When I was a kid, $1.30 a gallon for gas was considered expensive.
Oh, how times have changed, and boy, they sure changed us.
I grew up working at my dad’s full-service gas station. I stocked pop when I was six, pumped gas when I was 8, changed tires when I was 12 and changed oil starting at 14.
For those early years, gas seemed to bounce around the buck-a-gallon mark, hitting about $1.20 or so in the winter and dropping to the mid-to-high .90s in summertime. Those were good times, and no one ever worried about fuel economy all that much. They drove giant pickups and massive sedans up to the pump, told me to “Fill ‘er up,” and then paid their bills.
Customers with a tighter budget would hand me a $5 bill and get just that much gas — and then they could actually get somewhere and make it back with that much fuel.
I have a clear memory of one summer day the history teacher at the middle school came by for gas and pointed at our sign, which said 87-octane unleaded gas was for sale at 88.9 cents per gallon.
“See that, Logan?” he said. “Mark my words. You will never see gas that cheap ever again.”
He was right.
A few years later, I bought my first car right before I turned 14 (you read that right) and, not-so-lucky for me, gas prices started going up right about that time. I remember paying $1.80 a gallon that summer to fill my tank and feeling like I was getting robbed.
Each year after that, gas prices got even higher. My dad had to get a new gas-price sign because the old one didn’t even have a “2” for the dollar amount. We had to be careful to run the gas pumps at their slowest setting because running them at full tilt would push the mechanical computers inside to spin so fast we were scared the gears would break.
Fourteen years later, I’m paying $3.60 a gallon at the pump and grateful I’m not paying $4 or more. What I’d give to see a pump charging $1.80 a gallon.
But the rise in gas prices has led to a sea change in automotive design. I never saw pickups advertise their fuel economy figures when I was a kid, but today you’ll see every automaker touting their improved fuel economy numbers with their trucks. You’re also seeing a lot of R&D going into better diesel engines, hybrid powerplants and alternative fuels.
It’s easy to be wowed by each bump in mileage for tiny little cars, but pay close attention to the improvements coming in new pickup models. The gains made in those numbers will really save a remarkable amount of fuel.
Imagine two vehicles that have to make a 1,000-mile trip: a coupe that gets 35 mpg, and a pickup that gets 18 mpg. If you boost the coupe’s fuel economy to 37 mpg, it’ll save 1.5 gallons. But if you boost that pickup to 20 mpg, it’ll save 5.5 gallons of gas for that trip.
Now add up those kinds of numbers and consider the number of miles those vehicles will travel in their lifetimes.
There are some cool ideas coming out of our automakers, and with demand for fuel efficiency likely to keep growing, I expect they’ll keep improving.
My first truck was a gas hog – it got maybe 14 miles per gallon on a perfect day but was more like 8 mpg in winter. The one fuel-economy fix that did work with that truck was when I left it parked and ran my errands by bicycle. I’d tell you the mpg I got then, but I’d have to divide by zero.
My second truck does a much better job. It’s 12 years newer than my first pickup, has a bigger engine displacement and weighs about 2,000 pounds more. But it gets much better mileage. I get about 14.5 mpg on average, and in perfect weather, I’ve broken 20 mpg.
This happens because my current truck has a decade more of research and development in it compared to my first one. It’s got a newer design and variable cam timing.
It also came with a tonneau cover — something my first truck lacked.
A 1997 study by a pair of students at Western New England College found that adding a tonneau to a pickup cut its coefficient of drag by close to 12 percent. A 2007 SEMA study also found that tonneau covers make pickups more efficient.
To get an idea of how much a tonneau cover can save you on fuel, check out this calculator. According to this calculator, my cover is saving me more than $200 in gas each year.
I was curious about whether the tonneau made such a difference, so I removed it and drove around without it for a few weeks earlier this year, and the decision cost me. My fuel economy dropped nearly a whole 1 mpg. I was glad to get a tonneau back on that truck right away.
Have you tried a tonneau cover and noticed a change in fuel economy? Let us know in the comments.
Here’s what Todd said about his experience with this tonneau cover:
“This is the best upgrade I’ve done to my truck. Purchased in 2009. I’ve had 8 inches of snow and zero leaks. I can roll up in an instant to load large items with ease and place under the cover and not worry because this cover keeps the elements out. I live in the Pacific North West and I have tested this throughly. I will always own an ACCESS cover because they are the best. It is nice to be driving around town and if I want to stop at the gravel or topsoil/ bark pit I can just pull up and roll up and the loader can dump in and off I go. Thank you.”
We often get asked how long our roll-up covers will last. That’s a really hard question to answer with any certainty because how long one of our covers — or any tonneau cover, for that matter — will last depends on how well the owner cares for it.
We build our covers to last as long as possible, but it’s up to you how many years of service you get out of your cover. We recommend two steps to help your cover last as long as possible.
Keep it tight, and I mean drum tight. A loose cover will flap about in the wind and wear out prematurely. All ACCESS® Roll-Up Covers have built-in tension adjsuters that let you set the cover’s tightness. Just roll up the cover, add or reduce some tension by turning the dial, and unroll the cover to check the fit and tightness. Repeat and adjust as needed.
Keep the cover clean and use the right cleaner. Ultraviolet rays never take a day off, so we recommend using ACCESS™ Cover Care™ Cleaner to clean and protect your cover.
But here is a case study into how long an ACCESS Roll-Up Cover can last. Take a look at this photo:
This photo was sent to us by John N. in Minnesota in July 2013. Here’s what he had to say:
“I purchased my Access Cover from you in November 1995 for my new 1996 Chevrolet pickup. I wanted to tell you how well your product has held up to the harsh environment here in Minnesota.
“I was a pilot for Northwest Airlines and my truck sat in the employee parking lot for …at least half of every month. It was out in the elements, no covered parking. Also my truck has 160,000 miles on it so your cover took a lot of wind buffeting. After all this time your cover is completely serviceable and still looks good. I replaced the Velcro once.
“This fall I am purchasing a 2014 Chevrolet pickup and the first thing I will do is buy one of your covers for it.”
To install the front mount hitch for the SNOWSPORT® HD Utility Plow, plan about 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on your level of experience. From there the blade attaches in minutes. Here is a video that details the assembly steps for the HD Utility Plow:
If the birds are calling you, wait no longer, the season is here. All across the United States, hunters are gearing up to go after waterfowl like ducks and geese and upland birds like quail, sharptail grouse and pheasants.
Check with your local department of natural resources or fish and game commission for any regulations that may have changes since last year. Being prepared for the seasons means more than having the latest gear and a well-trained dog in the field.
If you haven’t found yourself on the field yet this season, you will have some work to do. After you’ve secured your hunting license and all stamps for the year, make sure you have all your gear ready to go. After plenty of training, your hunting dog will be ready to head out as the sun rises to get some of the best game early in the season. If you’re in a new location or just picking up the sport, check the regulations on time of day open to hunting. Also, if you’re hunting waterfowl over decoys, be sure to account for travel time and how long it will take to set up your spread when deciding what time to set your alarm clock for.
There are two good pickup accessories available to help you when you get to the field. First, consider creating extra storage compartments in your pickup box using ACCESS™ Truck Bed Pockets. The pockets are great for smaller items like boxes of shells, decoy bags and boots. You will know where to grab for your gear in a rush and your bed won’t be cluttered.
Second, if you’re setting up decoys before dawn, consider an ACCESS™ LED Light for your pickup bed. The light can work with any 12-volt power source and casts a powerful floodlight so you don’t have to fumble in the dark trying to find decoy parts or other bits of gear.
Although you may have most of your ducks in a row, make a mental checklist before you head out for a long day. Always pack an emergency/first aid kit, binoculars, knife, whistle, decoys, gloves, and food and water for your dog.
A good question to ask when choosing a tonneau cover is what sort of work will the truck — and especially the bed — be doing? This is important if you ever want to tow a trailer using a 5th-wheel or gooseneck hitch.
All ACCESS® Roll-Up Covers are designed to roll up out of the way whenever you need complete use of your pickup’s bed.
That means that all you have to do is roll the cover to the front of your truck box and secure it with the straps any time you want to hook your pickup to a trailer using a gooseneck or 5th-wheel hitch (assuming you already have that hitch installed).
ACCESS® Roll-Up Covers are built this way so you never need to remove the cover and frame to carry a large load. Just roll the cover up and you’re ready.
And once you’ve reached the campsite and parked the trailer, the cover rolls out flat to protect any cargo from the elements while you’re out getting supplies or exploring. Since you never have to remove the tonneau cover for large loads or towing, covering the bed up again is simple.