're not only funny, but also know a lot about cars. Can one really save on gasoline consumption by removing the tail gate?

RAY: I believe one can, Rudy. What your grandson did was replace a solid piece of metal, which stops air, with a piece of plastic netting, which allows air to blow through it. I haven't seen any wind tunnel research to back this up (and air CAN do funny things around cars and trucks), but it makes sense to me that it you cut the wind resistance, you improve fuel efficiency.

TOM: As for the looks, well, that could just be one of those generation things, Rudy. For instance, my younger brother keeps telling me that my hair-do looks ridiculous.

RAY: But then again, my generation was never into the Don King-look.

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