Truck Tonneau Covers - Frequently Asked Questions
- Will tonneau covers improve my gas mileage?
- How effective are tonneau covers at warding off thieves?
- What are the different materials tonneau covers are made of?
- What are the different opening mechanisms featured in tonneau covers?
Will tonneau covers improve my gas mileage?
Yes, they will. When you drive your truck without a cover, air flows into the bed and creates drag, which slows you down and unnecessarily wastes gas. Installing a tonneau cover will block that airflow, making your truck more aerodynamic and saving gas. The gas savings are marginal on a per-trip basis, but if you drive enough you could save hundreds of dollars annually.
How effective are tonneau covers at warding off thieves?
All tonneau covers give you added protection form thieves. Most crimes are the result of opportunity, so just covering up your bed will prevent the idea of stealing out of your truck from even entering the heads of passersby.
But there are some tonneau covers that protect your cargo more than others. A determined thief doesn’t need any James Bond gadget to access a soft tonneau cover: all they need is a razor or even a kitchen knife to cut through the cloth or vinyl.
This isn’t a problem with hard tonneau covers, as the material cannot be cut through. But an especially determined thief may be able to bust the lock of a hard tonneau cover. For the most effective tonneau cover in terms of security, purchase a retractable tonneau cover with an electromagnetic lock.
What are the different materials tonneau covers are made of?
Soft tonneau covers are made of either cloth or vinyl. Hard tonneau covers can be made of hard plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum.
What are the different opening mechanisms featured in tonneau covers?
There 5 options to choose from for the opening mechanism in your tonneau cover: snap, hinged, roll-up, folding, and retractable.
Snap tonneau covers are the cheapest option, but they are also take the longest to open and close. You’ll have to walk around and undo every button and then collect the cover and awkwardly gather it up and secure it to the back of your cab with Velcro straps.
For a few dollars more you can purchase a roll-up or folding tonneau cover, which are much easier to open. These names of these covers perfectly describe their opening mechanism: no irony here. Roll-up tonneau covers roll up towards the cab, and folding tonneau covers are made of three or four panels that fold open.
The disadvantage to a folding cover is that the panels fold on top of each other, so even when completely open you’ll only have access to two-third or three-quarters of your bed (depending on if the cover has three or four panels).
Hinged tonneau covers, which open like a hood, also will prevent you from accessing every part of your truck bed. You’ll have to completely uninstall these tonneau covers to fit some items in. If you often haul cargo that sticks out of the bed and requires 100% accessibility, avoid hinged covers and go with a snap or rolling cover. Most folding covers provide near 100% accessibility although your mileage will vary.
There is one more type of tonneau cover that allows 100% accessibility: retractable covers. These covers also open the quickest, sliding into a canister installing at the cab. You can even buy an electric version that opens hands-free by remote.