When something is trending, it can be easy to fall into buying without thinking. Tonneau covers are useful, they look amazing on trucks, and they seem to have all the bells and whistles, whether you order one to match the color of your truck, or buy a fancy retractable one.
But you’re a smart buyer, and you want to ask a few questions about tonneau covers first before you run out and purchase one. We’ve rounded up the 4 most common tonneau cover questions to either answer the questions you already have, or present new ones to you.
Are Tonneau Covers Removable?
The decision to put a tonneau cover on your truck is by no means a permanent one.
All types of tonneau covers are removable. Tonneau covers have easy-release latches that allow you to roll or fold back the cover almost completely.
Tonneau covers that are not one-piece can be rolled back, retracted back, or folded back, but even the one-piece ones (though very heavy) can be taken off your truck if needed.
Some one-piece tonneau covers even come with a rack that you install on your garage wall for storage when not in use.
Even though most tonneau covers can be rolled or folded back completely, you still might want to take it off.
Reasons for this include hauling very large or long cargo. Maybe you are selling your truck and you want to take the cover completely off first (make sure the cover will fit on your new truck, though).
Most models come with a drill-free installation. They are installed by way of heavy-duty clamps.
Because tonneau covers are commonly installed this way, there is no permanent damage to your truck should you decide that you don’t want it on there anymore. Since it’s usually a DIY installation with these covers, they can also be uninstalled by yourself without much trouble.
Make sure to think through what your truck bed use normally is (or will be) before buying a tonneau cover. If you will be hauling a lot of big and long stuff, it might be better to get a cover that fully retracts or rolls back.
Folding tonneau covers can still get in the way for the last 10% of space towards the cab, they are heavy and therefore a little more of a pain to remove if you need to. Hard, one-piece tonneau covers are difficult for this same reason.
So, if you will be removing the cover often, it might be best to go with a soft one that’s light and can roll back almost completely.
Are Tonneau Covers Secure?
It depends on what you mean by the word “secure.” We will take this to mean, “can you lock a tonneau cover?”
Certain tonneau covers are more secure than others, as, in our opinion, the more secure ones are hard covers and do in fact lock. This includes hard folding tonneau covers and hard retractable tonneau covers.
However, you could see all tonneau covers as secure. Which truck will a thief be more likely to steal something out of, a truck with a soft tonneau cover, or a truck with no cover at all?
Thieves are way more likely to go for an easy steal than have to cut through a cover to get to something.
Even soft covers that retract, roll, or fold back cannot be easily opened without the tailgate down.
With these models, you open the tailgate first, then pull on a cord or push a button to open the cover. So this means that as long as your tailgate is locked, your stuff is pretty secure.
With that being said, there are tonneau covers that are less secure than others.
Let’s briefly go over them!
The Least Secure Tonneau Cover
The least secure option, and probably the cheapest option, you could pick out of all the tonneau covers is the tonneau cover that opens with snaps.
Anyone can open or close these easily because the snaps are accessible all around the rim of the truck bed.
These snap-on covers make a great option for someone who does not necessarily care about security in their truck bed and wants to save some money. But it’s not a great choice for someone who wants their stuff locked and safe.
The Most Secure Tonneau Cover
If you’re looking for the most secure tonneau cover out there, be sure to check out the one-piece hard top tonneau covers. One-piece hardtops are the most secure tonneau covers.
This is because they are hard, yes, but also because some models are designed with an extra lock on them, which you need a key or keyless fob to open. Also, there is only one way to open up these covers, where other covers have multiple points of entry.
It could be annoying to have to open two sets of locks before opening your truck bed up, but not if you want lock-tight security!
Do Tonneau Covers Keep Water Out?
Tonneau covers can help keep water out of your truck bed most of the time, especially when installed correctly. But they are by no means completely waterproof.
What I mean is, most tonneau covers are designed to keep water out when it’s coming straight down on it, like during a downpouring of rain. However, if you are shooting a pressure washer directly at the seals, it’s likely going to let water seep in in this case.
Tonneau covers are designed with rubber or foam seals around the lining of the truck to keep as much moisture out as possible. The thing is, there are more open areas of your truck where water can get in, tonneau cover on or not.
There are two spots where water can get into your truck bed, regardless of what kind of cover you have on.
The first spot is along the sides of your truck bed, right next to the cab of the truck. There are tiny slots of space there where, given the right kind of weather, a lot of water can get in your truck bed.
Another spot that has holes where water can get into your truck bed is around the tailgate. Unless you’ve got a truck with top-notch seals around the tailgate, there is enough space around the tailgate for water to get in.
These spaces are left there by truck manufacturers to allow rainwater to drain out of your truck.
So, it’s not always just the tonneau cover that’s letting water in!
If you’ve got water in your truck bed even with a tonneau cover on, make sure to seal all the other spaces in the truck too. Some manufacturers make seal kits where you can easily seal these spaces off yourself.
To summarize, yes, tonneau covers keep water out in most situations, but they should not be looked at as the only way to keep water out of your truck bed. There are other spots in your truck bed where water can get in, and if that’s a big deal to you, you should spend some time sealing those spaces up.
After you’ve got all those holes sealed, opt for a hard tonneau cover that has a water draining system.
Are Tonneau Covers Car Wash Safe?
When the covers are securely closed and installed correctly onto your truck bed, most manufacturers say that their tonneau covers can go through a car wash safely. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do it.
One reason you might buy and install a tonneau cover is to keep your truck bed cleaner in the first place. Cleaning a tonneau cover is much easier than cleaning the inside of a truck bed. Though, you may wonder if a tonneau cover can handle the intensity of a car wash.
Both hard and soft covers are approved for automatic car washes. Even though this is true, coming straight from the cover manufacturers, automatic car washes can be hard on your cover, especially soft covers.
The high-pressured water, friction from the spinning brushes, and automatic dryers can all add unnecessary stress on a soft tonneau cover. Plus, water spraying in from different directions may seep through the seals that are meant to keep your truck bed dry.
If you do decide to go through an automatic car wash, (in some cases, you must go through one for safety reasons), make sure all your cargo is inside the truck bed and the tonneau cover is on correctly. If it is not on correctly, an automatic car wash will certainly damage your cover.
The next best way to wash your truck with a tonneau cover is by using the manual side of the car wash. This way, you control the pressure of water sprayed on the cover, and which direction the water goes.
You may also opt to perform a waterless clean of your cover with chemicals. This is the best way to go about washing your cover and will retain the quality of your tonneau cover for the longest amount of time.
This method requires the most effort, though, as you will have to take the cover off to wash it this way.