Using Armor All on a vinyl tonneau cover is generally considered safe, but there are some important caveats. While Armor All can provide shine and protection, it also has some potential downsides that truck owners should consider before using it on a tonneau cover.
This article will examine the pros and cons of using Armor All on vinyl tonneau covers to help truck owners make an informed decision.
What Are The Benefits of Using Armor All on Vinyl Tonneau Covers?
Armor All is a popular product designed to clean, shine, and protect vinyl, rubber, plastic, and leather surfaces in vehicles. Here are some of the touted benefits of using it on a vinyl tonneau cover:
Keeps the Cover Looking New
The acrylic polish and protectant ingredients in Armor All help restore and maintain the rich black color and factory sheen of vinyl tonneau covers. It can make a faded, dull cover look dark and glossy again.
Armor All leaves behind a layer of protectant that causes dust to bead up on the surface of the cover. This makes it easier to simply brush off dust instead of it sticking and embedding in the vinyl grain.
Guards Against UV Damage
The UV-resistant formula helps shield vinyl tonneau covers from the sun’s ultraviolet rays which can cause discoloration, brittleness, and cracking over time. It adds a protective barrier.
Prevents Cracking and Drying Out
The conditioners in Armor All help keep vinyl supple and prevent it from drying out and becoming stiff. This can help extend the life of the cover.
So in summary, when used properly, Armor All can restore shine, prevent dust buildup, protect against UV rays, and condition the vinyl on tonneau covers. This can help them maintain that like-new look for longer.
What Are the Potential Drawbacks of Using It?
However, there are some potential drawbacks to using Armor All on a vinyl truck bed cover that should be considered:
Could Damage Cover Over Time
While it contains protectants and conditioners, Armor All does not contain UV inhibitors specifically designed for vinyl. Constant exposure to the sun can still damage covers over time, possibly even faster with Armor All applied.
Not Made Specifically for Tonneaus
Armor All is a general purpose product not specially formulated for tonneau covers. It lacks the specialized UV blocking agents and vinyl cleaners/protectants found in tonneau-specific products.
May Invalidate Warranties
Some tonneau cover manufacturers explicitly state that using Armor All or similar products invalidates the warranty and can cause premature cracking, peeling, and breakdown of the vinyl.
Attracts Dust and Dirt
Though it initially repels dust, some find that Armor All eventually attracts more dust and dirt buildup on tonneau covers over time. The oily residue can hold grime.
Causes Vinyl to Streak and Spot
The silicones and gloss agents in Armor All can cause difficult-to-remove streaking and spotting on vinyl covers, especially in the sun. This can detract from the appearance.
Armor All can leave vinyl covers with a slick, slippery surface. This can make standing on the cover more treacherous.
So while the glossy, dark finish Armor All provides may look good at first, the cons above show it may not be the best choice long-term for tonneau covers.
Does Armor All Damage Vinyl Tonneau Covers?
Based on the above pros and cons, using Armor All occasionally may not cause immediate damage, but long-term frequent use could shorten the life of a vinyl cover.
The slick oily finish can actually allow UV rays, dirt, and grime to penetrate deeper into the grain of the vinyl which degrades it over time. The chemicals in Armor All also dry out and weaken vinyl over time.
And as mentioned, using it may void manufacturer warranties against cracking and premature wear. So while an occasional application may not be disastrous, relying solely on Armor All to maintain a tonneau cover could be damaging.
What Do Tonneau Cover Manufacturers Recommend?
Rather than using a general vinyl product like Armor All, most tonneau cover makers recommend using the cleaner and protectant specifically designed for their covers.
These specialized tonneau cover products contain UV inhibitors, softeners, and vinyl cleaners tailored to the exact materials used in their covers. This optimizes protection and preserves the factory finish.
Cover manufacturers like UnderCover, BakFlip, and Extang all make their own tonneau cover care products designed to preserve, protect, and enhance their covers for the long haul. They generally advise against using Armor All or similar all-purpose vinyl products.
What Are Some Armor All Alternatives For Vinyl Covers?
Here are a few products that are safer alternatives to Armor All for maintaining vinyl tonneau covers:
- 303 Aerospace Protectant – Specifically designed to protect, condition, and restore vinyl, rubber, and plastic on vehicles. Contains UV blockers.
- Meguiar’s M40 – A vinyl cleaner and protectant safe for tonneaus. Helps restore color and luster while resisting fading, cracking, and aging.
- Chemical Guys VRP – Vinyl, rubber, and plastic protectant formulated to keep tonneau covers looking pristine. Fights UV damage.
- Griot’s Garage Vinyl & Rubber Care – Non-greasy UV protection specially made for vehicle surfaces like tonneau covers. Helps delay aging.
- Manufacturer Tonneau Cover Care Products – Tailor-made for specific covers, these provide ideal protection and longevity.
Can I Use Armor All on a Rubber Tonneau Cover?
Rubber tonneau covers are less prone to damage from using Armor All compared to vinyl versions. The rubber material is more flexible and resistant to UV rays.
However, some manufacturers still advise against using non-specifc products and recommend their own tonneau cover care regimens. Using their custom-designed cleaners and protectants ensures optimal performance.
While Armor All is a popular general-purpose vinyl protectant, it has some significant drawbacks for use on vinyl tonneau covers. The prospect of premature cracking, damage, voided warranties, and dirt attraction make tonneau-specific products a wiser choice.
Occasional use may not hurt, but relying solely on Armor All is not advisable for tonneau care. Following the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations will provide the best durability and appearance. With proper care, vinyl covers can maintain their factory-fresh look and weather resistance for years.