Reducing Vehicle Drag

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Reducing Vehicle Drag

People do not realize it but vehicle drag is a big factor in your fuel economy. Hitch a trailer to the back of your vehicle and see your fuel economy drop.

What about trucks that pull trailers all day? Many solutions have been found. One is presented here below just so you can see how a simple idea can save $$$ and fuel.


What is Airtabs™ and how does it work?

A company called Aerospace Technologies Ltd. developed a number of years ago an interesting product called Airtabs™.

As vehicles go down the road, air rushes in the back of the vehicle to fill out the space that was just vacated. With the typical square and flat back of a truck or trailer, the incoming air has to make a sharp bend which creates a lot of drag and turbulence. This takes engine power to overcome, and therefore fuel.

Anyone who has driven behind a tractor trailer when it is raining has witnessed first hand the turbulent mass of airborne water behind the trailer. Wind resistance can account for over 50% of the engine load at highway speeds.

Top view of a truck without Airtabs

The installation of small ABS plastic airflow streamliners (vortex generators) called Airtabs™ around the trailing edge of a vehicle creates controlled swirls of air.

These vortices reduce wind resistance (or aerodynamic drag) that is present behind each vehicle. Since less effort is required to overcome this drag, it results in fuel savings. It also dramatically reduces the 'fish tailing' on trailers and can have a tremendous impact on the handing of double trailers. The rear of the vehicle is kept cleaner since less road grime is lifted up. Tire life is also increased.

An interesting video showing a simulation of the before and the after flow on a tractor and trailer truck is available on the video page on the Airtab web site.

What vehicle can use Airtabs™ and what do they look like?

Airtabs™ are designed to work on trucks, trailers, straight trucks, cargo vans, RVs and Buses... basically any big box going down the road at highway speeds.

Each Airtabs™ measures 4.76” long, by 3.25” wide, and stick out only 1" and can easily be installed. They come in black or white and can be painted over using any automotive paint.

Three are put per linear foot, down the sides and across the top at the back of the vehicle.

People have also started putting it on the hoods of their vehicles to reduce the number of bugs on the windshield and to reduce the airflow noise when the windows are open.


Benefits of using Airtabs™

Here is a summary of the benefits on installing Airtabs™ as outlined by the company's web site:

  • fuel savings of 2% to 4%
  • clients consistently see 30,000-mile increase in steering tire life
  • Reduced splash and spray
  • Improved visibility in rain and snow.
  • Reduced cross wind effects
  • Reduced driver fatigue
  • Reduced Dirt Build up
  • A cleaner truck gives an improved image

For more information, you can go to the company web site at




Last modified: January 8, 2016