If you have a tonneau cover on your pickup truck, you know how useful it is for keeping your cargo protected and out of sight. However, tonneau covers can lead to water accumulation and drainage issues. Thankfully, you can purchase replacement or additional drainage tubes to channel water away and keep your truck bed dry.
What Are Tonneau Cover Drain Tubes?
Tonneau cover drain tubes are simple devices that allow water to drain out of the tonneau cover canister or rail system. They are usually made of plastic tubing with a diameter of 5/8 to 3/4 inches.
The tubes run from an opening in the tonneau cover and channel the water out through the truck bed or sidewall. This prevents water from pooling on top of the cover and adds an exit path so it does not get stuck inside the tonneau housing.
Why Do You Need Tonneau Drain Tubes?
There are a few key reasons why drainage tubes are important for optimal tonneau cover performance:
Prevent Water Accumulation
The main purpose of tonneau drain tubes is to prevent rainwater and melting snow from accumulating on top of the cover. The drainage allows the water to run off the cover rather than pooling. This helps avoid overflow issues and heavy weight loads from the standing water.
Stop Water Intrusion
Without proper drainage, water can seep into the tonneau cover housing and componentry. This can lead to corrosion, mold buildup, and potential damage over time. Proper drainage helps keep the internal tonneau parts protected.
Avoid Detrimental Weight Loads
Standing water on top of a tonneau cover can put heavy force on the internal supports and hardware. Tonneau drain tubes help reduce this load and the stress on the cover.
Keep Cargo Area Dry
Tonneau drain tubes allow you to keep your truck bed contents dry, even when it rains or snow melts on top of the cover. The drainage gives the water an exit route before it can drip into the cargo area.
What Tonneau Cover Brands Require Drain Tubes?
Many of the major tonneau cover manufacturers design their covers to work optimally with drainage tubes. Here are some of the main brands that utilize tonneau drain tubes:
Undercover Tonneau Covers
Undercover is one of the most popular brands of hard folding truck bed covers. Most of their covers are designed to integrate with drain tube kits.
BAKFlip Tonneau Covers
BAKFlip folding covers like the BAKFlip MX4 and BAKFlip G2 lean heavily on the use of drain tubes for optimal performance.
Retrax Tonneau Covers
Retrax pioneered the retractable tonneau cover, and most Retrax models rely on drainage tubes to handle rain runoff.
TruXedo Tonneau Covers
TruXedo produces soft roll-up truck bed covers that integrate drainage tubes along the side rails or rear header.
LUND Tonneau Covers
LUND Genesis hard folding covers and Genesis Elite roll-ups use attached drain tubes to manage water accumulation.
Where Can I Buy Replacement Drain Tubes?
If your tonneau cover did not come with drain tubes or they have become worn or clogged, you will need to buy replacements. Here are some recommendations on where to purchase tonneau drain tubes:
Your Tonneau Cover Manufacturer
The easiest solution is often to order replacement drain tubes directly from the company that made your tonneau cover. They will have tubes designed specifically to fit your model. Just search the company website or give their customer service a call.
For example, Retrax offers a replacement drain tube kit for their retractable covers. And TruXedo sells direct-fit drain tubes for their soft roll-ups.
Amazon is a reliable source for aftermarket tonneau drain tubes for most cover brands. Search for the brand name plus “drain tube” and you will likely find compatible options.
Advantages of Amazon are easy shipping and price comparisons between brands and tube materials. Read customer reviews to verify fit and quality.
Auto Parts Stores
Local auto parts stores like AutoZone, O’Reilly, Pep Boys, or NAPA may carry basic universal fit tonneau drain tubes. You can get the parts immediately and ask staff for recommendations.
Just be aware these are not necessarily tailored for your specific cover, so you will need to confirm dimensions and connections. Online parts retailers like Parts Geek and Parts Avatar also carry tonneau accessories.
4 Wheel Parts
For off-roading enthusiasts, the 4 Wheel Parts store offers tonneau drain tubes for brands like Retrax, BakFlip, Extang, and others. They cater to the truck and Jeep crowd.
Tonneau Cover Specialty Shops
There are online retailers that specialize just in tonneau covers and accessories. These experts know their products and can help you find the ideal drain tubes.
Some options are TonneauCoversWorld.com, TonneauCovered.com, TonnoPro.com, RealTruck.com, and many other independent shops. Search for “tonneau drain tube” on their sites.
What Are the Best Materials for Drain Tubes?
Tonneau cover drainage tubes come in a variety of materials. The most common options are:
Plastic Polyethylene (PE)
This flexible plastic tubing is the most widely used material for tonneau drain tubes. Polyethylene stands up well to weather with good bend radius. It is easy to install and inexpensive.
Some tonneau drain kits utilize rubber tubing, which is also flexible and durable to outdoor exposure. Rubber offers efficient water flow. It may be more prone to kinking than plastic PE.
Aluminum & Stainless Steel
Some manufacturers offer metal drain tubes or fittings, which provide increased rigidity. Stainless steel offers the best corrosion resistance if you need maximum longevity.
Silicone is very flexible and can withstand temperature extremes. It is more expensive but provides excellent water flow and speedy drainage.
Any of these materials will handle typical tonneau drainage duties. Focus mainly on getting the right diameter, length, and connection fittings. Also ensure the material suits your truck environment, especially cold winters where flexibility is key.
What Are the Steps to Install Drain Tubes?
Installing replacement or new tonneau cover drain tubes takes just basic tools and mechanical ability. Here is an overview of the process:
Assess Required Tube Type & Quantity
First, examine your tonneau cover framework and manual to determine the proper tube specifications. This includes diameter, length, angle connectors, and number of tubes needed.
Obtain Corresponding Tubes & Fittings
Acquire all the necessary drain tube components to match your cover. This may include tubes, elbow joints, T connectors, end attachment fittings, clamps, etc.
Clean & Dry Mounting Areas
Use a towel and cleaner to clear any dirt, grime or debris from the tube connection points on the tonneau cover frame.
Cut Tubes To Correct Length
For non-tailored tubes, measure and cut to the required size using shears or a utility knife. Leave 1/4 inch extra until final adjustment.
Attach Tubes To Cover Framework
Apply adhesive, slide on clamps, or use screws per the manufacturer instructions to secure the drain tubes firmly into the tonneau cover side rails, canister housing, or end caps.
Route Through Truck Bed
Run the drain tube through the truck bed and out the rear or sidewall according to your cover design. Some drilling may be required.
Connect & Adjust For Slope
Join tube sections with elbows and fittings as needed. Position for optimal downward slope and tighten all connections. Trim any excess tube length.
Test Water Drainage
Pour water onto the tonneau cover to confirm complete and unhindered drainage through the newly installed tubes. Adjust if needed before use.
Follow all safety procedures, use protective eyewear, and consult a professional installer if you are uncertain. Proper drainage tube setup ensures your cover operates correctly.
How Much Does Tonneau Drainage Tubing Cost?
Drainage tubes for tonneau covers range in price from $15 up to $60 or more, with most costing $25 to $40. Here are some factors that influence the tube kit cost:
- Brand – Big names like BakFlip may charge more than lesser known brands.
- Materials – Silicone and stainless steel drain tubes cost more than basic plastic polyethylene.
- Number of Tubes – Covers with 4-5 tubes obviously cost more than single tube systems.
- Special Fittings – Custom connectors, elbows, clamps or hardware add to the price.
- Shop Origin – Buying direct from the tonneau maker often costs more than aftermarket tubes.
- Truck Make & Model – Some tube kits are tailored to specific vehicle fit and dimensions.
With those factors in mind, compare options to find the best combination of price, quality, and performance for your needs. Well-functioning drainage tubes are worth the moderate investment.
Can I Make DIY Tonneau Drain Tubes?
You can create homemade drainage tubes for your tonneau cover as a do-it-yourself project. This requires getting creative with materials on hand. Here are some possibilities:
- Use 1/2 inch plastic tubing or hose from a home store, cut to size. Attach with plastic ties or epoxy.
- Flexible PVC, vinyl, or rubber tubing may work if you find suitable diameters.
- Repurpose plastic tubing or protective casing from other applications.
- Funnel and direct water with gutter extensions or modified downspouts.
- Drill holes and run hard plastic or PVC piping through the bed floor.
Take measurements and mock up positioning before cutting or drilling truck bed components. DIY tubes may not be as weather-resistant or secure as retail kits. But with creative thinking and proper installation, they can provide the essential drainage function.
Key Takeaways: Where to Buy Tonneau Drain Tubes
Hopefully this overview gives you some ideas on where to buy replacement drainage tubes for your tonneau cover. The main options include:
- Ordering direct from your tonneau cover manufacturer
- Shopping on Amazon or major auto parts sites
- Visiting specialty tonneau shops and retailers
- Trying your hand at DIY solutions
Proper drainage helps your tonneau cover last longer and function better through all weather conditions. Installing new tubes when needed will extend the life of your truck bed cover. Just be sure to get tubes specifically made for your cover model.