A tonneau cover is a protective cover that goes over the cargo bed of a pickup truck. It covers and secures the empty space in the truck bed. Tonneau covers come in different styles like foldable, retractable, snap, and roll-up.
Why do people use tonneau covers?
People use tonneau covers for a few reasons:
- To keep cargo protected from weather like rain or snow
- To keep cargo secure and prevent theft
- To improve the truck’s gas mileage by making it more aerodynamic
- To make the truck look nicer with a smooth, finished look
Can you fold a tonneau cover closed with cargo inside?
Yes, you can fold many tonneau covers closed with cargo still inside the truck bed. This is especially true for soft foldable covers. The flexible material allows the cover to fold over items in the bed.
Hard covers may be tougher to fold with cargo inside. But some retractable and hinged models can fold over small loads. Always check the instructions to see if a tonneau is designed to fold with cargo inside.
How do foldable tonneau covers work?
Foldable vinyl tonneau covers have panels that fold accordion-style. The panels fold into each other so the whole cover retracts toward the cab.
Foldable covers latch open for full bed access. When closed, the panels secure the cargo underneath. Many can fold closed over small loads.
What are the benefits of a foldable tonneau cover?
Foldable tonneau covers have benefits like:
- Lower cost than other cover styles
- Fold away for full bed access
- Usually can fold closed with cargo inside
- Fairly easy self-installation
- Softer material won’t scratch cargo
What are some potential downsides?
Potential downsides of foldable covers include:
- Less durable than hard covers
- May flap at high speeds
- Not as weatherproof as solid covers
- Can’t hold very heavy loads when folded
How much cargo can you fold a tonneau over?
The amount of cargo you can fold a tonneau over depends on the cover’s design. Soft foldable covers can fold over small to medium loads. Just make sure cargo doesn’t exceed the cover’s weight rating.
Propping tall objects at an angle can help fold the cover. But very tall, awkward items are best transported with the cover fully open.
Does folding a tonneau cover with cargo damage it?
Folding a soft vinyl tonneau cover over cargo generally won’t damage it. The flexible material is designed to fold. Just avoid sharp objects that could cut or puncture the vinyl.
Make sure to open the cover fully when loading to avoid excessive strain. Don’t overstuff the bed. Follow weight limits to prevent sagging and damage over time.
Can you drive with a folded tonneau and cargo?
You can drive short distances with a folded tonneau cover and cargo in the truck bed. But this should only be done with light loads. The cover is not intended to secure heavy cargo while driving.
Driving long distances folded is not recommended. The flapping cover and shifting load can damage the tonneau. Always open the cover fully when highway driving.
Is it safe to fold a tonneau cover over people?
No, you should never fold a tonneau cover closed with people inside the truck bed. A folded cover is not designed to support human weight or protect passengers. Riding in a pickup bed is very dangerous and usually illegal.
What about folding with pets in the truck bed?
Folding a soft vinyl tonneau cover closed with pets inside is generally not recommended. The cover could frighten or injure an animal when folded. It’s best to transport pets safely inside the cab or in secured pet carriers.
How can you use a folded tonneau cover?
Folded tonneau covers allow you to transport some types of cargo, like:
- Small furniture or appliances
- Gardening supplies or potted plants
- Camping gear or coolers
- Sports equipment
Just avoid heavy, pointy, or tall cargo that could overstress or puncture the cover.
What tonneau cover brands fold with cargo?
Many brands like Truxedo, BakFlip, and Extang have soft foldable tonneau models able to fold with cargo. But always check your specific cover’s features and weight rating.
Hard folding covers by brands like Retrax can also fold over light loads. Make sure to follow any cargo guidelines.
How can you secure cargo under a folded tonneau?
Use tie-downs or a truck bed cargo net to secure lighter items under a folded cover. This prevents load shifting while driving.
For heavier items, open the cover fully and use ratchet straps attached to the truck bed. Never overload or improperly secure cargo.
Can folding damage the truck bed?
No, folding a tonneau cover properly will not damage the pickup truck bed. Soft covers don’t put pressure on the bed when folded. Make sure to open it fully when loading heavy cargo.
Improper use, like overloading cargo, could eventually damage the bed. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Does a folded tonneau affect rear visibility?
Yes, folding a tonneau cover closed will block some rear visibility. The folded panels can obscure the view out the back window.
This is why driving long distances with a folded cover is not recommended. Make sure you have full visibility before backing up or merging.
Is it hard to install a folding tonneau cover?
Folding vinyl tonneau covers are designed for relatively easy DIY installation. Most brands include detailed instructions with the necessary hardware.
You can typically install a folding cover in 1-2 hours using basic tools. No drilling is required, just clamps or rails that attach to the bed sides.
When should you fold vs. open a tonneau cover?
- Fold the cover closed when: Transporting light cargo, securing the bed, or improving gas mileage.
- Open the cover when: Loading/unloading bulky items, driving long distances, or hauling heavy cargo.
Only fold a soft tonneau cover over appropriate cargo. Use common sense along with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Folding tonneau covers are useful for securing light loads, accessing part of the bed, and improving gas mileage. Most can fold closed over small cargo. But be sure to follow weight limits and open fully when hauling larger, heavy items. Use caution when driving with folded covers. With responsible use, folding a tonneau with cargo inside is safe for many truck owners.