Factors to Consider When Buying a Tonneau Cover
Choosing the right tonneau cover for your truck can be a daunting process, especially given the vast number of styles, options, and prices to consider. Luckily, the team at Chux can leverage our in-depth knowledge and decades of experience to make the selection process as easy as possible, and ensure that you end up with the right product to keep your truck protected and secure.
If you need a refresher about what a tonneau cover is or why you should purchase one, check out our previous blog posts.
When choosing a tonneau cover, it is important to consider the following to ensure you get a tonneau cover that meets your needs:
Tonneau Cover Functions
Tonneau covers are a great way to protect cargo in your trucks bed from theft and adverse weather conditions, but different types of tonneau covers offer different unique advantages. Here are a few common uses of tonneau covers:
Security: The good news is that almost all high-quality tonneau covers on the market today offer a high level of security - they will all keep your cargo safe from wandering eyes and potential thieves. While hard tonneau covers are the most secure, the only way to get into a locked high-quality soft cover is with a sharp knife.
Access: Traditionally, soft tonneau covers have provided the easiest access to your truck bed. Today however, hard tonneau covers come in several folding and even roll-up styles that are as easy to manipulate as a soft tonneau cover.
Are you going to need to access your truck bed with your hands full multiple times a day? Consider a roll-up soft folding cover, which takes less than 10 seconds to roll back. If you often need to haul cargo taller than the side (depth) of the bed, consider a roll-up or retractable cover, which saves you the effort of completely removing a cover every time you need to load or unload.
Water Resistance: All tonneau covers offer some protection against water damage, but no tonneau covers are truly water-tight. If you are looking for the best solution to keep water out, look at a hard tonneau cover with edges that roll over the side of the bed, which will keep almost all water out. This means a 1-piece, hard tonneau cover.
Strength and Stability: Do you need to be able to stand on your tonneau cover? If so, make sure you look at hard tonneau covers designed to hold weight. There are only a few choices if this is important to you.
Every truck is different, and some aspects of your truck bed might restrict the style of tonneau cover you can have. For instance, most 8-foot truck beds are used primarily for professional, rather than personal, use, so manufacturers do not make many covers for these longer truck beds.
If you have a tool box on your truck, you will need to select a tonneau cover specifically designed to work with your specific tool box.
If you have a 5th wheel or gooseneck hitch in your truck bed, consider a retractable or folding tonneau cover. This will allow you to choose how much of the truck bed is covered, and also helps with gas mileage.
Tonneau Cover Appearances
Many truck owners want their tonneau cover to both work great and look great, which is why appearance can be an important consideration when choosing a truck bed cover. Painted covers can help add a stylistic flair to your truck bed (although they are often more expensive).
Another style feature to consider is whether you want flush fit or top-of-the-bed-mount covers. Flush fit covers sit inside the edges of the truck bed, while top mount models will usually cover up most or all of your stake pocket holes. While most truck owners agree that flush fit covers look better, top mount models give you extra clearance and hold more weight.
Top mount covers also limit you on adding other accessories like truck ladder racks, bed rails, sport bars and more. Make sure you let your salesperson know if these other accessories are in your future customizing plans.
Tonneau Cover Manufacturing Time and Installation
Customized built-to-order, painted, and fiberglass covers can take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks to manufacture, while popular covers are immediately available in most stores or take less than a week to ship.. Once your new cover has arrived, it’s important that it be installed correctly so they fit properly, operate properly, and protect your truck bed and it’s cargo. We recommend hiring a professional to install your tonneau cover so it is correctly adjusted and fits your truck.
Some tonneau covers require holes to be drilled in the truck for installation and drain tubes. While these covers often do a better job of keeping the truck bed dry, some truck owners don’t want to drill holes in their vehicle. Before purchasing, make sure you understand how the tonneau cover will be installed and, if you choose to,stay away from covers that require holes.
Tonneau Cover Costs
For many truck owners, price is one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing a tonneau cover. Like most facets of vehicle accessories, you get what you pay for. Generally speaking, the cheaper soft tonneau covers range between $245-$300 with the top quality soft, roll-up tonneau covers running $350-$500. While the more expensive hardcovers can reach up to $3,000, there are hard tonneau covers that cost as little as $499. But keep in mind, you do get what you pay for. If you’re just looking for basic protection, soft covers are the most budget-friendly solution.. On the other hand, if you need extra protection and security, a more expensive hard cover is recommended. Also, note that American-made covers generally cost more but offer better fit, better components and hold up better long-term. Chux Trux carries 2 import brands and 12 domestic brands.
Your new tonneau cover will undoubtedly be exposed to many different weather conditions, along with normal wear-and-tear. So along with the cost of the cover itself, consider what kind of warranty you want for your tonneau cover. When you buy products from Chux Trux, we offer a lifetime guarantee, which covers manufacturing defects and wear.
Tonneau Cover Accessories
When buying a tonneau cover, it is crucial to notify the salesperson if you are planning on adding accessories to your truck in the future. These accessories can include (but are not limited to) bed rails, tie downs, sport bars, headache racks, light bars, and bike racks. The salesperson will be able to help you pick a cover that is compatible with these accessories.
Your truck bed liner can also impact your choice of tonneau cover. If you have or plan to install a plastic drop-in bed liner, for instance, you should avoid purchasing a retractable tonneau cover, which will require the bed liner to be cut and modified heavily and leave gaps and potentially lead to water damage. Make sure to consult with a Chux expert about your bed liner before purchasing a tonneau cover.
Tonneau Cover Add-on's
Reaching sticks are helpful for grabbing cargo that has slid to the front of your bed. Trucks are tall and it's hard to reach over the side of the bed and grab things, and nobody wants to crawl into the bed on their hands and knees (it's sort of like walking on Lego's barefoot). These handy tools let you reach about 2/3's of the way into the bed using a steel rod with an "L" shaped hook on the end to drag it back toward the tail gate. Convenient, pain free, affordable, and you'll want one.
And don't forget to ask about cleaners and protectants. Depending on the material yours is made of you'll need specific cleaners. Vinyl covers need a UV protectant, painted covers need detail cleaner and wax, rubber seals need 303 (awesome stuff) plus a whole lot of other options, depending on what cover you buy.
Given the many factors to consider, it is easy to see how choosing the right tonneau cover for your truck bed can be a big decision. It is important to take into account functionality, cost, accessibility, style, and installation before investing your time and money into a tonneau cover. Let the team at Chux help you find the perfect cover to customize and protect your vehicle.