A vinyl tonneau cover can be a great way to protect your truck’s cargo area. But over time, the snaps that hold the cover closed can start to break. If your tonneau cover isn’t staying shut like it used to, it’s likely due to broken snaps.
What Causes Vinyl Tonneau Snaps To Break?
There are several reasons the snaps on a vinyl tonneau cover may start to fail:
Cold Weather Can Cause Vinyl Shrinkage
Vinyl tonneau covers are prone to contracting in cold temperatures. When the vinyl shrinks in winter weather, it puts extra tension on the snaps. This can lead to the snaps breaking when trying to close or fasten the cover. Storing the truck in a garage and using vinyl protection sprays can help prevent winter shrinkage issues.
Normal Wear and Tear Over Time
With repeated opening and closing over years of use, the vinyl tonneau cover snaps eventually wear out. The constant pressure causes the snaps to weaken and deteriorate until they can no longer withstand the tension. This tends to happen faster if the snaps are pulled on forcefully when closing the cover.
If the vinyl tonneau cover is not installed correctly, the snaps may be under abnormal strain. When the snaps are not properly aligned and secured during initial fitting, it puts excessive tension on them. This constant tension can cause premature snap failure.
Using Excessive Force to Close the Snaps
Snaps break more easily if excessive force is used to close them. Pulling too hard on the vinyl cover to get the snaps together can overstress and damage the snaps. It’s important to close the snaps gently without putting unnecessary pressure on them.
Exposure to Sun and Weather Takes a Toll
Years of exposure to UV rays, dirt, debris, rain, snow, and temperature extremes can degrade vinyl tonneau cover snaps. The weathering effects of the sun and elements weakens the snaps over time, making them more prone to breaking.
Poor Quality Snaps from the Start
Some vinyl covers may come with low-quality snaps that are brittle and weak. Weak snaps are more likely to crack and break sooner, especially if subjected to frequent opening and closing of the cover. Choosing a reputable brand tonneau cover can help avoid issues with substandard components.
How to Prevent Snaps From Breaking on Your Vinyl Tonneau
Here are some tips to help keep the snaps intact on your vinyl truck bed cover:
Install the Cover Properly
Be sure to follow all the steps in the installation instructions precisely. Improper alignment of the snaps will put excess strain on them and cause premature breakage. Take time to position the cover correctly.
Handle the Snaps Gently
When opening and closing the cover, don’t yank or pull hard on the vinyl. Gently bring the edges together and press the snaps closed without forcing them. Avoid tugging on the cover when the snaps are fastened.
Use Protectants on the Vinyl
Applying vinyl protectants or cleaners/conditioners helps keep the tonneau cover vinyl supple. This reduces the chance of the vinyl shrinking or contracting and putting additional stress on the snaps. Don’t use armor all, petroleum jelly, or household cleaners as these can actually damage the vinyl.
Avoid Extreme Temperatures
If possible, open the tonneau cover during very hot weather and remove it or use a protective tonneau cover in winter. This minimizes the contraction and expansion of the vinyl that strains the snaps. Store the truck indoors or under a shelter when not in use.
Inspect Snaps Frequently
Check the snaps often for signs of wear, damage, or loosening. Replace any damaged snaps promptly before they can fully break. Look for loosening or detachment from the vinyl that may indicate the snap is failing.
Consider Adding Velcro
Adding velcro strips along the tonneau edges provides additional closure reinforcement. The velcro helps take some of the strain off the vinyl snaps as it shares the burden of holding the cover closed.
Upgrade to More Durable Snaps
If the snaps are breaking frequently, consider replacing them with heavier duty stainless steel snaps. These are stronger and more corrosion resistant than standard snaps. Just take care not to overtighten them during installation.
Replace Damaged Vinyl Panel Sections
For vinyl tonneaus with extensive snap damage or deterioration, it may be possible to replace individual vinyl panels. This avoids having to buy a whole new tonneau cover. The vinyl repair kits secure the new vinyl pieces over the troubled areas.
Buy a Higher Quality Tonneau Cover
Low cost vinyl tonneau covers often have weak snaps and materials. Spending a little more upfront for a premium vinyl cover with reinforced panels and robust snaps will help it last longer. Some tonneau brands like BakFlip also have lifetime warranties against defects.
Consider a Different Tonneau Cover Material
If your vinyl tonneau cover snaps keep breaking, switching to an aluminum, fiberglass, or canvas cover could provide a more durable alternative. These materials may withstand opening and closing better over time.
Troubleshooting Snaps That Won’t Close on Vinyl Covers
If your vinyl tonneau’s snaps are intact but won’t close tightly, try these quick fixes:
- Adjust the latching mechanism if possible to put more tension on the snaps
- Clean any dirt or debris out of the snaps so they fasten together securely
- Apply lubricant like WD-40 to the snaps so they slide together more easily
- Tighten or replace any loose or detached snaps
- Close the tailgate to put more downward pressure on the cover before closing the snaps
- Make sure the tonneau cover frame is aligned properly and not bent or warped
- Ensure the vinyl cover is well secured all along the edges and not loosening
- Don’t overload the truck bed, which can warp the cover and prevent snaps from closing
- Add additional closure supports like velcro strips if the existing snaps can’t hold securely
- Keep the vinyl cover clean and conditioned to prevent shrinkage or stiffness that impedes snap closure
- Avoid pulling too hard on the vinyl when trying to get the snaps to close
With proper installation, care, and maintenance, the snaps on your vinyl tonneau cover should provide years of reliable service. Keep an eye out for damaged or worn snaps for early replacement to get the most life from your cover. Follow the tips above to stop frustrating snap breakage or closure failure problems.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vinyl Tonneau Covers
How long should a vinyl tonneau cover last?
With proper care and maintenance, a good quality vinyl tonneau cover should last 5-10 years. The lifespan depends on factors like vinyl thickness, snap quality, and exposure to sun, weather and use.
Why does my vinyl tonneau cover flap at highway speeds?
Vinyl covers can flap and billow at high speeds due to air getting under the cover. Make sure it’s tightly secured. Using velcro strips along the edges can help eliminate wind flap. Adjustable tension cables on roll-up covers can also provide a tighter fit.
What is the best way to clean a vinyl tonneau?
Use a dedicated vinyl protectant, conditioner or cleaner, not household cleaners. Gently wipe with a soft cloth. Rinse with water and allow to fully dry before closing. Avoid using abrasives or harsh chemicals on vinyl tonneaus.
How do I repair small rips or tears in my vinyl cover?
Small vinyl tonneau tears can be patched with an adhesive vinyl repair kit. Clean the area thoroughly before applying the patch. Secure the edges with masking tape until the adhesive cures. Larger rips may need professional vinyl welding.
Can I leave my vinyl tonneau open while driving?
It’s not recommended to drive with a soft vinyl cover open. This can damage the cover from wind whip, especially at highway speeds. Hard tonneaus are secured so they can safely stay open during driving if desired.
Why does my vinyl tonneau leak along the tailgate?
Most leakage comes from gaps or tears in the rear tonneau seal. Inspect the seal for damage or detachment and resecure or replace it. Keeping the seal lubricated can also help prevent leakage.
What temperature range is safe for vinyl tonneaus?
Vinyl covers become prone to damage below freezing and above around 200°F. Avoid opening vinyl covers in very cold conditions. Remove cover or use a tonneau protector once temperatures start regularly falling below 40°F.
Can I keep cargo in the truck bed when folding up my vinyl cover?
It is generally not recommended to fold soft vinyl covers over cargo in the bed. This can overstress the vinyl and cause creasing or tearing. Remove all items from the bed before folding the cover closed.
How can I get my vinyl tonneau cover to close tighter?
Adjusting the latching mechanism can often provide a tighter seal. Cleaning then lubricating the seals can also help the cover close more securely. Adding supplemental velcro closures will take up any gaps between snaps or seals.
Why does my vinyl tonneau cover flap and creek at highway speeds?
This is typically caused by air getting trapped between the cover and bed. Try securing any loose edges or corners. Spraying silicone lubricant on the vinyl and repositioning the bows can also minimize wind flap and noise.
Do I need to remove my vinyl tonneau before a car wash?
Vinyl covers can usually safely go through a touchless automatic car wash. Keep soap spray pressure on the low side. Avoid high pressure undercarriage washers. Manual washing is gentler – use a soft cloth with mild soap and water.
Should I install a bed liner with a vinyl tonneau cover?
You can install a spray-in or drop-in plastic bed liner under a vinyl cover. For optimal fit, install the liner first then put on the cover. The liner protects the bed from damage if the cover rubs. Avoid using a bed mat as it can chafe the vinyl underside.
How do I know if my truck will work with a certain vinyl tonneau cover?
The manufacturer’s product details will specify exactly which truck makes, models, and bed sizes a particular cover is designed to fit. Measure your truck bed length and dimensions to check for compatibility if you cannot find explicit confirmation.
How much does it cost to replace vinyl tonneau cover snaps?
The cost for replacement vinyl tonneau cover snaps can range from $1 – $5 per snap, depending on the type and quality. Factoring in labor costs for installation, expect to pay $150 or more for a full snap replacement job on a typical 6-foot truck bed cover.