More from: pickup trucks

Why Headache Racks: The Definitive Answer

If we earned $100 every time a new flatbed truck driver asked us how the headache rack got its name, we might not have to sell trucking supplies to stay in business. Be that as it may, the question about the name of headache racks is as old as the rack itself.

For the record, a headache rack is a large piece of steel or aluminum mounted on the back of a truck cab. You see them on 18 wheelers and larger pickup trucks. Professional truck drivers often use their headache racks as a place to hang their chains and bungee straps.

For the remainder of this post, we want to talk about the name ‘headache rack’ and where it came from. If you are looking for a definitive answer, we have it: there is no definitive answer.

Protecting the Driver from Renegade Cargo

The first explanation of the headache rack name has to do with renegade cargo crashing through the back of a truck cab and injuring the driver. For a long time, there was a popular article circulating on the internet claiming that both the name and the device itself goes back to the days when surfing first became popular.

As the thinking goes, the racks were installed on pickup trucks to prevent harm to drivers if a surfboard were to break loose and crash through the back window. There’s only one problem with this theory: headache racks were around before surfing became popular. Second, you can spend all day traversing the roads of California and Hawaii, and you will probably never see a pickup truck with a headache rack carrying a load of surfboards.

There are other stories that use the same general theme without specifically referencing surfboards. The general idea being that headache racks are really the domain of pickup truck drivers attempting to protect their own heads.

Giving the Driver Headache

The second explanation is one that makes more sense where truck drivers are concerned. This explanation suggests that drivers, while working around their rigs securing cargo or doing maintenance, have a tendency to hit their heads on the metal racks. Unwittingly striking your head on such a large piece of metal would undoubtedly result in a headache.

If you are a professional truck driver, you are familiar with the scenario described here. Every truck driver has done it at least once, and many of you know drivers who do it routinely. Some hit their head so often that they have permanent marks. It is not a pleasant experience, to say the least.

We Have What You Need

The definitive answer about why headache racks are called as such is clear: there is no definitive answer. Therefore, there is no need for truck drivers to dispute or debate any longer. Far better to put your energies into being better drivers capable of delivering loads on time and in good condition.

As for the headache racks themselves, rest assured that Mytee Products has what you need. We have seven different models to fit a variety of needs and styles. We also carry installation kits, chain hangers, light brackets, and even tarp trays.

Your headache rack does not have to give you a headache at the time of purchase. Just shop the Mytee Products inventory to find what you’re looking for, make a quick purchase, and relax while we ship it right to your door. You’ll be protecting your head, or injuring it, in no time at all.


Do Truck Tarps Really Save Gas?

A test done in the late 1990s to determine if gas was being wasted by open pickup truck beds resulted in the conclusion that adding a tarp or tonneau cover could significantly reduce drag and increase gas mileage. That study was seized upon by cover makers who suddenly found an entire market of customers willing to buy their products. A similar study was conducted 10 years later, reaching the same conclusion. However, we wonder whether these glorified tarps for trucks really do save that much gas or not.

Let’s be honest; long haul truck drivers use flatbed truck tarps on their trailers to protect the cargo. They are not being used to reduce drag or save on gas. Even dump trucks that make use of tarps do so to prevent the cargo underneath from coming loose in the wind and striking unfortunate passenger vehicles. These are not used to save gas. Yet pickup truck drivers seem to be stuck on the idea that a tarp or tonneau cover is more fuel-efficient.

The original numbers used to justify truck tarps and tonneau covers came from the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and their two tests we previously mentioned. However, other tests have been done, one most recently by Consumer Reports, which casts real doubt on the idea of improving mileage with tonneau covers and tarps for trucks.

flatbed-tarp

The problem with the SEMA studies is that they only looked at drag and aerodynamics. They never actually tested any vehicles under real world conditions, including measuring how much fuel was used at different rates of speed. They simply assumed that by reducing drag, fuel mileage would increase. That makes sense, right? It turns out it’s probably not true.

Consumer Reports Testing

If you know anything about Consumer Reports magazine, you know it is published by a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide unbiased information not influenced by product manufacturers. They test all sorts of things from home electronics to vehicles to appliances. In 2013, they put the truck tarp/gas mileage theory to the test. They tested pickup trucks under four scenarios:

  • Open bed, tailgate up
  • Open bed, tailgate down
  • Covered bed, tailgate up
  • Covered bed, tailgate down.

The results of the Consumer Reports test startled many pickup truck drivers. Why? Because putting a tonneau cover or tarp on the back of a pickup truck appears to actually decrease fuel mileage pretty significantly. The magazine didn’t explain why, they just provide the raw data; data that showed covering the back of your truck actually make things worse in terms of gas mileage.

Tarps Are Still Useful

Now that we have completely ruined your day by telling you tonneau covers and truck tarps do not save gas, we don’t want you to assume that they do not have any value. They do. Tarps can be very useful for a number of things, whether you drive a pickup truck, a dump truck, or a semi.

For example, a tarp on the back of your truck is a great way to protect cargo underneath from sun, rainfall, and flying debris. Truck drivers use them all the time to protect valuable cargo until they drop a load. And of course, you might use them with your own pickup truck when you’re moving your house.

Tarps are also valuable for protecting other drivers from your cargo. At highway speeds, things can come loose a lot easier than you might think. A tarp keeps everything intact so that you are not endangering the welfare of others.

Tarps for trucks do have their place. A place that is just not gas mileage improvement.