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Any good truck owner will tell you that a quality tonneau cover for your truck bed is a crucial piece of equipment to own. Keeping the contents of your bed safe from the elements, or even protecting the finish of the bed itself is a daily concern when driving your truck on job sites and around town. There are a variety of tonneau covers that are each suited to specific situations and environments depending on how you use your vehicle. Here’s a look at a variety of different covers and how they can fit into your unique daily trucking routine.
The first major difference you will notice when researching tonneau covers is the price discrepancy between the soft and hard top options. Most hard-top covers start at around $500, while soft tops will typically be around $200-$600. Depending on your specific needs for the cover, you will need to take this significant price difference into account when making your decision.
When shopping for a soft top tonneau cover, you will typically find three main types: snap, soft folding and soft roll-up, each providing a slightly different advantage. The snap design is one of the simplest, which as the name implies, is a plastic cover that snaps on overtop your bed. This particular type of cover is sturdy, inexpensive, and extremely simple to install; however, it can prove inconvenient to take on and off if you need to do this often.
The next category of tonneau cover is the tri-fold. Folding at three separate points as its name implies, the tri-fold design is sturdy and is designed for ease of opening and closing. This model is a perfect fit for anyone that is frequently accessing their bed, but still wants a high degree of protection.
The last soft top type that we will cover is the soft roll up. Providing a similar level of protection and feel to the other models, the roll-up simply offers a different way to open and close your tonneau. It is worth noting that most soft top covers are made of some kind of vinyl material because of its slick appearance and durability. Be sure to use the proper cleaners and maintenance techniques when caring for any vinyl material. Do a little more research into the nuance of these various models in relation to your truck to identify the soft top cover that is right for you.
As we said before, the soft tonneau offers the advantage of being affordable and lightweight compared to its hard body counterpart. The disadvantages of this type are that it provides slightly less security and can be difficult to operate in extremely cold weather conditions. It is also worth noting that the vinyl material will require slightly more maintenance and attention than the hardtops, which are generally made out of some form of metal, fiberglass, or plastic.
Now for the tonneau hardtop models. As you can guess from the previous paragraph, the hard tops will generally run at a much higher price point than the soft. If you’re looking to invest in a nice and durable hard top model, be prepared to spend up to $2,000. While there are numerous different kinds of hard tops, we will cover three main categories here in this article. The first main type of hardtop that we will discuss is the retractable cover. This stylish model sits very low on your flatbed and provides seamless movement for when you want to access your tools. Available with a wide variety of locks and security devices, this type of cover is great for anyone that wants that added bit of security for their truck.
The second model is the hard-folding cover. Similar to the soft tri-fold, this type of cover also folds into three distinct pieces, making fold up a breeze. This decision comes down to a matter of aesthetic and ease of use with the owner, feel free to try a few out at your local dealership to see which type best suits your uses and needs.
Lastly, we will cover the painted hard top tonneau cover. This design is about the closest you can get to converting your truck’s bed into a bonafide trunk. These covers are often made of a metal, fiberglass, or heavy plastic and can match the paint job on your truck or feature a custom coat of paint if you’re looking for something a bit flashier. The painted cover features a lock, just like the trunk of a regular car would, and pops up on a hinge, similar to the mechanism that opens your hood. While this model is often the most expensive, it is truly one of the best options when it comes to durability, security—and depending on your personal taste—all around style.
If you’ve decided to invest in a tonneau cover, chances are that you and your truck are no stranger to hard work and unforgiving conditions. And whether you invest $500 in a cover for your flatbed or $2,000, you will want to make sure that you practice proper maintenance and upkeep to have it in excellent shape for years to come.
The first crucial thing to always keep your eye on are any bolts, fasteners or locks on your cover. Often made of metal, these components are some of the most susceptible to rust, corrosion and wear. Some good practices to get into are regularly clearing any debris from the joints or hinges and oiling them often to promote smooth connections and prevent the buildup of rust or grime.
Another excellent practice is to simply wash your tonneau cover like you would with any other part of your car. Take a sponge and a mild non-abrasive soap to scrub off any dirt or grime to keep your cover looking its best. If you have a soft top vinyl cover, you may want to look into washing solutions designed specifically for vinyl material. Be sure not to use any abrasive sponges or solutions, as they may damage the material and leave your vinyl looking worn.
Once you get a cover of your own, talk with the dealership or specific company that sold it to you to learn about any other maintenance techniques that are unique to your model. Learn as much as you can about your new purchase to make sure you are well-equipped to keep it in the best possible shape for the years to come.