Mythbusters: The Tailgate Hypothesis

Anyone who’s seen me driving in my truck knows that I often like to leave the tailgate down when I’m driving. My friends used to think I was crazy because of this. Well, they were right.

Something I saw on Mythbusters tonight (on the Discovery Channel) just totally blew me away. They proved scientifically that driving a pickup with the tailgate down instead of up actually creates drag, while having the tailgate up REDUCES it! My dad told me years ago that it was the other way around, and I believed him, intuitively. It just made sense to me. But they showed that with the tailgate up, a sort of “vortex bubble” is created in the bed of the truck, like a sort of invisible shell of air slowly moving in a circular motion, which forces the fast air you encounter when driving to go over the tailgate entirely, eliminating drag. With the tailgate down, this bubble is gone, and the fast air is forced straight down onto the bed and gate, pushing the truck against the ground and creating drag.

Who’d a thunk it?


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