Regardless of their size, trucks were always a fan-favorite type of vehicle, preferred by the general public for their convenience – especially models featuring an open or exposed truck bed. But, as time passed, people began to notice the problem with having a truck bed without a cover – it didn’t protect their cargo.
When we say “protected,” we mean from a range of weather conditions and UV rays – along with minimizing the chance of their belongings from magically disappearing while on the road.
Our point is, people began to notice the necessity of buying a truck bed tonneau cover.
But buying a tonneau cover is the easy part. Mounting one can get a bit tricky, though. That’s why today, we’ll take a closer look at how to install a truck bed tonneau cover.
We promise that you’ll learn a thing or two about installing those units properly – as long as you keep scrolling!
Why Are Tonneau Covers Necessary These Days?
Go ahead, take a walk around your neighborhood. We can bet you’ll notice that several, if not all, trucks are mounted with a tonneau cover. These car accessories became an instant sensation when they first hit the market – and don’t seem to be going anywhere soon.
One might argue that you can’t even drive without having a tonneau cover mounted on the bed of your truck. You need one to protect your cargo – and why would you even consider driving a truck if not to use the bed as a way to transport cargo.
These vehicles are perfectly designed for transporting goods on both long and short-distance trips. You can place anything in the back of your truck and hit the road in a matter of minutes.
There’s no need for any complications when loading stuff in the bed of your truck, especially if you have a truck bed tonneau cover installed to protect it.
But how does one even install a tonneau cover on a truck bed?
Some people would argue that you don’t need to have a tonneau cover on your truck bed. But we can place a bet that most of those people – if not all – don’t even own, let alone drive a truck regularly.
Because if they did, they’d know that tonneau covers are anything but useless.
So, on that note, if you own a truck with an exposed bed, then you’re quick to realize the pain and struggle of transporting certain stuff when the weather conditions are less than ideal.
We believe that drivers shouldn’t be the only ones that get the comfortable experience of traveling somewhere without needing to soak and freeze in the cold weather.
Inanimate objects in the bed of your truck probably won’t mind the occasional droplet or two. But if you’re loading your vehicle with stuff that mustn’t make contact with any form of moisture, then having a tonneau cover is a must.
On a serious note – before you even buy a tonneau cover, you should evaluate several things.
Measure The Size Of Your Bed Before Installing A Tonneau Cover!
Although most tonneau covers are made to fit nearly all truck beds, some vehicles aren’t compatible with universal-size tonneau covers. Depending on which truck you own, you might not be able to install your newly-bought tonneau cover.
Because of that, the first thing that you should consider before trying to install a truck bed tonneau cover is whether or not it will fit. The tonneau cover has to be compatible with the vehicle that you wish to install it on – or it won’t work.
A quick way to solve that problem is to pay close attention to what the official manufacturer of the tonneau cover you’re interested in says about that unit’s specs.
If the manufacturer states that their cover is compatible with your vehicle, there’s no need to worry about that.
Another thing to consider before buying a tonneau cover is the type of tonneau cover you’ll get and whether or not it will blend nicely with your vehicle’s design.
While we’re at it, tonneau covers are categorized based on their folding mechanism. The most frequently sought-after designs are the tri-fold, roll-up, and retractable tonneau cover folding mechanisms.
The tonneau cover folding mechanism you choose to work with will significantly change the overall user experience.
Luckily, when it comes to installing a truck bed tonneau cover – there aren’t any noticeable differences between the previously mentioned mainstream tonneau cover types.
Are Manuals Always Included With The Tonneau Cover?
Regardless of which tonneau cover you decide to roll with, they will, most likely, have a manual that successfully guides their owners when it comes to the assembly of the unit.
On the off chance that you didn’t receive any instructions from the manufacturer along with your tonneau cover, our advice is to browse the Internet.
Depending on the unit’s complexity, you might need to dig a bit deeper if the tonneau cover isn’t a one-piece model, but it will be worth it.
If you wish to skip the browsing and learn how to install a truck bed tonneau cover as quickly as possible, you’ve come to the right place. You don’t need the manual – you have us!
With or without that manual in your hand, you should begin the assembly process somewhere where you’ll have a lot of free space.
The only requirements here are having a roof above you and a flat surface underneath you.
There are, usually, several tonneau cover pieces that will be either lengthy or bulky in general. And because of that, having a roof over your head and placing those parts on a flat and exposed area is recommended.
Any extra space should be considered a positive thing!
Begin the installation by opening the tailgate of your vehicle. Then, try to locate the side rails of your tonneau cover. Most units usually come with two rails that align and can be mounted on both sides of the truck’s bed rails.
Place the tonneau cover rails on the truck bed rails.
Help Is Always Welcome
It’s recommended that you have an assistant helping you out with the installation process – for this part, at least.
Those rails won’t remain in place without you fixing them. So, if you don’t want to damage your vehicle unnecessarily, ask for an extra pair of hands to help while working on this bit.
When you’re sure that the rails are aligned perfectly, you should pull out the clamps that come with the tonneau cover. Those clamps serve as the primary mechanism for keeping the tonneau cover rails in position – unless you’re open to drilling holes in your truck.
Tighten them all before advancing to the next step.
If you notice there are inconvenient gaps between the rails – for whatever reason – you would naturally consider adding shims. We wouldn’t recommend doing that, and here’s why:
Even if there is a gap somewhere – there will usually be a pretty good reason for the gap’s presence in the first place. Deal with the issue; don’t mask it.
Repeat the process on the second rail.
The Tonneau Cover Must Blend In
Both rails should be identical to the naked eye. If they aren’t aligned, we would suggest that you go over the previous steps again. Any fault during these steps could result in later failures that might cause damage not only to the tonneau cover but even to the vehicle itself.
After you’re sure everything’s in place, use the rubber seal that will likely be included in the box. If there aren’t any rubber seals included with your cover by some chance, then that means that the manufacturer didn’t think that adding a rubber seal along the rails would be necessary.
If so, continue without them.
Place the cover over the rails in the manner listed on the manual. Usually, that means to either tuck or press in the “lid” inside the rail system.
Be careful not to break or tear some part of the cover at this stage; that usually happens to less-experienced people.
Depending on the mechanism, you can now proceed to unrolling or unfolding the cover. After you tested that, and it works, try to shut the tailgate.
Remember that the tonneau cover must align with the position of the tailgate – both in height and length.
Install tonneau cover video
To Wrap Things Up
We can agree that a tonneau cover is a must-have for those who possess a vehicle with an exposed truck bed.
Still, just because you have a tonneau cover somewhere laying in the back of your garage, that doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to install a truck bed tonneau cover.
A manual will usually help you out with that. But, unfortunately, not all of you will have one at your disposal.
To keep things simple:
- Align the tonneau cover rails with your truck bed’s rails
- Tighten them correctly
- Place the top portion of the cover onto the rails
- Connect them carefully
Bolt the cover onto the rails if necessary and recheck the clamps. If you feel the need to tighten the clamps further, feel free to do so. And since we’re already here, we’re glad to inform you that you’ve successfully installed a truck bed tonneau cover.
Enjoy the ride!