Last Updated on May 2, 2022
Tonneau covers help to protect your truck bed and the belongings you carry from bad weather or any other obstacle. A tonneau cover is one of the essential accessories truck owners use all over the world. In this article, we will be focusing on the process of installing a tonneau cover.
Want to know about different tonneau covers? Click here. (What is a tonneau cover)
Installing a tonneau cover isn’t that hard. To make sure the perfect installation, you must know the total process in detail. We will be guiding you to that perfect installation by providing the best installation process you can find right at your fingertips.
Let’s start with all the tools you’ll need to install a tonneau cover. All these tools aren’t required in every installation. With each particular tool we will describe why and what type cover will require that.
You will need some tools to install a tonneau cover. All these tools are just some simple tools that you may have lying around your house. These tools are required for a perfect installation. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. You can find a way to work around that.
- Wrench – to tighten the clamps. A right sized socket will do the job as well.
- Measure tape – to measure your truck’s bed rails, tonneau cover’s side rails, or the truck bed.
- Protective eyewear – to protect your eyes.
- Scissors – if it requires cutting your bed liner. A sharp knife or some kind of blade will work as well.
- Clamps – all the tonneau cover comes with necessary clamps, you can use yours if they are better than the provided ones.
- Drill – not necessary for all types of cover. If your cover has drain tubes you might need a drill to make two holes on your truck bed.
Some tonneau covers don’t require any tool to install. Most of them are soft-type covers. These tonneau covers also come with some kind of pre-installed clamp locks. If you buy one of those, you won’t need to worry about tools. But, you aren’t here to learn about that. Let’s move to the next part of installation guide.
Checking all the parts and Compatibility
Before starting the installation process, let’s check all the parts. Nowadays all the manufacturers provide custom-fit tonneau covers for your truck’s model and bed size. If you bought such a tonneau cover, you are set to go. If not, you should check if all the parts are in the right size.
- Side rails: You must check if the side rails are in the right size. That’s why you need a measuring tape. If you don’t have a measuring tape, just put the side rails over your truck’s bed rails. If they are a perfect fit (it’s ok if they are a few inches short, it is designed that way) move on to the next part.
- Provided Clamps/screws/bolts: Different tonneau cover comes with different clamps/screws/bolts. You don’t need to check their size. They usually are the same in size for all the models and sizes. Just count them and check if the number is correct according to the user manual. The number should be even.
- Cover: Now check the cover (the part which will be the cover) for any potential damage. Sometimes it gets damaged in shipping. If it’s damaged during shipping, you can and should replace it from your provider.
- Compatibility: Some tonneau covers don’t work with bed rail caps, specific types of bed liners, or utility toolboxes. You must know that before buying a tonneau cover.
- If your tonneau cover doesn’t work with bed rail caps or the bed liner you have, don’t worry. Remove the bed rail caps (they aren’t necessary if you have a tonneau cover) and cut the bed liners (this is where you have to use scissors).
- If the tonneau cover doesn’t support the toolbox (ex: Rambox) you have, then you either have to remove it or replace it with a new one that supports that toolbox.
- Cutting holes for drain tubes: Some hard type tonneau cover includes two drain tubes to drain the rainwater out. If you bought one of those covers and don’t have holes for those drain tubes, you’ll need to use a drill to make two holes in your truck bed.
If all these things look good you can start the installation.
The following steps will guide you to a perfect installation. These steps are described thoroughly to help you understand better and follow them perfectly. All you need to do is, read them carefully and follow them one by one.
- Unlock the tailgate: You have to unlock your truck’s tailgate first. During the installation, it will require you to go on the truck’s bed several times.
- Seal the bulkhead side: If your truck’s bulkhead is lower than the bed rails, you must install a rubber seal or weatherstrip (some company provides one with a tonneau cover). You can also attach weather strips on the bed rails for a better seal. Just remember that the bulkhead and bedrails height should match.
- Align the side rails: Take your side rails and put them over the bed rails on both sides. Align them with the inner side of your truck’s bed rails (use a measuring tape to be sure). Fasten the clamps to keep those side rails in place (don’t tighten them completely, you may need to adjust those rails later).
- Fitting the cover: Now carry the cover and put it over the bed rails on the bulkhead side. You may need a second pair of hands if the cover is too heavy to carry for one person. You will see two bolts hole, screws, or something to attach the cover with those side rails (different covers have different mechanisms). Attach that cover with the side rails (do not tighten the bolts or screws completely).
- Check the fit: Open the cover fully and lock the tailgate. The cover should reach the tailgate. If not, you should check the bulkhead side and align it perfectly.
- Tighten all the nuts and clamps: You should tighten the bolts or screws between the cover and side rails. Then tighten all the clamps to attach with the side rails. They will secure the side rails with your truck’s bed rails.
- Install a weather strip over the tailgate (if necessary): If you see any gap between the tonneau cover and tailgate and you feel that it may leak water during rain, install a weather strip on the tailgate. If the gap is less than ½ inches you don’t need to worry about that.
And that is the end of the installation process. Now you are set to go on a drive with the newly installed tonneau cover.
A tonneau cover can provide many facilities other than protecting the cargo or truck bed from the weather. It provides security against thievery or other obstacles that may come while driving or parked. And a tonneau cover always increases the look of your truck. The procedures provided above will help you to install any kind of tonneau cover. If you have any questions or suggestions (for us), please leave a comment below.
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