If you have a roll-up tonneau cover on your truck, you may need to adjust the tension from time to time. The tension controls how easily the cover rolls up and how tightly it fits over the truck bed. Adjusting the tension is usually pretty straightforward once you know where the tension adjusters are located.
What Is The Proper Tension For A Roll-Up Tonneau Cover?
When setting the tension on your roll-up tonneau, you generally want the loosest tension that still keeps the cover snug. This prevents excessive wear and makes rolling up the cover easier.
Most roll-up covers have the tension set to the loosest setting during installation, usually at position number four. If you need to tighten the cover, you can incrementally adjust it to positions three, two, or one, until you reach the desired snugness.
Where Are The Tension Adjusters On A Roll-Up Tonneau Cover?
The tension adjusters on a roll-up tonneau are typically located at the front and back edges of the cover.
On covers with aluminum slats, you’ll usually find a tension block on each end of the slats that controls the tension. Covers made of vinyl or fabric often have tension knobs or dials instead.
To access the tension adjusters, you’ll need to fully roll open the tonneau cover. Check both the front and rear of the cover to locate the adjusters.
How Do I Adjust The Tension Using A Tension Block System?
Many aluminum roll-up tonneau covers use a tension block system. Here are the steps for adjusting the tension using tension blocks:
Locate The Tension Blocks
Roll your tonneau cover all the way open. Look along the front and back edges of the cover to find the tension blocks. They are typically plastic blocks that the cover material wraps around.
Loosen The Hardware
Use a wrench to slightly loosen the nuts or bolts that hold the tension block in place. Don’t loosen them completely.
Adjust The Position
Slide the tension block along the channel to the desired position. Position 1 is maximum tension, while position 4 has the least tension. Start with position 4.
Tighten The Hardware
Once the tension blocks are set to the desired positions, tighten the nuts or bolts to secure them in place.
Test And Re-Adjust
Roll up the cover and see how the new tension feels. Re-adjust as needed until you get the right snugness.
How Do I Adjust The Tension If My Cover Has Knobs Or Dials?
Some vinyl and fabric roll-up tonneau covers use tension knobs or dials instead of tension blocks. Here is how to adjust the tension using knobs or dials:
Locate The Tension Adjusters
Look along the front and rear edges of the cover when unrolled to find the tension knobs or dials.
Loosen The Knob Or Dial
Turn the knob counter-clockwise or rotate the dial in the loosen direction. This frees up the cover to move.
Reset The Tension
On knobs, re-tighten by turning clockwise. For dials, rotate in the tighten direction. Do this in small increments until the cover is snug but not overly tight.
Test And Re-Adjust
Roll up the cover and ensure the tension feels right. Re-adjust if needed.
What If My Tonneau Has No Visible Tension Adjusters?
Some vinyl roll-up tonneau covers do not have external tension adjusters. In these cases, the tension is set by the torsion springs inside the cover.
Adjusting the tension requires removing a trim piece to access the spring holder and resetting the spring position. Consult your owner’s manual for full instructions on this process. Improper tension adjustments can damage the springs.
Tips For Proper Tonneau Cover Tension
Here are a few tips to help ensure proper tension on your roll-up tonneau:
- Start with the loosest tension setting first, then increase as needed. Overly tight covers wear out faster.
- Adjust both the front and rear tension evenly. Uneven tension can cause tracking issues.
- Tighten incrementally and check after each adjustment. It’s easier to tighten more than to loosen.
- Test the tension by rolling up the cover. Make small adjustments until it rolls smoothly but snugly.
- Recheck the tension seasonally. Temperature changes can affect vinyl and fabric covers.
- Keep tonneau hardware properly tightened. Loose clamps can also cause shifting or sagging.
- Clean the underside of the cover regularly to prevent debris buildup that can impede rolling.
Following the manufacturer’s recommendations and adjusting the tension carefully will keep your roll-up tonneau working its best for years to come. Let us know if you have any other tonneau cover questions!
Frequently Asked Questions About Tonneau Cover Tension
How tight should my tonneau cover be?
The ideal tonneau cover tension is tight enough to keep the cover taut but loose enough to roll up easily. Start with the loosest setting and tighten incrementally as needed. Overly tight covers can tear or wear out faster.
Why does my tonneau cover sag in the middle?
If a roll-up tonneau cover is sagging in the middle, the tension is likely uneven. Make sure to adjust both the front and back tension evenly. Sagging can also be caused by loose hardware or debris buildup – be sure to periodically inspect and tighten the cover components.
What are the downsides of having the tonneau too tight?
An overly tight tonneau cover can lead to premature wear, tearing, difficulty rolling, and excess stress on the cover framework. It’s best to use the loosest tension that still keeps the cover snugly in place. Start loose and tighten as needed in small increments.
Should I adjust the tension seasonally?
It’s a good idea to check your tonneau cover tension at least seasonally. Temperature and humidity changes can cause the vinyl or fabric to expand or contract slightly. A cover that’s tight in the summer might need slight loosening for winter use. Make adjustments as needed.
How do I make a loose tonneau cover tighter?
If your tonneau cover is too loose, you’ll need to tighten the tension. The tension adjusters are typically located at the front and rear edges of the cover. Tighten in increments, testing after each small adjustment. On tension blocks, move to a lower number setting. For knobs or dials, turn or rotate in the tighten direction.
What if my cover is ripped – can I still adjust the tension?
You’ll need to get the cover repaired before properly adjusting tension. A ripped tonneau can’t hold correct tension. Make temporary patches, adjust the tension as loosely as possible, and avoid opening the cover until repaired. Check with your manufacturer or aftermarket installer for repair options.
How do I clean the underside of my tonneau cover?
Use a soft brush and mild soap and water to clean the underside of your tonneau cover periodically. Avoid harsh chemicals. This removes dirt and debris that can impede rolling. Rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly before closing the cover.
Should I use lubricant on the tonneau panels?
Do not use any lubricant like WD-40 on tonneau cover panels. It will damage the vinyl or fabric. The slats are designed to roll freely without lubrication. If rolling is impeded, adjust the tension and clean the cover underside.
Can I adjust the tension myself or do I need a pro?
On most roll-up tonneau covers, the tension can be adjusted easily by the owner using the provided tools. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For covers without exterior tension adjusters, it’s best to have a truck bed cover professional make adjustments to avoid damaging components.
What if adjusting the tension doesn’t fix my tonneau issue?
If you are still having problems like leaking, sagging, difficulty opening, or damage after adjusting the tension, there may be a different underlying issue. Contact your tonneau cover manufacturer or installer for additional troubleshooting and repairs. Don’t try to forcefully adjust components that aren’t meant to be user-adjusted.
Keeping the optimal tension on your roll-up tonneau cover ensures it functions properly while protecting your truck bed. While tension methods vary by model, the general process is straightforward once you locate the tension adjusters. Set the tension as loose as possible while still keeping the cover taut and snug.
Recheck it seasonally and make incremental adjustments as needed. With proper care and tensioning, your roll-up tonneau can give you years of reliable service. Let us know if you have any other tonneau-related questions!