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5th Wheel Tailgates Give You Clearance And Aerodynamics

Dropping your tailgate just to hook up your 5th wheel is a drag. We discuss tailgates with special cutouts designed to be left up while using 5th wheel trailers.

If you own a pickup with a 5th wheel towing hitch installed in the pickup bed, then you know you need to lower your tailgate whenever you are connecting or disconnecting the trailer from the hitch. If you forget to lower the tailgate? You're buying a replacement.

Some owners, tired of the inconvenience, remove the tailgate. One problem is that you then have a tailgate-less pickup for the times when you are not trailering. Because of aerodynamics, complete removal of the tailgate creates more wind drag and reduces fuel economy - costing you significantly as you drive the miles. And paying a body shop to customize your tailgate with a cutout section for the trailer's 5th wheel connection is also quite expensive. We offer a better solution.

An example of a 5th wheel hitch mounted in the bed of a working person's pickup truck.
As this picture shows, 5th wheel towing usually requires costly customization of factory tailgates for clearance. We offer replacement tailgates already shaped for the job that add style while reducing weight and improving airflow.

In this article, we'll discuss replacement tailgates that are designed with the cutouts you need for 5th wheel trailer towing. The products we offer in the 5th Wheel Tailgate section of our website are built for a lifetime of corrosion resistance and feature ventilated louver designs. Not only do these tailgate sections look stylish, they help improve aerodynamics while towing a trailer. You can choose tailgates made of aluminum for lighter weight or galvanized steel for heavy-duty strength. Some offer the option of removable insert pieces that fill in the indented area of the tailgate for a more complete look when you want it.

Fuel Economy

Much has been written about how tailgates affect pickup truck economy, and there are many conflicting opinions about it. Auto manufacturers who have performed drag tests using the most sophisticated wind tunnels in the world have found that air drag actually increases when an OEM-style tailgate is left down. The reason? Rather than serving as a brick wall for air to slam into, a tailgate in the up position actually creates a bubble of air which flows like a circular vortex within the bed. The resulting pressure difference makes the pickup more aerodynamic by up to 1 percent. To test this, the Myth Busters television show on Discovery once drove two identical pickups side by side on a track (one with tailgate up and one with tailgate down) to see which one used up a completely full tank of gas first. The one with the tailgate down lost. Naturally, this is the reason NASCAR pickup series races are run with tailgates up.

OEM Style Tailgate
As this picture shows, a pickup truck with no trailer develops a rotating vortex of air in the bed area which reduces drag if a solid, OEM-style tailgate is in the up position. Tow a trailer, and ventilated tailgate designs become optimal for airflow.

However, experts agree that aerodynamics change when towing a trailer. They recommend using louvered tailgates, because airflow is better directed around the trailer instead of plowing right into it. Pickup truck owners using louvered tailgates have reported mileage gains which will vary depending on pickup configuration, design, speed traveled, and trailer weight.

If best value is important in your selection of a ventilated louver tailgate, the Custom Flow Elite Series 5th Wheel Tailgate is made from galvanized steel that offers high rigidity and strength along with excellent corrosion protection. Longevity is increased thanks to its black powder coat finish. Powder coating is a durable finish that looks like paint, but features a harder surface that offers superior resistance to chips, scratches, pitting, and fading compared to paint. Note that you have the option to paint the tailgate to match your truck. A locking latch comes with two keys, and a matching insert piece is available for the cut-down center area. Should you prefer Custom Flow's design and features in a traditional rectangular-shape tailgate with no center drop area, see the Elite Series Regular Tailgate.

The Custom Flow Elite 5th Wheel Tailgate offers value with high-strength construction from galvanized steel.
The Custom Flow Elite Series 5th Wheel Tailgate is shown here with optional insert piece for use when you're not towing.

If you're looking to step up to lighter weight aluminum construction, the Husky Liners 5th Wheel Tailgate tips the scales at approximately half of what a typical factory tailgate weighs. It comes in a bright anodized silver finish and is equipped with a locking latch and two keys. If you have a Chevy or GMC pickup with the factory backup camera, an optional Backup Camera Mount is available.

Should you prefer Custom Flow's tailgate design in a traditional rectangular-shape without center drop area, see the Elite Series Regular Tailgate.
The Husky Liners 5th Wheel Tailgate features aluminum construction with bright anodized silver finish. Attached to the tailgate is an optional backup camera mounting piece.

The Dee Zee Louvered Flow-Thru Tailgate is made from durable, lightweight aluminum and comes in a choice of textured black or silver powder coat finish. This tailgate includes gas strut dampers which allow the tailgate to glide open slowly - giving you the luxury of freedom from hinge damage caused by sudden, accidental drops. While the other 5th wheel tailgates we sell offer locking latches, this one distinguishes itself with lock tumblers that learn the shape of your existing vehicle key so it can be used in the tailgate as well. In the Product Options field, you'll also see DeeZee's optional black powder coated insert piece.

DeeZee's Louvered Flow-Thru Tailgate is available in silver (shown here) or black powder coat finish.
DeeZee's optional insert piece, shown in contrasting black.

If you own a pickup truck with a 5th wheel hitch already installed, you owe it to yourself to discover all the advantages of a 5th wheel tailgate. If you are currently in the market for a 5th wheel hitch, please don't forget to factor in a replacement tailgate in your purchase. The two products are made for each other!

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