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Do Mud Flaps Reduce MPG?

When it comes to accessories for your pickup truck, there is no shortage of what you can equip it with. Some have much more practical uses than others, though these can sometimes come at an unexpected cost. If you are wondering if installing mud flaps might impact your gas mileage, we can help. We researched the science behind it so that you'll know for sure what to expect.

Mud flaps create a bit of wind resistance. This extra amount of drag on your vehicle will make the engine work a bit harder to propel the vehicle forward, thus decreasing your miles per gallon.

Now that we know that mud flaps can reduce your miles per gallon, we'll look at a way that this impact can be greatly reduced. You might also be curious if mud flaps are important or if you need mud flaps on your front tires. For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post to see what our research has uncovered.

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How to reduce the impact mud flaps have on your fuel economy

How to reduce the impact mud flaps have on your fuel economy, Do Mud Flaps Reduce MPG?

Vehicle manufacturers do their best to create designs that are as aerodynamic as possible. The less wind resistance a vehicle faces, the less the engine will have to work.

Anything that interferes with the air passing over and around the vehicle will make the engine work harder than it needs to, thus using up more of its fuel.

If you add certain accessories to a vehicle, it can create more wind resistance. You can also impact the fuel economy by hauling objects on the roof of a car or SUV or taller items in the bed of a pickup truck.

Mud flaps, while serving a useful purpose, will certainly interfere with airflow and reduce your miles per gallon. But there are ways to minimize just how much impact they will have.

Here, we'll take a look at the two best ways to reduce this wind resistance. The savings you'll get from better fuel economy will certainly add up over time. 

Consider mud flaps that are less wind resistant

There are mud flaps on the market that will interfere less with the airflow around the vehicle. One such product is Eco-Flap. These are aerodynamically designed with specially engineered curves that will allow the air to flow more around it than trying to blow through it.

This curvature also reduces the amount of buildup that can accumulate on a mudflap. Mud, snow, and other debris will hit the flap and glide to one side. From there, it will drop on the ground instead of sticking to the flap until gravity makes it fall from it and onto other vehicles.

These flaps are cost-efficient as well, making them a great consideration for fleet owners. They retail at under $40 per flap and are designed to last much longer than their counterparts. Most models are quick and easy to install as well.

Keep your mud flaps as clean as possible

Though most of what your tires spray onto the mud flaps will drop off them, not everything will do so immediately. Mud and snow in particular will tend to build up on the mud flaps, creating even more drag.

This happens more if you are driving in slower-moving traffic where the vibrations from the road and the crosswinds won't jar it loose.

If it's snowy or muddy, make it a point to knock the accumulated debris off your mud flaps when you get parked. This will lessen the weight and make the mudflap less wind resistant. The more that's stuck on the flaps, the less aerodynamic your vehicle will be!

Are mud flaps important to have?

Four wheel drive car splash guard

There are a lot of small particles on the roads that are stirred up by your tires and from the quick movement of your vehicle.

Whether it be small rocks, sand, snow, or mud, these things tend to spray in every imaginable direction. If they are allowed to do so, they can cause some damage to your vehicle as well as to others on the road.

Mud flaps will serve as a barrier, keeping the debris from spraying under your truck. This protects the undercarriage from immediate damage from rocks but also from gradual damage that might create rust. The bigger the vehicle and the bigger the tires on that vehicle, the more debris it will kick up. 

For that reason, many states will require trucks of a certain size to have mud flaps. These are not just for protecting the vehicles but for making everyone's driving a bit safer.

Do you need mud flaps on your front tires?

Mudflap on front wheels

Mud flaps installed behind the rear tires of a truck keep debris from being flung onto the traffic that is flowing behind it. So it's easy to see why you would want to have this accessory installed on your vehicle. But mud flaps aren't just made for the back tires.

Mud flaps or mudguards are also useful for the front tires. This keeps your vehicle protected. Think of all the chemicals that are used on the roads in snowy and icy weather. The rock salt and other road treatments are great for melting the elements but terrible for the metals your car is made from.

These front mud flaps help to keep these corrosive chemicals from spraying onto your vehicle's undercarriage.

While you should still routinely wash your vehicle in the winter when you can to rid the body of these materials, the front mud flaps will go a long way in protecting the underside of your vehicle from rusting.

Are mud flaps useful in the winter?

Vehicle use on winter road

Despite their name, mud flaps do more than just keep mud from spraying from your moving tires. These accessories also catch and deflect small rocks and other road debris. They are also great at keeping clumping snow from becoming more of a problem.

The tires will spray the snow back onto the mud flaps where it will accumulate before dropping onto the ground. This keeps giant globs of snow from shooting out and hitting the vehicles immediately behind yours. But they also are great in the winter for one additional reason.

As we mentioned earlier in this post, the chemicals used to treat the roads when it's snowy or icy are corrosive. These mud flaps will keep these chemicals from damaging the underside of your vehicle. Inspect your mud flaps routinely and be sure that your vehicle is winter ready with functional mud flaps.

Are mud flaps good for offroad? 

Dirty car mudflap on the front wheel

We know that mud flaps will do a great job of keeping road debris and mud from spraying behind your vehicle. But these accessories also work great if you take your truck off the paved roads. Certain driving conditions might make you do a bit more work, though.

Mud flaps are great for gravel and dirt roads. They keep gravel from shooting back and hitting the vehicles in the rear. These rocks won't accumulate, either. The mud you'll encounter from real off-roading is a different story.

Mud will build a lot faster than you might think on the mud flaps. While this mud will eventually fall off from gravity, it can accumulate to the point where there is a clog of mud that dries and touches the tires.

So if you go off-roading, be sure to clean the mud flaps off before you put the truck away for the day. This can be done with the spray from a garden hose or sometimes by merely kicking at the flaps until the drying mud comes off.

Final thoughts

Mud flaps will create some wind resistance, leading to a decrease in your fuel miles per gallon. There are better-designed mud flaps that are more aerodynamically designed to reduce this side effect, however.

Many states require these accessories on trucks to lessen the risk of flying debris onto other vehicles, but they are still a great item to have to protect your vehicle from damage. Drive safe!

We hope this post on mud flaps answered all of your questions. For more helpful information, we suggest reading the following posts:

 11 Best Ford F-150 Mud Flaps That Will Keep You Covered on Rainy Days

How Long Do Tires Last With Low Mileage?

Can Hot Or Cold Weather Cause The Check Engine Light To Come On?