Pickup truck owners know that having a tonneau cover is essential for protecting cargo in the truck bed. A tonneau cover seals off the truck bed, keeping your gear safe from weather and prying eyes. But these vinyl covers still need proper care and cleaning to stay in good shape. A popular auto detailing product is Armor All, which promises to clean, shine, and protect vinyl, rubber, and plastic surfaces. But will using Armor All on a tonneau cover damage the vinyl?
Does Using Armor All On Tonneau Covers Risk Harming The Vinyl?
There seems to be conflicting opinions on whether Armor All poses a risk to tonneau cover vinyl. Some pickup owners and experts caution against using it, warning that it could potentially damage the vinyl over time. However, others say Armor All is safe for tonneau covers when used properly.
So what’s the real answer? Let’s take a closer look at the facts around using Armor All on tonneau covers.
Can Armor All Cause Vinyl Covers To Crack OrFade?
One of the main concerns with using Armor All is that it could cause vinyl tonneau covers to degrade, crack or fade over time.
The reasoning is that chemicals in Armor All like silicone oil can break down vinyl and dry it out. Some also argue that alcohol in Armor All removes UV-protective coatings on vinyl tonneau covers. This could then allow sunlight to degrade the unprotected vinyl.
However, Armor All says their formula contains “uv protective agents” to condition and restore vinyl. And many users haven’t reported major cracking or fading issues when applying it.
Still, there are some owner anecdotes of tonneau covers developing small cracks after prolonged Armor All use. So there may be a slight risk of gradual vinyl damage.
Can Using Armor All Lead To More Dust And Dirt Buildup?
Another concern is that Armor All leaves an oily residue that can attract dust and dirt. Some tonneau cover owners say after using Armor All, their covers quickly get dirty again after rain or washing.
The worry is that the silicone oils make the vinyl surface slick. This causes dirt and debris to easily cling to the tonneau cover.
However, Armor All says their formula “does not contain any petroleum distillates or oils”. It’s likely the shine from the product is mistaken for an oily residue. Proper cleaning can remove any grime buildup.
So while Armor All may require more frequent tonneau cover cleaning, it may not directly cause more dust attraction.
Can Applying Armor All Help Protect Against UV Rays?
On the plus side, some say that Armor All’s UV agents help protect vinyl tonneau covers from sun damage. The UV blockers in the formula absorb ultraviolet radiation, reducing fading and deterioration.
The product description states it “restores lost luster and protects against fading, cracking and drying”. Users also report the vinyl looks newer again after applying Armor All.
So when used properly, Armor All likely provides a UV protective barrier for tonneau cover vinyl. This could offset any risks of damage over years of sun exposure.
What’s The Recommended Use Of Armor All On Tonneau Covers?
Given the analysis above, what’s the best practice for using Armor All on a truck bed cover? Here are a few tips from the experts:
Use Sparingly On The Vinyl Portions Only
Most say Armor All should only be applied lightly to the vinyl parts of the tonneau cover. It’s not necessary to soak the cover, just use a thin coat.
Avoid getting Armor All on the cover seams, hinges, snaps, or trucks bed rails. Stick to the flat vinyl panels. Overapplying could seep onto other areas and surfaces.
Avoid Using On Canvas Tonneau Covers
For canvas tonneau covers, it’s usually best to avoid Armor All or other vinyl treatments altogether. Sticking to canvas cleaners is the safest option.
Armor All warns against use on canvas convertible tops or fabrics. The chemicals likely aren’t formulated for cotton canvas material.
Clean Surface First For Best Results
Make sure to wash your tonneau cover before applying Armor All. Use a mild soap and water solution to remove any dirt and grime from the vinyl.
This allows the Armor All to penetrate better for optimum UV protection and conditioning. It also prevents trapping in debris, which could lead to increased dust buildup.
Reapply Every Few Months As Needed
Reapplying Armor All every 2-3 months helps maintain the vinyl protection. More frequent use in harsh weather or sun exposure may be beneficial as well.
Periodic reapplication replaces any UV blockers that have worn off. It also restores the vinyl’s luster after months of use.
Check Manufacturer Guidelines On Your Cover
Finally, consult the use and care instructions from your tonneau cover manufacturer. They would best know if Armor All or similar protectants are safe to use on their vinyl.
Some may specifically recommend vinyl conditioners, while others warn certain chemicals could void warranties. So check the included guidelines first before applying anything.
Are There Any Good Armor All Alternatives For Vinyl Covers?
If you’re still uneasy about using Armor All, there are alternatives specifically made for tonneau covers. Here are some other options owners recommend:
303 Aerospace Protectant
This UV protector is popular for tonneau covers and other automotive vinyls. 303 Aerospace contains UV blockers and “does not contain silicone, petroleum distillates or oils”. It cleans, conditions, and protects vinyl without a greasy feel.
Griot’s Garage Vinyl and Rubber Dressing
Griot’s dressing is a milder formula made for vinyl car parts and rubber trim. It hydrates and restores luster while preventing future fading and cracking. Users mention it doesn’t leave a slick, oily finish.
Meguiar’s Vinyl and Rubber Conditioner
As another well-known auto brand, Meguiar’s conditioner is vinyl-safe and nourishes rubber as well. The non-oily formula doesn’t smear or attract dirt on tonneau covers after drying.
Carrand Tire Shine
Surprisingly, this tire coating is touted by some as a tonneau protectant. A light coat on vinyl provides a clean, factory-like sheen without any greasiness. It’s an easy spray-on option for vinyl maintenance.
CoverCraft UV Protectant
Made specifically for tonneau covers, CoverCraft’s UV cream restores vinyl appearance and guards against sun damage. The water-based formula absorbs into the material instead of leaving a surface film.
So in summary, while Armor All is likely fine for occasional tonneau cover use, there are specially designed vinyl products that are safer long-term. As always, properly cleaning truck bed covers is still the best way to keep vinyl covers looking their best.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Armor All On Tonneau Covers (With Examples)
Still have some lingering questions about using Armor All on that vinyl tonneau cover? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions for clearer guidance:
Is it ok to use Armor All on my vinyl tonneau cover?
Armor All is likely fine for occasional use on tonneau cover vinyl. But long-term, frequent use could potentially damage the vinyl over time. Specialty vinyl UV protectants are the safest choice for tonneau upkeep.
How often can you use Armor All on a tonneau cover?
At most, Armor All should be used every 2-3 months on tonneau covers. More frequent use may leave excess product behind and risks vinyl damage long-term. Reapply only as needed to restore luster.
What happens if you use Armor All too much on vinyl?
Overusing Armor All could lead to a gummy, greasy buildup on the tonneau cover vinyl. It could also seep into seams and cause vinyl breakdown over years. Stick with only a light coat on the flat vinyl areas only.
Should you use Armor All on a canvas tonneau cover?
No, Armor All and similar vinyl protectants shouldn’t be used on canvas tonneau cover material. Stick to mild soap and water for cleaning canvas covers instead.
What is the best protectant for vinyl tonneau covers?
Popular tonneau cover protectants are 303 Aerospace Protectant, Meguiar’s Vinyl and Rubber Conditioner, Griot’s Garage Vinyl and Rubber Dressing, and CoverCraft UV Protectant. Avoid silicone-based products.
Does Armor All prevent sun damage on tonneau covers?
Yes, Armor All does contain UV blockers that can help protect tonneau cover vinyl from sun damage and fading over time. But dedicated vinyl protectants are designed to withstand even harsher UV exposure.
Can you use tire shine on a tonneau cover?
Some tonneau cover owners do use tire shine products like Carrand Tire Shine as vinyl dressings. But these aren’t formulated for tonneau cover materials specifically. Mild tire sprays may work, but use caution.
Does Armor All leave a residue on tonneau covers?
While not technically greasy or oily, Armor All can leave behind a slick silicone-based coating on the surface. This could attract dust but can be removed with proper vinyl cleaning methods.
Will Armor All damage tonneau cover snaps/zippers?
Yes, it’s best to avoid getting Armor All on any tonneau cover fasteners or hardware. The chemicals could breakdown rubber gaskets or cause zippers to corrode over time.
So in summary, selective and careful use of Armor All on tonneau cover vinyl seems to be generally safe. But there are likely better options for protecting and enhancing tonneau covers long-term. As always, check your cover manufacturer’s guidance and properly clean the vinyl to keep your cover looking its best.