Eric Page - May 9, 2018
If you're like me, you know that a tonneau cover is the next must-have for your pickup truck but you're not certain which type/style of tonneau cover is the perfect fit. When it comes to protecting your truck bed, choices typically include rubber mats, spray-on liners or hard plastic bed liners. A tonneau cover protects your cargo from the sun, rain and snow and can also help to safeguard your valued possessions from theft, reduce vehicle drag to boost fuel economy and can improve the overall appearance of your truck.
Manufacturers like Extang, BAK, Truxedo and Lund offer numerous styles to meet an ever-changing consumer demand. From retractable vs. roll-up to soft vs. hard, the number of choices of tonneau covers can be intimidating.
Read on to find answers to common questions when considering what to look for when purchasing a tonneau cover. Hopefully, this article will allow you to make an informed choice when purchasing your next tonneau cover.
Do I need a hard tonneau cover or a soft tonneau cover?
Soft tonneau covers are the economical way to cover your truck bed. Easy to install and remove, soft tonneau covers are typically made from a lightweight, yet durable vinyl material and come in roll-up, folding and hinged designs.
Hard tonneau covers offer the ultimate in security against theft and usually feature an integrated locking system to secure the truck bed when the tailgate is locked. Hard tonneau covers typically are heavier, come with longer warranties and can be matched to factory paint colors. Styles include hard-folding, hinged, retractable and retractable one-piece truck bed covers.
Can I use a tonneau cover with a bed liner or other truck bed accessories?
Almost all bed liners are of the "under-the-rail" variety and should not interfere with the installation of a tonneau cover. "Over the rail" bed liners are more tricky because they alter the way the cover fits on the truck's bed rail and make installation more challenging. If you require the use of your truck's stake pocket holes, look for a tonneau cover that mounts to the inside of the bed leaving the stake pocket holes unblocked and free to be used.
How difficult is installation?
Installation of soft covers can be done in about 30-45 minutes with simple garage tools and no drilling should be required. Since hard covers are heavier and more unwieldy, ask a friend for help. If a bed liner gets in the way during installation, you can simply cut a notch in the bed liner where you need to fit the tonneau cover clamp.
What kind of maintenance is required?
Tonneau covers are maintenance free. Wash them with soap and water like you would the rest of your truck. There are aftermarket vinyl cleaners for soft tonneau covers that help protect the vinyl from extremes in weather.