BEEF Daily

Tailgate Up Or Down?


When you’re driving down a gravel road, do you leave your tailgate up or down?

Nothing says “country” quite like a pickup truck. The age-old debate about which make is better – Ford, Dodge or Chevy – continues among ranchers. But no matter where your loyalty lies, all pickups have one key thing in common -- the tailgate.

When I’m running parts, supplies or lunches out to the field, I usually leave the tailgate down. It’s quick and easy to throw things in the back, and since it’s only a quick trip, I don’t worry about things falling out. On the other hand, when I’m headed to town, the tailgate is always up.

My husband, on the other hand, absolutely will not drive the truck unless the tailgate is up. He worries about gravel getting thrown up and chipping the tailgate when he drives. Plus, he's usually hauling quite a few things in the back, so he worries about things slipping out.

When we were kids, my sisters and I would often enjoy rides in the field or pasture in the back of the truck, but the tailgate always had to be up, or Mom and Dad worried about us kids getting bucked out.

An article on Fox News asked the very important question, “Tailgate up or down?”

“It’s an age-old conundrum among pickup truck owners: tailgate up or down? We’re talking aerodynamics and fuel economy here, but without personal access to wind tunnels, the evidence most owners have to support their position is anecdotal, at best. Many split the difference between form and functionality, and replace the tailgate with an open net that lets the air through, but not their cargo.”

Obviously this isn’t a vitally important topic, but I thought it would be fun to talk it out. So, when Editor Joe Roybal sent me the link to this article, I knew it would make an interesting blog topic.

So, let me know in the comments section below, tailgate up or down? Also, I’m curious about what kind of pickup truck you use to run around the ranch.

We use four pickups on the ranch – 1974, 1979, 2003 and 2009 models – all of them Chevrolet. I guess that pretty much attests to my dad being a Chevy man. Meanwhile, my husband drives a 2003 Dodge truck, and I have my eye on a new Ford pickup. Yes, my family butts heads on their favorite brands, but that’s what makes life interesting, right?

So, from your old beaters to your church-going pickup, what do you use personally? Share in the comments section below.

By the way, check out this photo gallery of ugly pickups from Farm Industry News.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 20

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

MythBusters tested the effect of tailgate up vs. tailgate down on fuel efficiency, and discovered that tailgate up is more fuel efficient :)

RODNEY ECKHARDT (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

I train my dogs to jump on the truck only when the tailgate is down and to stay on when it is up. Also, it keeps all my junk on back.

Quade (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

My nice pickup is a 2000 F350 diesel. on it the tailgste is always up. I use a 1984 GMC, and a '98 2500 Cummins about the ranch. We have mostly Fords, but two dodge diesels are the primary ranch pickups. I prefer to have the tailgate up so it does not chip paint. But mostly my parents have flatbeds, which elimenates this particular question

Calli (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

Had an 1988 F-150 that worked really well on the farm. Always had the tailgate up unless I was hauling a chute to a show, then it was time for the tailgate to be down and straps to hold the chute in.

Now we use my dad's 2000 F-250 Manual pickup for a lot of the heavy work as well as my beloved 2007 F-150 for shows.

We are definitely a Ford family :)

Peter V. (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

Your blog is too funny! As a matter of record I drive with the tailgate up. However, the other day I was given a "gentle" reminder to strap cattle blocks down as they smacked into the front of the box and nearly took the back window out as I drove down a steep hill.

Leroy Getz (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

The tailgate on my 2007 st. cab GMC is always UP. The spray in bed liner keeps things from sliding around but I keep the gate latched. The dealer tells me his name wouldn't show if the gate were down, and I can't back into the shed with it down.

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

When all your trucks are flatbeds, you never have to argue about this! Haha!

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

In my part of the world you can tell the difference between a farmer and a Rancher because any rancher worth his salt uses a flatbed. As far as brands go, they all cost too much and fall apart too fast.

Midwest Farm Girl (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

I usually drive with the tailgate up just because there's usually a lot in the back. Also, I'm a Ford girl ;)

Steve Simpson (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

Tail gate up... keeps the beer cases loaded... hey, we saw Merle Haggard here last week... he did his Are-the-Good-Times-Really-Over song... sang: Wish a Ford and a Chevy still last 10 years... like a Dodge... got a good chuckle outa that.. then drove home in my F150.

Howard Hornsby (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

I drive an '05 Chevy 2500. Tailgate is always down on the farm so that the dogs can come and go. Always up off the farm because I train the dogs not to get out if it is up.

Ed (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

My ranch name, logo and phone number is on the tailgate (at stop lights it's free advertising). The tailgate is ALWAYS up

Duggins (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

If your unfortunate enough to have a plastic bedliner you'll learn to keep the tailgate up. I've had more things slide out the back than I care to admit.

on May 28, 2013

Enjoying the comments on this subject! Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 28, 2013

I want the old chain and hook fasteners on tailgates. I am SO tired of broken latches. And broken door latches. Our county roads are so bad a tailgate bangs a lot if down. And I drive slow.

on May 28, 2013

I can't believe so many of you worry about chipped paint.

Rick (not verified)
on May 29, 2013

Have all flatness but have previously done test on gate up or down when I was much younger and came to the conclusion that gate up actually gets you better mileage than gate down not by much but enough to say so. But these days I have flatness on all my dodges, 97, 01, 04 and 97 ford I am a ford man just wish ford would put the cummins in their pickup so I could distance myself from these dodges that just fall apart on the bumpy roads. As you can tell I'm a ford man because they hold up better.

Denise (not verified)
on May 29, 2013

Dodge diesel all the way.... nothing else can pull a cattle trailer as well as far as we are concerned! And tailgate always up :-)

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 6, 2013

I drive an '07 Chevy 2500HD and love it. And the tailgate is off cuz I have a vet box in the back!

Mike in Texas (not verified)
on Jul 11, 2013

I have V gates on all my trucks, for GN use. I think the Mythbusters are out in left field: I did my own test in the 80's and 90's and got far better mileage with the gate DOWN! Of course I don't have a TV show, I just pay the bills in real life.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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