If you have an aluminum tonneau cover on your truck bed, you know how important it is for water drainage. Tonneau covers protect your cargo from the elements. But without proper drainage, water can accumulate and cause rust, leaks, or other damage.
So where can you find the right drain tubes for your aluminum tonneau cover? In this article, we’ll explore the best places to purchase compatible drain tubes for retractable, tri-fold, and other common aluminum tonneau cover styles.
What Are Tonneau Cover Drain Tubes?
First, what exactly are tonneau cover drain tubes? These are plastic tubes that attach to the underside edges of your tonneau cover. They provide an exit path for rainwater to drain out of the tonneau cover instead of pooling inside.
Drain tubes are essential for allowing moisture to escape from both retractable and hinged aluminum tonneau covers. Water can build up inside the tonneau, especially in the canister of retractable covers. Drain tubes give the water somewhere to go so it doesn’t corrode the aluminum over time.
Where To Buy Replacement Drain Tubes
If your original drain tubes have gone missing or become damaged, you’ll need to find replacements. Here are some of the best places to get compatible drain tubes for your aluminum tonneau cover:
1. Direct From The Tonneau Cover Manufacturer
One of the easiest ways to find the right replacement drain tubes is to contact the manufacturer of your tonneau cover directly. Most will sell individual drain tubes specifically designed for that model.
- Retrax – For Retrax retractable tonneau covers, you can buy their plastic Drain Tube Kit directly from them. It comes with two drain tubes and washers.
- Pace Edwards – Those with Pace Edwards tonneaus can get canister drain tubes for their retractable covers on the company’s website or retailers like etrailer.com.
- Extang – Extang sells an exact fit Drain Tube for the EnCore hard tonneau line, available on their website.
So if buying direct, first look up your tonneau cover brand and model to find the matching drain tubes.
The leading online retailer for truck accessories, etrailer.com stocks drain tubes for major brands like Retrax, Pace Edwards, Extang, and others. They have a wide selection of direct replacement drain tubes for specific tonneau cover models.
For retractable covers, they carry canister drain tubes from manufacturers like Pace Edwards that fit in the cover housing. For hinged folding covers, etrailer has individual drain tubes for the side rails. Enter your tonneau cover model on their website to find an exact fit.
Searching Amazon is another option to find replacement drain tubes sold by third party vendors. You can search for your specific tonneau cover brand and model combined with keywords like “drain tube” or “rail drain”.
Amazon doesn’t have as wide of a selection as specialty retailers. But you can sometimes find obscure or universal fit drain tubes at a discounted price. Read seller reviews and product details closely to ensure compatibility.
4. Auto Parts Stores
Local auto parts stores like O’Reilly Auto Parts, AutoZone, or Advance Auto Parts also sell some tonneau drain tubes. You may be able to find a universal style drain tube that adapts to your cover with some DIY work.
For uncommon tonneau cover models, the selection is hit or miss. But for widely popular covers, you can get lucky finding drain tubes in stock. Ask at the service counter for options.
5. Hardware Stores
Home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s sell various tubes, hoses, and fittings in their plumbing department that can work as DIY drain tubes. You’ll likely need reducers or adapters to fit the tubing to your tonneau cover.
But with some customization, you can often rig up a functional drain tube for just a few dollars.
6. Forums & Owner’s Groups
Truck owner’s forums and groups like Toyota Tundra Forum, Ford F150 Forum, and Tacoma World are great resources. Members share details on repair parts like where they sourced compatible drain tubes for their tonneau covers.
You can browse existing forum posts or create new threads asking about drain tube replacements for your specific truck and cover model to get personalized advice from fellow owners.
How To Install Tonneau Cover Drain Tubes
Once you source the right drain tubes, installing them is a quick process:
- Remove the existing drain tubes if any are left. New drain tubes often screw into the same pre-drilled holes.
- Clean any debris, rust or grime from the mounting holes so the drain tubes fit flush.
- Apply thread seal tape to the threads on your new drain tubes to prevent leaks.
- Screw in the drain tubes by hand until snug. Don’t overtighten.
- Position the drain tube outlets so water can flow freely out of the tonneau cover. Angle down and away from the truck bed.
Adding new drain tubes takes only a few minutes. But it makes a big difference for extending the life of your aluminum tonneau cover. Proper drainage prevents water from pooling and causing damage over time. Check drain tubes occasionally for cracks or clogs. Happy trucking!
Frequently Asked Questions About Tonneau Drain Tubes
Searching for the right replacement drain tubes for your tonneau cover? Here are answers to some common questions on compatible drain tubes:
How much do tonneau cover drain tubes cost?
Drain tubes range from $5-$20 each from the manufacturer. Universal fit tubes are $3-$10. Custom fabrication with hardware store parts starts under $5.
Where do I install drain tubes on my tonneau cover?
Install tubes at the front and rear edges so water can flow out both sides. Some covers also have tubes at the center seam. Follow original drain tube locations.
Do I need anything else to install replacement drain tubes?
Thread seal tape to prevent leaks. Possible hose clamps, reducers or adapters if using universal tubes. Drill holes if none exist.
What are the best materials for drain tubes?
Plastic PVC, rubber, and flexible polymer tubing work well. Avoid rigid metal tubes that can crack coatings when the tonneau flexes.
How can I prevent my new drain tubes from leaking?
Clean surfaces thoroughly. Apply thread seal tape to tube threads. Tighten by hand until snug – don’t overtighten. Check fittings occasionally for leaks.
What happens if I don’t install drain tubes on my tonneau cover?
Water will collect inside the tonneau instead of draining. This can cause corrosion, mold, damage to the truck bed, and premature failure of the cover.
How often should I check my tonneau cover drain tubes?
Inspect drain tubes occasionally when washing your truck. Look for cracks or damage. Clean out any debris clogging the tubes to maintain proper drainage.
DIY Tonneau Cover Drain Tube Options
Can’t find an exact replacement drain tube for your tonneau cover brand? With a bit of DIY ingenuity, you can create functional drain tubes from common hardware store parts.
Here are some universal components that can adapt into drain tubes:
- Plastic PVC tubing – Flexible and comes in various diameters to fit your cover’s drain holes. Attach with reducers and clamps.
- Auto heater hose – Made of durable rubber for flexibility. Use short sections with hose clamps.
- Nylon braided tubing – Withstands weather and resists kinking. Use with adapter fittings.
- Plumbing pipe – Rigid but can be adapted with elbows and connectors. Wrapping in foil tapes helps avoid corrosion.
- Funnel spouts – Cut to length and attach to cover holes with sealant or epoxy.
When buying parts, bring measurements of your current drain tube fittings. Take photos of the original drain tubes on your cover for reference. With adapters, sealant, and clamps, you can engineer custom drain tubes on a budget.
Protect Your Tonneau Cover Investment
Your aluminum tonneau cover protects your truck bed and cargo from sun, rain, wind, and dirt while improving gas mileage. Maintaining the drain tubes ensures water can escape so your tonneau lasts for years.
Check for cracked or missing drain tubes on your retractable, folding, or other aluminum cover style. Replace them promptly with parts from the manufacturer, auto parts stores, Amazon, hardware stores, or DIY adaptations. Properly functioning drain tubes extend the life of your tonneau cover and truck bed by preventing corrosion and water damage.
Now that you know where to source compatible replacement drain tubes, you can keep your aluminum tonneau cover working like new. Drive on and keep your cargo clean, dry, and protected from the elements. Your truck and wallet will thank you!