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Are Teardrop Trailers Aerodynamic?

The answer is yes for some and no for others. The traditional teardrop gets its name from its shape. Looks just like a teardrop.  Teardrop trailers evolved from the 1930s and became popular in the 1940’2 after the war. Built with surplus military parts. The aluminum skins were crafted from the wings of world war bombers which gave them their shiny exterior. Teardrops started as DIY projects which allowed so many designs that never really had a standard. Some traditionalists will even go so far as to paint their teardrops to match the tow vehicle creating a custom matched set.

Think of the wind as a wall. At high speeds, air resistance can create a tremendous influence on the way a vehicle accelerates, handles, and fuel efficiency. For a long time cars have been designed with aerodynamics in mind pare that with an aerodynamically designed trailer should increase performance. Rounding the edges to control the wind resistance improves airflow and should improve sway. If you are towing with a low profile vehicle and your trailer sets way above it in height you could hit a wall of wind which could create quite a bit of drag. I think it’s worth trying to pick a trailer design that works well with the tow vehicle’s height and width. Image towing a trailer that’s quite a bit wider than the tow vehicle. Again there’ll be wind drag along with blocking your ability to see out your mirrors. Think of your vehicle and trailer as a system. A streamlined package will perform better.

The teardrop shape

The teardrop shape considers the air stream to remain attached for as long as possible which diminishes drag, and the more prolonged the teardrop, the more drawn out the air stream remains attached. As wing perspective proportion builds, the drag diminishes. The circular shape gives the ideal lift circulation giving maximum aerodynamic efficiency (comparable effects can be found by utilizing a tapered wing which is a lot simpler to make however it’s marginally less effective).

The trucking industry in Europe has been using teardrop-shaped trailers since 2007 because it showed compelling benefits. The aerodynamics of a curved roofline reduced drag by 35% compared to a standard trailer. The aerodynamic benefit increases with speed. On trucks, the streamline effect minimizes the turbulence caused by the sudden change between the truck and the trailer. The fuel savings here includes a C02 reduction of up to 20%. This kind of speaks to making sure your tow vehicle and trailer’s shape and size play nice together. As trailers add more and more features they get taller and taller. It’s definitely something to consider when choosing your trailer. After all, if it’s feature-packed but difficult to travel with you will hate it.

Are aerodynamic trailers cheaper to tow?

We’ve learned from watching long haul truckers that aerodynamics do matter. We’ve all seen the spoilers and deflectors they use to control airflow. Well, the shape of a traditional teardrop does the same. If the design of the trailer is lower than the tow vehicle’s roof line and not wider the tow vehicle you can realize some fuel savings.

Think of the wind as a wall. At high speeds, air resistance can create a tremendous influence on the way a vehicle accelerates, handles, and fuel efficiency.

Teardrop trailers are very lightweight which has more to do with fuel-saving than aerodynamics. The teardrop was designed to be pulled by most cars or trucks. Depending on if you load the heck out of your trailer with significant additional weight can an impact on fuel economy.  Good driving habits can also contribute to better gas mileage. Things like keeping a steady pace, gradually accelerating, and sticking to the speed limit also contribute to better fuel economy. When you on flat roads use cruise control.

Affect on the environment

If you’re concerned about environmental impact improving your gas mileage through aerodynamics will reduce carbon. Through studies done by the trucking industry, they’ve found improving aerodynamics did improve fuel efficiency. In fact, it is a requirement by the EPA.  The EPA concludes that the pursuit of fuel economy improvements leads to greenhouse gas emissions decrease through the use of trailer aerodynamics. Since the 1970’s significant gains in efficiency have been made through improvements in aerodynamics. By virtue of the teardrops shape the reduction in environmental impact is much less but every little bit helps.

Specialty trailers

Today many “teardrops have gone far beyond the traditional shapes allowing for innovative design and features. If you need a trailer that can keep pace with your aggressive four-wheel-drive expeditions then aerodynamics might not be as much of a consideration. Off-road or overland trailers are made for the most extreme elements and not necessarily for traveling the highway for great distances. These trailers feature increased ground clearance, reinforced suspension,  all-metal powder-coated frames, off-road tires, articulating 360-degree hitch, and a price tag to go with it. These are not aerodynamic but they don’t necessarily need to be. These trailers can exceed 3,000 lbs. easily and would require a substantial tow vehicle.

Other teardrops that include say a bathroom is probably more suited for a truck tow vehicle as they are taller and heavier. For the average camper, these are overkill even though they are very cool indeed.

There’s a lot to choose from nowadays and I suggest you look at the total package of your tow vehicle and trailer, where you’re going to use it the most, and what you what your travel budget to be.