Choosing a right tonneau cover for your truck can be a hard process. Tonneau covers come in various styles made from different materials. They may be made from vinyl, cloth, fiberglass, plastic or aluminum. A tonneau cover usually opens at the tailgate, whether it rolls up toward the cab, folds up toward the cab, retracts away from the rear of the truck or lifts at the tailgate.

tips you must know when choosing right tonneau cover

Why Add a Tonneau Cover

Tonneau covers are great for protecting items in the bed of the truck from prying eyes and from the weather. They also make a truck look different, especially the covers that are painted to match the truck. Soft or hard locking covers are great for keeping your shopping safe when you have to make more than one stop, and for keeping your tools and gear safe while stored in the bed of the truck. Another benefit of having a tonneau cover is that it protects the bed of the truck from the weather. Instead of the rain and snow sitting in the bed and rusting through over time, the rain stays out, significantly decreasing the chances that the bed rusts out. Depending on the tonneau cover, it may even help reduce gas mileage. Some have found that it provides little to no change while others noticed a marked difference in fuel economy.

tonneau cover reduce gas mileage

Types of Tonneau Covers

Soft tonneau covers may roll or fold up from the tailgate toward the cab. Some lock and some do not. And, some are installed permanently and some are installed temporarily. Several types of soft tonneau covers are available, including a soft lockable cover by OEDRO. This cover installs with ease and locks to keep your gear out of sight and protect your cargo from rain. Other types of covers include a hard roll-up tonneau cover is made from aluminum slats that form a shell. This type could support up to 400 pounds when it's closed. A retractable cover that is mounted at the front and sides of the truck bed. It retracts or rolls up, starting at the tailgate and going toward the cab of the truck. This type may be made from plastic, vinyl or aluminum and are more secure than other soft covers because they may be locked. All tonneau covers are relatively easy to install and could be installed by one person except for the heavy fiberglass tonneau covers.

soft roll up tonneau cover

Choosing the Right Tonneau Cover

Part of choosing the right tonneau cover is deciding what type you want. If you need the tonneau cover to protect items you store from bad weather, the soft tonneau cover would be the first choice. They are more affordable and easier to install than hardcovers. If you need the tonneau cover to prevent your cargo from being stolen, the best cover is the fiberglass cover. However, they are expensive and heavy, and take at least three people to install – it’s better if you have four to six – and they are also heavy once they are installed. Additionally, when you open the cover, you are working against the shocks that hold it up.

The other types of covers include:

Aluminum retractable covers: These are also great for protecting things in the vehicle and are harder to break into. However, the aluminum cover has several moving parts, which means it needs more maintenance. The aluminum slats roll up on themselves into a canister at the head of the truck bed.

Soft covers: These may be made from different types of material including vinyl. They are waterproof and protect the items in the bed. Soft covers either roll or fold up toward the front of the bed. Some soft covers are lockable, such as OEDRO soft roll up tonneau cover, it also can protect your cargo safety.

soft tonneau cover

Measure Your Truck Bed Length

Once you choose which type of tonneau cover you want, you have to make sure it fits. Truck beds normally come in three sizes, but those three sizes – the short bed, regular bed and long bed – may not be the same length for different brands of trucks or for different years of the same truck. For example, before ordering an OEDRO F-150 tonneau cover, measure the length of your truck’s bed. Also, different styles of tonneau covers may need to be measured differently depending on where on the truck bed they are attached. Some may ride just over the inside edge of the sides of the truck while others may completely cover the top of the sides of the truck. Some ride over the outside edges of the truck bed. Be sure you know where to measure your truck for the type of tonneau cover you are purchasing.

Measure Your Truck Bed Length

Compatible with Other Accessories

The tonneau cover should be compatible with other accessories you may have for the bed of the 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. So before purchasing a tonneau cover, you can consult with OEDRO expert about your bed liner.

Installing Tonneau Covers

Check the requirements for installation for the type of tonneau cover you are purchasing. If the tonneau cover snaps on, you need to know if the snaps require permanent glue or if you have to drill the truck bed to install the snaps.

Installing Tonneau Covers

Temporary Clamping Tonneau Covers

Certain tonneau covers use clamps and latches. You shouldn’t need any tools to install this type of cover. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clamp the cover near the cab of the bed, then unroll the cover. At the tailgate, reach under the tonneau cover to clamp those latches to the lip of the bed rail. Make sure there is no slack in the mechanism once the tonneau cover is fully attached. Put the tailgate up to ensure that the cover doesn’t interfere with closing it. If the tailgate doesn’t shut properly or if the cover is hanging over the rails of the bed, you’ll have to make adjustments.

Semi-Permanent Clamping Tonneau Covers

For this type of tonneau cover, you will need a few tools and shims, depending on the brand. The shims are rubber or plastic pieces that rest against the clamps. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to assemble the clamps and anything else that might require assembly. When attaching the bolts and connectors, make sure everything is tight so you don’t have any give. Connect the rails and then position the cover on the rails. It should fit perfectly. Unroll or unfold the cover, making sure that the locking clamps or snaps are in the right place or activated.

Once the cover is opened, test everything to make sure it works, including handles, mechanisms and levers. Install drain canisters, tubes and rubber bumpers as applicable. Test everything again to make sure it all works as it should.

Retractable Tonneau Covers

Review all of the instructions from the manufacturer and make sure you have all of the tools needed to install a retractable tonneau cover. Center the rolling canister in the middle of the truck bed as close to the cab as you can get. The canister must be centered perfectly. Put the rails on the bed rails and then attach them to the canister. They must be straight of the cover won’t slide in and out easily. Install the clamps as instructed.

Retractable Tonneau Covers

If the rail span is not the correct size at the front of the bed and by the tailgate, use shims behind the clamps to get the correct distance. Finish tightening the bolts. Install water canisters, electrical implements, pull straps and tubes that are applicable. Test the tonneau cover operation and make adjustments as needed. Test the system again.

Hinged Lid Tonneau Covers

These covers are heavy, so you’ll need help in the form of several people or a forklift. Make sure the package has everything you need, and that you have the required tools. Follow the instructions for prepping the bed rails if applicable. Set the tonneau cover on the bed rails, making sure it is on straight. Make sure the tailgate opens and closes.

Crawl inside the bed and attach the C-clamps in each corner. Prop the cover open and attach the shocks to the knobs that hang down from the cover rails. Retighten all of the bolts, gaskets, and nuts. Test the locking mechanism.

Tonneau Cover Maintenance

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning your tonneau cover. Do not use harsh chemicals on any type of cover, especially the soft covers. The maintenance of soft tonneau cover is easier than the hard tonneau cover. The fiberglass covers may be cleaned just as you would clean the rest of your truck. They should also be waxed when you wax your truck. Always rinse the mud off the tonneau cover before you use a brush on it. Mud is abrasive and could scratch or even tear the cover. Treat it as you would an expensive paint job on your truck.

If the tonneau cover gets salty slush on it during the winter, be sure to rinse it off and then wash the truck. As with the underbody of your truck, the chemicals used to melt ice on the roads will disintegrate the cover, rails, nuts, bolts and other parts of the cover.

Be sure to grease the moving parts as required by the manufacturer. Some of these parts may be exposed to the weather and will need maintenance to keep them in good working order, especially on retractable tonneau covers.

OEDRO Tonneau Cover

Visit OEDRO Today

Now that you know all about the different types of tonneau covers, you can see that you can get the best of both worlds with a soft, lockable cover. It will protect your things from the rain and it will definitely dissuade someone from stealing your gear or tools. And, only one person is needed to install a soft cover since it doesn’t weight near as much as the retractable covers or the fiberglass covers.

Visit OEDRO today for soft tonneau covers and other accessories to add to your pickup truck or Jeep. Our soft tonneau cover is easy to install, which means you’ll be on your way to having fun in no time.

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