If you own a truck with a tonneau cover, keeping it looking great is important. Tonneau covers protect the truck bed and any cargo you store there from the elements. But over time, exposure to sun, rain, snow and road debris can cause tonneau covers to show wear.
You may be tempted to use a product like Armor All Protectant to keep your tonneau cover looking shiny and new. But is Armor All safe for tonneau covers? Will it damage or discolor the material? Here’s what truck owners and experts have to say about using Armor All on tonneau covers.
What Exactly is Armor All Protectant?
Armor All is a popular car care product made by the company Armored AutoGroup. Armor All Protectant is designed to clean, shine and protect vinyl, rubber and plastic surfaces in vehicles.
The protectant contains silicones, which help repel dust and make surfaces shiny. It also contains conditioners and UV protectants.
Armor All markets the protectant as safe for use on tires, dashboards, door panels, consoles and other interior and exterior car surfaces. But some experts warn against using it on certain materials.
Should You Use Armor All on a Truck Tonneau Cover?
The short answer is no – most truck owners and experts don’t recommend using Armor All Protectant on a tonneau cover.
There are a few reasons why Armor All is not ideal for tonneau covers:
1. It can damage some cover materials
Tonneau covers come in different materials like aluminum, vinyl, fiberglass and canvas. The ingredients in Armor All may be too harsh for some of these materials.
Using it on aluminum covers is definitely not recommended, as it can corrode and pit the aluminum over time. The product is also not ideal for canvas covers since it can leak through the fabric and cause staining.
2. It can discolor vinyl covers
While Armor All can be used on vinyl surfaces in vehicles, some tonneau owners report that it has discolored or faded their vinyl tonneau covers.
The protectant may react with the specific type of vinyl material used in tonneau construction. So it’s best not to take the risk of damaging an expensive cover.
3. It attracts dust
A common complaint from truck owners who have used Armor All on tonneaus is that it seems to attract dust like a magnet. Some report a fine layer of dust sticking to the cover days after application.
This dusty haze can be frustrating, since the goal was to keep the cover looking clean in the first place. The silicone oils in Armor All cause the dust-attraction effect.
4. It causes water beading
Armor All leaves behind a slick silicone-based surface. While the product promises to repel water, what often happens with tonneau covers is water beads up and doesn’t sheet off the surface properly.
Water beading can lead to water spotting as the droplets dry. And it defeats the purpose of having a cover over the truck bed if moisture doesn’t drain off it quickly.
Why You Should Avoid Armor All for Your Tonneau Cover
Based on owner experiences and expert advice, Armor All Protectant is not the best choice for caring for your tonneau cover. At best, it could leave your cover worse off than before application. At worst, it could cause permanent damage.
Here are the key reasons to avoid using Armor All on a tonneau cover:
- Not made for tonneau materials – Armor All is designed as a general vinyl/rubber protectant, not specifically for tonneau covers.
- Can damage cover over time – Ingredients like silicone can break down adhesives and materials.
- Discolors vinyl – Tonneau vinyl may react poorly to Armor All.
- Attracts dust – Leaves a slick silicone residue that grabs dust.
- Causes water beading – Repels water instead of allowing it to sheet off the cover.
Your best bet is to use tonneau cover care products specifically designed for truck beds. We’ll cover the best options next.
What’s the Best Protectant for Tonneau Covers?
Rather than using a general vinyl/rubber protectant like Armor All, look for a product designed specifically for tonneau cover care. The best options will:
- Be non-toxic and VOC-free
- Contain UV inhibitors to prevent fading
- Repel dust without heavy silicone oils
- Promote water sheeting to avoid beading
- Leave a matte, non-greasy finish
Here are two top-rated tonneau cover protectants truck owners recommend:
303 Aerospace Protectant
303 Aerospace Protectant is widely considered the #1 product for tonneau care and protection. It’s an ideal choice because:
- Specifically formulated for tonneaus – Won’t damage cover materials.
- UV screening – Prevents fading, cracking and damage from sun exposure.
- Repels dust – Leaves a dry finish that won’t attract dust.
- Matte, non-greasy finish – Enhances appearance without heavy silicone oils.
- Promotes water sheeting – Allows water to sheet off cover.
303 Aerospace Protectant is safe for use on vinyl, plastic, rubber, fiberglass and most tonneau materials. It also protects against mildew and pollution damage. Regular use will keep your cover looking like new.
Griot’s Garage Tonneau Cover Care
Griot’s Garage also makes a tonneau cover cleaner and protectant. Key benefits include:
- pH-balanced formula – Won’t bleach or discolor covers.
- Cleans and shines – Removes dirt, dust and debris.
- UV blockers – Helps prevent sun damage.
- Repels water – Promotes beading and sheeting action.
- Prevents mildew – Protects against mold and mildew growth.
Griot’s Tonneau Cover Care is safe for vinyl, plastic and rubber covers. It cleans gently while adding UV protection and water beading properties.
How to Care for Your Tonneau Cover
Using the right tonneau cover protectant is the first step in proper care. Here is a complete tonneau care routine:
- Regularly wash your cover – Use a mild soap and water to remove dirt and debris. Avoid harsh cleaners.
- Rinse and dry thoroughly – Ensure no soap residue remains. Allow to fully dry.
- Apply protectant – Use 303 Aerospace or Griot’s Tonneau Care. Spread lightly with a soft cloth.
- Buff off residue – Wipe off any excess product so it doesn’t attract dust.
- Reapply as needed – Every few weeks in sunny climates. Up to months in cooler climates.
Proper cleaning and protection will help your tonneau cover last for years. Avoid products like Armor All to prevent damage. Use a protectant designed specifically for tonneau covers instead.
Can I Use Armor All on Other Parts of My Truck?
While Armor All Protectant isn’t recommended for tonneau covers, it can safely be used on many other exterior parts of your truck, including:
- Wheel wells
- Door sills
- Running boards
- Mud flaps
Avoid getting it on painted surfaces, as Armor All can streak and create shiny spots that look unnatural. Use it sparingly and buff off any excess product.
For interior use, Armor All can be used to clean and protect vinyl and rubber surfaces like:
- Door panels
- Floor mats
However, avoid excess application on upholstery, as this can leave greasy spots. Wipe off thoroughly after applying.
Keep Your Truck Looking Great
Your truck’s tonneau cover takes a beating from sun exposure, water, debris and other environmental damage. Take proper care of this important truck bed accessory by using the right tonneau protectant.
Skip Armor All and products not specifically made for tonneau covers. The slight risk of damage or discoloration isn’t worth it. Stick to protectants designed for tonneaus.
Use a high-quality product like 303 Aerospace Protectant or Griot’s Tonneau Care. Follow the proper cleaning and application technique. Your cover will reward you with great looks and lasting performance for years to come.