Do you have a hard folding tonneau cover on your truck? These rigid covers provide great protection for your truck bed and cargo. But over time, the hinges and latches can begin to stick and squeak. A little bit of lubricant goes a long way in keeping your tonneau cover operating smoothly.
In this article, we’ll look at:
- Why lubricating your tonneau cover is important
- What type of lubricant to use
- How to clean and lubricate the hinges
- Tips for maintaining smooth operation
Follow these steps and your hard tonneau will open and close with ease for years to come. Let’s get started!
Why Should I Lubricate My Tonneau Cover Hinges?
Hard folding tonneau covers have hinges along the front, sides, and back that allow it to fold up toward the cab. These hinges enable easy access to your truck bed whenever you need it.
But over time, dirt, dust, and natural wear can cause the hinges to bind or squeak. This makes opening and closing the cover more difficult.
Regular lubrication keeps the hinges operating smoothly in a few key ways:
- Reduces friction: Lubricant coats the metal surfaces of the hinge joints, preventing metal-on-metal grinding. This reduces friction as the hinges pivot.
- Protects against rust: Lubricant seals out moisture that could cause rust and corrosion on the hinges over time.
- Cleans out debris: Applying lubricant flushes out any built-up dirt, dust or grit in the joints.
- Quiets squeaks: It stops any squeaking or grinding noises caused by dry, tight hinges.
So keep your hands clean and your truck bed covered! Just a little routine maintenance goes a long way.
What Type of Lubricant Should I Use on Tonneau Cover Hinges?
You’ll want to use a lubricant designed specifically for metal hinges. Avoid greases or oils that can attract dirt and debris.
Here are 3 good options:
- Pros: Silicone-based spray or gel lubricants work extremely well for tonneau cover hinges. Silicone repels water and provides long-lasting lubrication. It can withstand a wide temperature range without gumming up.
- Cons: It can be a bit messy to apply compared to a spray. It may need reapplied more often than other lubricants.
- Pros: Spray lubricants are easy to apply accurately to the hinge joints. They dry with little to no residue to attract dirt. Many spray lubes are multi-purpose and can be used on other hinges around your vehicle.
- Cons: Avoid thinner spray lubes as they may drip off and not last as long. Be sure to get complete coverage over all the hinge surfaces.
White Lithium Grease
- Pros: An all-purpose grease perfect for tonneau hinges. It won’t wash away easily if exposed to water. White lithium grease provides long lasting lubrication for all types of metal mechanisms.
- Cons: It can collect dust and dirt if too much is applied. Lithium grease is thicker than spray lubricants and requires working into the joints by opening and closing the cover.
Any of these lubricants are good options for tonneau cover hinges. Pick the one that fits your preferences and budget. Now let’s look at how to apply it.
Step-By-Step: Cleaning and Lubing Your Tonneau Hinges
Lubricating the hinges takes just a few minutes. Here is the basic process:
Step 1: Lower The Tonneau Cover
Start with the cover in the closed position secured to the bed. Release the latches and carefully lower it.
You’ll have easier access to lubricate the hinges with the cover folded down.
Step 2: Clean The Hinges
Before applying lubricant, you want to clean off any existing dirt or grime. This prevents contaminants from getting worked into the joints.
Use a mild soap and warm water. An old toothbrush or rag works well to scrub the hinges. Rinse away any soap residue and let the hinges dry completely.
Step 3: Apply The Lubricant
Now you’re ready to apply your chosen lubricant:
- Spray lubricants – Simply spray a light coating onto each hinge joint.
- Silicone lubricant – Wipe a thin coating onto the hinges using a clean rag or brush.
- White lithium grease – Use a small flathead screwdriver to scoop up a bit of grease. Spread just a tiny amount onto each hinge.
Focus the lubricant on the hinge knuckles where metal rubs on metal. But also hit the pins and any washers.
Step 4: Work The Lubricant In
Here’s where you put those squeaky hinges through their paces!
Open and close the tonneau cover 10-15 times once lubricated. This thoroughly coats all surfaces and spreads the lubricant into the joints.
If needed, add another light coat of lubricant and repeat the process.
Step 5: Remove Any Excess Lubricant
Finally, wipe away any visible globs of excess lubricant with a clean rag.
You just want a thin coating on the working surfaces. Too much lube can attract dirt and dust over time.
That’s all it takes! Now go ahead and practice lowering and raising that tonneau cover to enjoy that smooth motion.
Tips For Keeping Your Hinges In Top Shape
Here are a few extra pointers for maintaining flawless hinge function:
- Lubricate twice per year – Hit the hinges before winter and summer to prevent weather damage and dryness.
- Check for wear – Inspect hinges for excessive looseness or damage. Repair or replace as needed.
- Clean the cover – Periodically wash your cover to prevent dirt buildup around the edges and hinges.
- Park in shade – Try to avoid prolonged sun exposure which can dry out hinges and cause fading.
- Readjust if needed – Over time, hinges can slip out of alignment. Adjustments can restore smooth folding.
With occasional TLC for those tonneau hinges, you’ll keep your cover opening and closing like new. No more wrestling against stubborn, squeaky hardware!
Now let’s recap the key points:
In Summary: A Simple Guide For Lubricating Tonneau Hinges
Lubricating the hinges on your hard folding truck bed tonneau cover keeps the joints moving freely and quietly. Just follow these steps:
- Clean dirt off hinges with mild soap and water
- Choose a lubricant like silicone spray, white lithium grease or a specialty hinge lube
- Apply a thin coat of lubricant to the hinge knuckles, pins and washers
- Open and close the cover 10-15 times to spread the lubricant evenly
- Wipe away any excess lube
- Lubricate the hinges twice yearly for continued smooth operation
That’s all it takes to keep your tonneau cover opening and closing with ease. Regular lubrication prevents squeaking hinges, rust, and sticking.
Your cover protects your truck bed from the elements. Take a few minutes twice a year to keep it working properly with a fresh coat of lubricant.