Do you have a soft roll-up tonneau cover on your truck bed that seems to be sagging at the corners? Those unsightly, drooping corners can ruin the sleek look of your truck and allow water to pool in the sagging areas. Thankfully, there are some simple fixes you can try at home to tighten up that tonneau cover and stop the sagging for good.
What Causes Tonneau Cover Corners To Sag?
Before diving into solutions, it helps to understand what causes the sagging in the first place. Here are some of the most common culprits:
If the soft tonneau cover was not installed correctly or tensions were not set evenly during the initial installation, it can lead to sagging corners later on. The cover needs to sit flush and tight across the whole truck bed.
Material Stretching Out
Over time, the fabric material of soft tonneau covers can stretch out, especially in areas that endure the most tension. This natural stretching can cause the corners to droop.
Poor Quality Materials
Cheaper covers made with low-grade materials are more prone to quick stretching and sagging issues. Investing in a quality cover made of durable materials can help avoid this problem.
Damage or Rips
Any rips, holes or damage to the cover, especially near the corners, can lead to sagging. The corners need intact, resilient material to stay upright.
Now that you know why tonneau covers sag, let’s explore your options for tightening up those corners again.
How To Tighten Tonneau Cover Corners
Adjust the Tension
The first thing to try is adjusting the tension on your existing tonneau cover installation. Many covers have tension rods or control knobs built into the side rails that allow you to tighten or loosen the fabric tension.
Start by tightening the tension knobs or rods a little at a time, moving in diagonal opposing directions. For example, tighten the front left knob, then the rear right, alternating back and forth until the cover sits evenly. Don’t over-tighten or you could damage the cover.
Check for Extra Tension Knobs
Some premium tonneau cover models have extra tension knobs located mid-way in the rail covers. These allow you to specifically target and tighten the sagging corner areas. If your cover has these handy knobs, use them to remove any slack in the corners.
Stretch the Fabric
If adjusting tension doesn’t do the trick, try manually stretching the cover fabric. This is especially helpful for canvas or vinyl materials that naturally stretch over time.
On a warm, sunny day, set the tonneau cover out flat with the fabric side up. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes so the sun gently warms the material. Then, pull up on each corner and along the edges to stretch the fabric. Take care not to over-stretch the material. Repeat this periodic stretching as needed to keep the corners taut.
Re-Install the Cover
In some cases, you may need to completely remove and re-install the tonneau cover to reset the tensions properly across the whole cover. Refer to your installation manual for directions. Make sure to tighten all screws and tension knobs evenly during the re-installation.
Use Support Bows
Some soft tonneau covers come with, or offer as an accessory, aluminum support bows. These bows install on the underside of the cover and help reinforce the shape, preventing corner sagging. Check to see if your cover manufacturer offers support bows that are compatible with your model.
Replace the Cover
If your cover is old and no amount of tensioning helps with the sagging, it may be time for a brand new replacement cover. Look for durable vinyl or thick canvas materials that withstand stretching and harsh weather conditions for years to come. And be sure to install the new cover properly per the instructions.
With a few simple adjustments, you can tighten up that troublesome tonneau cover and restore a smooth, sleek look to your truck bed. Careful installation and periodic maintenance will help prevent the sagging corners from returning. And if needed, seek out professional guidance to ensure the cover gets installed correctly. Don’t tolerate ugly, drooping corners – take action to fix your tonneau cover sag today!
What Are Some Common Problems With Soft Tonneau Covers?
While soft tonneau covers offer many benefits like weather protection, security, and improved gas mileage, they can develop some issues over time. Here are a few common problems to be aware of:
Sagging or Loose Fabric
As discussed previously, sagging corners and loose fabric are common problems, especially as the material ages and stretches. Following the tightening tips above can typically resolve this issue.
Leaks allow water to seep into the truck bed, defeating one main purpose of a tonneau cover. Make sure to seal any rips or holes immediately. Also check that the cover sits flush with the bed and seals tightly all around.
Stiff, sticking, or frozen opening/closing mechanisms can be a headache. Lubricate hinges and clamps with silicone spray. In winter, gently break any ice buildup. Avoid forcing mechanisms.
Tears, damage, or unlocked latches can allow thieves to gain access to the truck bed, bypassing the cover’s security. Regularly inspect for damage and reinforce/repair any vulnerabilities.
Some covers can flap loudly when driving, especially if improperly secured. Adjust tensions, reinforce seams if needed, and check for gaps where wind enters.
How Do You Clean and Care For a Soft Tonneau Cover?
Like any truck accessory, soft tonneau covers require regular cleaning and care to keep them looking and functioning their best. Here are some top tips:
Frequently remove any accumulated debris like leaves, branches or dirt. These can abrade the fabric over time. Carefully sweep or brush debris off the cover.
Every few weeks, give the cover a thorough cleaning. Use a mild soap and soft brush or sponge. Rinse well with clean water. Avoid harsh cleaners or abrasives.
Protect from UV Damage
UV rays can accelerate fabric breakdown. Use a tonneau cover conditioner containing UV blockers to protect from sun damage. Park in shade when possible.
Check Drain Tubes
Make sure drain tube holes or channels are clear of debris so rainwater can easily run off. Clogged drains can lead to sagging spots.
Touch Up Scuffs
Lightly scuffing is normal wear and tear. Use a vinyl/rubber protectant to keep the cover looking like new. Avoid heavy vinyl conditioners that leave greasy residue.
Seal Rips or Holes
As soon as small rips or holes appear, seal them with a tonneau cover repair kit. Water entry will only expand the damage.
With proper cleaning and care, your soft tonneau cover should provide many years of reliable service! Letting grime build up, or ignoring small damage, leads to bigger problems later on. Get in the habit of regular tonneau cover maintenance.
What Accessories Help Keep a Soft Tonneau Cover in Good Condition?
Investing in some handy accessories can make caring for your soft tonneau cover much easier. Here are some must-have accessories:
Tonneau Cleaning Brush
A soft-bristle cleaning brush lets you easily sweep off dust and debris after hauling yard waste, construction materials, etc. The brush helps lift dirt from fabrics without abrasion.
Tonneau Cover Protectant
These specially formulated vinyl or fabric protectants contain UV blockers, water repellents and conditioners to keep covers supple. Use a few times per year.
Tonneau Cover Support Bows
These bows install under the cover to reinforce the shape. They prevent sagging corners and fabric stress. Great for oversized loads.
Edge Seal Trim
Adhesive edge trim seals around the perimeter of the cover to prevent wind whip and water intrusion. Self-sticks to the inner side rail lip.
Drain Tube Cleaners
Thin, flexible brushes clear out debris from the cover’s drain tubes. Keep drains clear to prevent water pooling on the cover.
Tonneau Repair Kit
Vinyl repair patches, glue, and seam sealant quickly mends rips, holes, or seam leaks. Make repairs as soon as damage occurs.
These stylish caps install over your truck’s bed rails, covering the clamps, rails, and edges of the tonneau for a sleek, finished look.
With the right accessories on hand, you can easily keep your soft tonneau cover spotless, conditioned, and protected – so it lasts for many years of dependable service!
How Does Proper Use and Maintenance Increase the Lifespan of a Tonneau Cover?
By properly installing, using, and caring for your soft tonneau cover, you’ll ensure it lasts for the long haul. Here’s how good tonneau cover practices increase longevity:
Correctly installing the cover as per the directions allows for proper tensioning and sealing. Taking time to do this right prevents premature issues.
Frequently inspect the cover for any developing problems like sagging, rips, leaks, etc. Early detection means repairs can be made before major damage occurs.
As soon as wear and tear happens, make repairs right away. Small issues quickly become big headaches if left unaddressed.
Regular cleaning prevents abrasive dirt or grime from degrading the fabric. Wash off any chemical or environmental buildup.
Sun exposure degrades materials. Using a conditioner with UV blockers will extend the life of the fabric or vinyl cover.
Open, close, and secure the cover properly each time. Don’t overload the bed. Avoid scraping or dragging sharp objects over the cover.
During winter or long storage periods, keep the cover clean and secured in a garage or cover. Never fold/store the cover wet or dirty.
By caring for your soft tonneau cover properly throughout its lifetime – you’ll get the maximum return on your investment through years of like-new performance. The effort is well worth it!
Does Lubricating the Tonneau Cover Help It Open and Close Easier?
Yes, lubricating key components of your soft tonneau cover can definitely help it glide open and closed with less sticking or stiffness. Here’s how it helps:
Lubricant reduces friction in hinges, bearings, rails, clamps, and other moving parts – allowing smoother operation.
Prevents Rust Buildup
In humid or winter conditions, lubrication prevents rust and corrosion from seizing up mechanical components.
The lubricant’s slippery properties prevent water or condensation from clinging to parts and causing them to stick or freeze up.
Squeaky hinges or latching mechanisms are quieted by a dose of lubricant on the rubbing surfaces.
Detergents and solvents in the lubricant help dissolve impacted grime or grease buildup.
The lubricating film helps prevent metal-on-metal grinding that could wear down components prematurely.
Lubricating your tonneau cover once or twice per year keeps everything operating smoothly in all seasons. Use a lightweight oil, silicone, or lithium grease recommended by your cover manufacturer. With just this simple maintenance, you’ll prevent frustration from a balky, stubborn cover for years to come!
Why is Proper Tonneau Cover Tension Important?
Maintaining proper tension across the entire surface of your soft tonneau cover is crucial for several reasons:
Taut fabric that doesn’t flutter or flap reduces wind noise and stress on the material. It also enhances fuel economy.
With tight, even tension, water runs off the cover instead of pooling in low spots. Good drainage prevents leakage.
A tight cover with no gaps or slack spots provides maximum security by sealing out prying fingers or tools.
Fabric that lightly drapes against the rails during driving will quickly abrade. Taut fabric stays up off contact surfaces.
Loose, saggy fabric is easy for thieves to slice through. Tight tension gives no toehold for blades.
A wrinkle-free cover with crisp, tight edges gives your truck a refined, upscale look.
Flapping in the wind leads to ripped seams and frayed edges over time. Even tension keeps the cover tautly in place.
For optimal tonneau cover performance, regularly check the tensions and adjust as needed. Your cover should feel uniformly drum-tight across the entire surface.
What Are Some Tips for Opening a Stuck Tonneau Cover?
When your soft tonneau gets stuck shut and refuses to open, it can be incredibly frustrating. Before forcing it, try these tips to gently coax open a stubborn cover:
- Check for ice buildup around hinges and clamps. Carefully break up or melt any ice with warm water. Don’t chip at it!
- Spray silicone lubricant on any frozen or sticky pivoting joints. Let it penetrate for 5 minutes.
- Release all clamps before trying to open the cover. Forgetting just one can keep it stuck.
- Push up on the cover near the tailgate before retracting the release lever. This takes tension off the mechanism.
- Try gently wiggling the cover side-to-side or end-to-end to break any sticking points loose.
- Loosen then retighten the tension knobs to reset the fabric position.
- Remove any accumulated debris, leaves, pine needles, etc. around hinges or tracks.
- Close the tailgate before opening the cover. Sometimes the pivot interferes.
- Ensure zippers or Velcro closures are fully undone. Check for any fabric caught in them.
- Confirm nothing is loaded against the cover inside the bed. Shift any items away.
With multiple gentle attempts at releasing different stuck points, your stubborn tonneau should finally pop free! Avoid forcing it open at all costs.
Why is Tonneau Cover Lubrication so Important in Cold Weather?
Lubricating your soft tonneau cover before winter is crucial to prevent it from freezing up in frigid temperatures. Here’s why it’s so effective:
Prevents Ice Buildup
A thin film of lubricant prevents snowmelt and condensation from refreezing on hinges and bearings. This ice quickly immobilizes the cover.
Melts Existing Ice
Spraying lubricant on frozen components helps melt the ice so moving parts can operate freely again.
The slippery lubricant prevents water from adhering to metal components in the first place. This stops ice from forming.
Cold, damp conditions promote fast rusting of any exposed metal. Lubricant coats and protects surfaces from corrosion.
In sub-freezing cold, plastic and fabric parts stiffen up dramatically. Lubricant keeps things gliding smoothly despite the cold.
Cleans Away Salt
Road salt used for winter traction can leave crusty buildup on truck parts. Lubricant dissolves and cleans away the salty residue.
Don’t take a chance on your tonneau cover seizing up halfway open on a freezing winter day! Lubricate it thoroughly before the deep cold sets in, and repeat monthly for optimum performance all winter.
What Should You Avoid Doing When Installing a Soft Tonneau Cover
Improper installation of your soft tonneau cover often leads to problems down the road. Be sure to avoid these mistakes during initial installation:
- Don’t over-tighten tension knobs. This can damage the fabric or rails. Tighten only until the cover feels uniformly taut.
- Avoid uneven tightening. This leads to eventual sagging in under-tensioned areas. Tighten methodically across the whole cover.
- Don’t allow the fabric to drape onto the bed rails when closed. Abrading will quickly wear through the material.
- Don’t rely on adhesive sealants alone for a watertight seal. Use a high-quality sealant in conjunction with proper tensioning.
- Refrain from drilling new holes in the bed rails. Use the existing factory holes for clamps to prevent leaking.
- Don’t attach the cover over existing bed liner material. Remove the liner underneath for a flush, secure fit.
- Avoid overloading the center of the cover with cargo. This stresses the fabric and hardware. Distribute loads evenly.
- Never use sharp tools or walk on the cover. Punctures and sole imprints are impossible to remove.
By carefully following the installation directions, you’ll avoid novice mistakes that compromise the cover’s function and longevity down the road. Take your time and do it right the first time!