Do rooftop tents use more fuel?

Posted by tom on: October 13, 2022

Will the fuel consumption of the car increase after the roof tent is installed? 

The fuel consumption of the high-speed 120/km can be increased by about 1 liter compared to that without a tent, and the overall fuel consumption increase is not obvious, which is within an acceptable range.

A Rooftop Tent on a black car. Overall views.

How Much Does A Rooftop Tent Kill Your Fuel Economy?

22.3 MPG without Rooftop Tent

18.5 MPG with Rooftop Tent

17% Difference

It’s imperative to know how much carrying a rooftop tent will affect your fuel consumption before purchasing one for your next camping adventure.

Fortunately, some data is available that demonstrates an estimate of just how much more fuel your vehicle is going to use when hauling a rooftop tent.

A Rooftop Tent on a car in wild, next to a camping fire.

Your car will likely experience a drop in fuel economy with a rooftop tent in place; however, how much it drops will depend on various factors.

You can expect to spend more on gas if you have a rooftop tent installed, in all honesty.

Below we have compiled a quick list summarising what you should consider when figuring out how much more gas you will be using and how much more you will be spending:

  • The type of roof racks you are using.
  • The size and make of your rooftop tent and whether or not it is softshell or hardshell.
  • The model of the vehicle you have and how much fuel it usually uses without a load.
  • How you have placed the rooftop tent on your vehicle.
  • The way you drive your vehicle.
  • How much torque your car has.

The main reason for a car’s gas mileage being affected by a rooftop tent is because of the wind resistance it creates.

Some rooftop tents are not as aerodynamic as they could be, and as such, the drag of the car is negatively affected, which causes an increase in fuel consumption.

So we know that a rooftop ten affects our vehicle’s gas mileage, but do we know why, and does a rooftop tent affect other areas of a car’s performance? Primarily a vehicle’s center of gravity is affected.

Regardless of the type of car you have, you will notice that your vehicle’s center of gravity is affected when a rooftop tent has been installed.

When a rooftop tent has been mounted, the vehicle’s height is increased, which causes the car’s center of gravity to be affected.  When the center of gravity is altered, it reduces trail performance and the vehicle’s overall handling capabilities.

For some cars, driving around corners will slightly destabilize the vehicle, and extra attention would have to be paid to steer the vehicle.

However, it is beneficial to note that some cars retain their handling capabilities fairly well despite having a rooftop tent mounted to the roof.

A Rooftop Tent, opened rooftop tent overview.

As for whether to install a rooftop tent, it depends on your own needs. If you often go camping, installing a roof tent will be a good choice. But if you usually use your car for work, it is not necessary at all, because installing a tent will definitely increase the wind resistance of the roof, and the fuel consumption of the car will increase accordingly.

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