Photo credit: Diamond Back Truck Covers
Whether you’re planning to haul groceries, tools, furniture, or golf clubs, you can protect your cargo from the wind, the elements, and the prying eyes of bad guys with high-quality tonneau covers. Tonneau covers protect truck cargo beds or empty passenger seats in a roadster or convertible against harsh weather while securing them from theft.
A tonneau cover is also called a truck bed cover, roll up cover, tanno cover, tonno cover, pickup cover, and truck tarp. Installing tonneau covers is a wise investment because of the many good reasons you can gain from it. At the end of this post, you’ll realize the many things you need to consider when choosing a tonneau cover for your vehicle and the benefits that come along with it. Let’s get started:
Best Vehicle Upgrade
If you want to upgrade a vehicle feature, tonneau covers make an essential upgrade that increases the security and protection of your truck from the elements. A tonneau cover is a practical solution to upgrade the vehicle that can help you with managing or organizing your cargo.
Here’s the most common questions you need to ask yourself when buying a tonneau cover:
- What’s my primary objective of adding a new tonneau cover?
- Will a truck bed cover fit with my bed liner?
- Will this tonneau cover be compatible with my truck bed accessories?
- What is the impact of the height of my truck with my tonneau cover choice?
- How long and difficult is the tonneau installation?
- What’s the maintenance requirement of tonneau covers?
As you continue reading below, you’ll find answers to these commonly asked questions to help you decide the best type, features, and materials you need for a tonneau cover.
Security is one of the major reasons why you need to install a tonneau cover in your vehicle. If you have gear, goods, or items, you transport every day, you want to ensure their safety. The security level of a tonneau cover depends on several factors, such as the material used, the degree of accessibility you need, and the purpose of tonneau cover installation.
Here’s how tonneau covers secure your cargo:
- Keeps your valuables and cargo out of sight
- Special locking mechanisms
- Heavy-duty for difficult removal
- Door configuration options
- Material options include soft and hard materials (harder materials offer a higher level of security than soft materials)
A tonneau cover provides a sleek look as it cleans up truck lines and provides an extra level of security to any valuable stuff you haul in your vehicle bed. Some tonneau covers can be painted which makes a show truck appealing and attractive.
Tonneau covers come in different styles, sizes, and designs, and there are tonneau covers for full-size trucks, midsize, and mini-trucks. Work trucks have specially designed tonneau covers for security and heavy hauling. Also, there’s tonneau covers intended for everyday grocery or a street custom hauler.
Here are the different types of tonneau covers to choose from:
- Rolling Soft Covers: A soft cover uses a soft material like cloth. A roll-up cover is easy to remove and inexpensive, providing a low degree of security. It keeps your cargo out of sight and prevents them from flying or being thrown out of the vehicle.
- Tri-Fold Covers: A tri-fold cover comes in a soft- or hard-top format. It latches down from the interior and relies on the tailgate’s lock to deny unauthorized access to the truck bed. Soft-top versions are lightweight and easy to install, ideal for oversized equipment.
- Retractable Covers: The mounting is usually on the underside of the bed rails. A retractable cover is similar to an accordion which can be folded up or rolled as it slides open on the track. It usually comes with locks and is easy to install for quick access to the truck bed. Retractable covers are suitable for taller trucks which are similar to window shutters so you can manually or automatically move the cover back and forth.
- Hinged covers: Traditional and popular type of bed cover. Hinged covers are made of fiberglass that hinges up when opened. They’re difficult to install and the most expensive kind of tonneau cover.
- Heavy-Duty Tonneau Covers: These truck bed covers are made from aluminum and steel. You can carry a load on top of the other when closed. An aluminum tonneau cover is rust-resistant and offers a high degree of security. You can configure a heavy-duty truck bed to the hinged variety.
- Rack-Integrated Covers: This type of cover is more expensive than the rest because it’s made of metal and other tough material frames. A rack-integrated cover also has a hard folding cover for extra reinforcement. This feature is helpful when carrying irregular-shaped and heavy cargo. It’s perfect when carrying loads longer than the truck bed.
Flexible Installation Options
Depending on the type of material and style of tonneau cover you need, the installation time varies — also, the purpose and degree of accessibility influence the installation time. If you have time to spare, it’s best to choose tonneau covers that offer the highest level of security, most especially if your cargo is high-value.
Here are the installation time frames for different truck bed covers:
- A roll-up tonneau cover can be installed in less than 10 minutes without tools required. Some rolling tonneau covers are automated and the installation time varies from 30 minutes to an hour.
- Tri-fold tonneau covers have different installation times. Generally, this type of truck bed cover takes around 30 minutes or more than an hour for complete installation.
- The installation time for retractable cover may take an hour or more. The installation time is highly dependent on the parts you’ll be installing.
- Rack-integrated covers take time to install. You should install the rails first, and it takes 45 minutes up to an hour with the use of basic hand tools.
Reliable and Durable
High-quality truck bed covers are reliable because they’re made of sturdy materials, from the fabric options to structural frames. When it comes to durability, the type of material says a lot. There are many options when it comes to choosing the best material for your tonneau cover based on the purpose of use and the required degree of accessibility.
Of course, harder materials are long-lasting and more durable than soft tonneau materials. That’s why you need to prioritize your needs, in terms of security, accessibility, and level of weather element protection, when choosing the best tonneau cover material for your vehicle.
Here are some practical ways in choosing the right tonneau cover material for you:
- You can choose a high-quality tonneau cover for your vehicle from vinyl, fiberglass, canvas, ABS polymer, and canvas.
- The harder materials are suitable for cargo or valuable items needing increased security and protection.
- The softer materials, like vinyl, allow easier access to tools or other things you need.
- Hard folding covers provide a higher degree of protection and security with hard shells that can be folded in sections, so an area of the truck bed is revealed. Hard tonneau covers can support up to 400 pounds of loading capacity.
- Retractable covers are usually made of aluminum slats which are positioned in sequence next to each other.
Increase Truck Versatility
There are truck beds with rack systems installed to carry anything from mobility solutions, ladders, to kayaks. Installing a tonneau cover can instantly transform your truck bed perfect as an off-road warrior or as a workstation with increased versatility.
Here’s how versatile a tonneau cover is even when a bed liner is installed:
- A bed liner sits under the bed rails or reaches up over the rails for protection.
- Under-the-rail bed liners are not a big deal for most tonneau cover designs. Some retractable tonneau covers require some bed liner trimming at the bulkhead.
- Tonneau covers use Over-the-rail bed liners as a fastening point which cover the bed lip area.
- You can keep the bed liner in place and notched in areas where the tonneau cover clamps are attached for a secure installation.
Bed Accessory Compatible
If you’re using specific bed accessories, tonneau covers are generally compatible depending on your vehicle and the choice of cover style and brand. The installation of a tonneau cover affects the use and fitment of bed accessories.
Here are some of the most popular bed accessories:
- Tie Down Rings: Bullring tie-downs are usually compatible with tonneau covers which are installed into the truck bed stake hole pockets. Tie down rings serve as an anchor point for cargo ropes and straps. A soft tri-fold or any high profile tonneau cover sits over the hole pockets to make them inaccessible. Choosing a low profile tonneau cover, like roll-up covers, provide access to these holes.
- Utility Track Systems: Modern trucks are factory equipped with utility track systems, consisting of built-in rails with sliding cargo cleats. There’s no consistent impact level to the cargo management functionality from truck to truck and cover to cover. However, the use of a utility track system can be impeded when a tonneau cover is installed. Sometimes, the cargo cleats need to be removed entirely or fixed in place.
- Truck Racks: These bed accessories are compatible with certain types of tonneau covers. They usually need access to the stake hole pockets for installation similar to tie down rings. Many truck racks only work with a roll up, retractable, or other low profile tonneau cover.
- Bed Extenders: Aftermarket bed extenders have an optional hardware kit, so they’re compatible with tonneau covers.
- Headache Racks: As long as you have the right adapter, a wide array of tonneau covers work well with headache racks. If you’re purchasing a new headache rack or you already have one, check with the rack manufacturer to check if the right adapter is available.
Reasonable Price Options
The prices of tonneau covers differ, so you can always find the right tonneau cover that also suits your budget. Generally, softer tonneau covers are cheaper than the hard truck covers. However, this isn’t always the case. Even similar materials have more or less the same prices, regardless if they’re made from hard or soft materials.
Here are the factors that determine the price of a truck bed cover:
- The size of the tonneau cover
- Operation whether it’s manual, remote-controlled or electric
- The popularity of car brand and model
- Date of manufacture
When you decide to upgrade your vehicle cover, one of the major factors you have to consider is the maintenance requirement. Of course, you want something that is hassle-free and less time-consuming. Tonneau covers make a good investment because they’re easy to clean than installing regular tarps. Most tonneau covers only require low maintenance, while others don’t need it at all.
Here are the basic tonneau cover maintenance tips:
- You can wash them with a simple soap and water solution or a vinyl cleaner suitable for the type of tonneau cover you have.
- Fiberglass color-matched tonneau covers need waxing.
- Keep the track system of a retractable truck cover clear of debris.
- For vinyl tonneau covers, you can use an ultraviolet or UV protectant to keep it in good shape.
- Retractable tonneau covers need routine mechanical maintenance, wherein the rails are lubricated occasionally for ease of movement.
- Spray lubricant is available for the hinges so you can use them for many years to come.
Installing a tonneau cover reduces the aerodynamic drag on a pick-up truck to avoid wasting unnecessary gas. It only means you’ll be saving money on gasoline aside from the protection and security you’ll benefit for your cargo, gear, and other valuable items.
It makes sense investing in high-quality tonneau covers for your truck, pick-up, or any open vehicle for security reasons and it protects your cargo from the elements. In short, you have peace of mind that your cargo is safely transported from one location to another. When choosing a tonneau cover, it’s crucial to consider the purpose, material, size, operation, bed accessory compatibility, and your budget.