Are Tonneau Covers Worth It? A Buyer’s Guide

Tonneau covers, or truck bed covers, are popular and useful truck accessories. Your buddies that have them are talking them up to you nonstop! But you want the straight facts: are tonneau covers really worth the purchase?

Tonneau covers have a wide variety of benefits that make them a worthwhile investment for many truck owners. Although it is an added upfront purchase, the added protection for your truck bed and belongings will likely save money in the long term.

Either way, buying a tonneau cover is not a small investment. I’ll provide you with all the helpful information you need to make the best decision for your situation.

Pros & Cons of Tonneau Covers

Weighing out the pros and cons of buying and installing a tonneau cover will help you decide what’s best for you.

I’ll highlight the most important pros and cons of tonneau covers!

Tonneau Cover Pros

#1 They Protect Your Stuff

A tonneau cover is first and foremost what its name suggests: a cover for your “tonneau”. Tonneau is just a fancy French word for an open-air part of your vehicle.

Putting a cover on your truck bed does many things to protect your truck bed and your cargo from damage or theft. 

First, the tonneau cover protects your cargo and truck bed itself from the elements.

This includes rain, snow, hail, salty road slush, wind, the sun’s UV rays, and dust. Over time, exposure to the elements can damage your truck bed, meaning a lower resale value.

These covers are made from high-quality and tough material that lasts a long time.

Tonneau covers ensure your cargo is out of sight from greedy eyes. Hardcovers and some soft covers lock shut, but even a cover that does not lock prevents the stuff from being an easy target. 

#2 They Keep Your Truck Bed Clean

Truck beds are notoriously difficult to keep clean. Once dust or dirt gets in there, you will be chasing it all out with a hose when it comes to cleaning time.

Not to mention, standing water in your truck bed will smell bad over time!

Tonneau covers remedy all these issues. A protective shield against dirt and water, all you need to do is spray off the cover when you want to clean up.

Some tonneau covers also come with a mechanism that gets water that’s trapped in your truck bed out, should water seep in there somehow.

#3 They Make Your Truck Look Great!

Tonneau covers give trucks a sleek, finished look. 

Whatever your style preference is, there’s a tonneau cover for you. The most common tonneau cover color is black, usually with a matte finish. But there are also aluminum, vinyl, and fiberglass options. 

You can even get a hardtop that matches your truck’s body paint. Whether it’s matching paint or going with a classic black cover, a tonneau cover is sure to turn heads.

#4 There are Many Options to Choose From

Depending on what you need, there’s a tonneau cover that will work for you. 

Need a more affordable option? Soft covers come at a little bit cheaper price tag than the hard ones.

Do you need a heavy-duty cover that will hold up at the job site? Some hardtop tonneau covers can withstand an impact of 500 pounds.

Not to mention, there are also options when it comes to how they open, how far they can open up, and extra accessories for storing things on the top of the cover, like bikes.

Tonneau Cover Cons

#1 They are an Added Expense

There’s no getting around it: tonneau covers can be expensive. Even if you choose a budget option, it’s still extra money that you are spending.

Keep in mind that this initial investment may mean that you are spending less on truck bed repair or maintenance, as well as guaranteeing your cargo is undamaged.

Tonneau cover manufacturers know what you need. Typically, the higher the price tag, the more quality the cover is and the longer it will last you. Make sure you pay attention to the warranty, too.

#2 Some Tonneau Covers are Restrictive

It’s helpful to think about what kinds of things you would like to haul in your truck bed before you buy a tonneau cover because some covers will open or come off the way you need them to.

For example, a tri-folding cover, even when flipped up on the back of the cab, will not completely open up the truck bed.

Also, some hard-top covers are installed in such a way that it’s difficult to get them off the truck bed when you need the space of the whole truck bed. If this is important to you, you can purchase one that is easy to remove.

#3 They are Not Universal

If you decide to buy a tonneau cover, make sure it will fit your truck’s make and model before buying.

Not all tonneau covers will fit all trucks, but there are likely several kinds for you to choose from within your truck’s make and model.

How Much Do Tonneau Covers Cost?

One important factor to consider while shopping for a tonneau cover is its price.

Tonneau cover prices range from around $200 to around $2,000, depending on what features you want.

On the lower price end of the spectrum, you will see mostly soft tonneau covers. These are typically made out of vinyl material with aluminum framing.

On the higher end, you will start seeing more hard materials, and fancy features like push-button retractable covers and super-sturdy covers.

Why are Tonneau Covers So Expensive?

Tonneau covers are expensive because they are made of durable materials. When you buy a tonneau cover, you want it to work, right?

Many mechanical and functional features of tonneau covers, to work properly, must be made with the highest quality materials, which cost more money.

Tip: You can learn more about tonneau cover cost in my dedicated article here.

Where to Buy a Tonneau Cover

Luckily, tonneau covers are pretty easy to come by if you want to find one. Here are a few places you can find tonneau covers.

1. Online Vendors

There are several places online where you can buy a tonneau cover.

2. “Big Box” Stores

If you’d rather buy in person, there’s a big box store near you that likely has tonneau covers in stock.

These stores include AutoZone, Home Depot, Tractor Supply Co., and Walmart.

3. Local Vendors

You may have a shop in your town that specializes in truck accessories.

These stores are bound to have expert knowledge on everything tonneau covers, and might even offer installation services.

Should I Get a Tonneau Cover?

That depends! What do you want from your truck?

If you want to cover your truck bed, keep the cargo safe, and be able to take the cover on and off relatively easily, a tonneau cover might work out great for you.

Truck toppers, like camper shells, are a good option too if you want to protect your cargo and truck bed.

Camper shells don’t always do an amazing job of keeping dirt out of your truck bed, though. They are also difficult to remove if you need to haul some extra-large cargo.

Tonneau covers have some limitations, of course. Some tonneau covers are not versatile enough to allow you to haul long cargo. 

You also can not double the use of a tonneau cover by sleeping in it. In this case, a camper shell might suit you better.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do Tonneau Covers Save Gas? 

There are rumors around the internet that tonneau covers can save you money at the pump. Actually, this is not entirely true. The studies that say you save in MPGs only saw savings at 85 MPH down the highway, which of course, is not a very large percentage of the time you are driving your truck.

Do Tonneau Covers Make Noise?

A properly fitting tonneau cover should not make any noise when you are driving down the road, especially hard tonneau covers. A soft tonneau cover may make some noise at high speeds, but any flapping noise should not be happening and should be addressed quickly.

Conclusion

Tonneau covers are definitely worth it if you are willing to foot the bill for one. Even the inexpensive ones offer protection that is better than nothing. Tonneau covers are generally easy to install and use, too.

Whatever cover you choose, a truck bed cover will lengthen the lifespan of your truck bed and your cargo, which makes tonneau covers a great investment.

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