So you have a truck. It’s great for hauling things around and getting work done. But should you get a tonneau cover for the bed of your truck? How do you know if you really need one? Here’s a guide to help you decide.
What is a Tonneau Cover?
A tonneau cover is like a lid or cap for the bed of your truck. It covers and protects the inside of the truck bed. Tonneau covers are made from different materials like vinyl, aluminum, or fiberglass. There are different kinds of tonneau covers:
- Hard covers – These are made from hard materials like aluminum or fiberglass. They keep the truck bed sealed off and protected.
- Soft covers – These use soft, foldable materials like vinyl. They roll up or fold to give you access to the bed.
- Retractable covers – These can retract (move back) to give access to the bed. Then they can extend to cover it again.
Why Would You Want a Tonneau Cover?
Here are some of the main reasons people get tonneau covers for their trucks:
Protection from Weather
Tonneau covers protect the inside of your truck bed from rain, snow, sun, and other weather. This keeps your cargo clean and dry.
When your truck bed is covered, people can’t see what’s inside. This helps stop people from stealing your stuff. It gives you more security.
Improved Gas Mileage
Some tonneau covers can improve your gas mileage a little. This is because they make the truck more aerodynamic (smooth shaped) as you drive.
Many people think tonneau covers make trucks look nicer. It gives your truck a cleaner, more finished look.
Factors to Help You Decide If You Need One
Not everyone needs a tonneau cover. Here are some things to think about to decide if getting one would be good for your truck:
How Will You Use Your Truck Bed?
If you use your truck mostly for work, you’ll want a tonneau cover that’s very durable and easy to open/close. But if it’s just for occasional personal use, looks and protection may be more important.
- For work – Get a hard or retractable cover that allows easy access to the bed. Vinyl covers may not hold up as well.
- For personal use – A vinyl cover offers good looks and protection without a big price tag.
What Will You Keep in Your Truck Bed?
If you often carry expensive gear or tools for work, a hard tonneau cover offers the most security. But if it’s usually groceries or camping equipment, a vinyl cover can get the job done.
What Are the Weather Conditions Where You Live?
In rainy or snowy climates, tonneau covers protect your cargo from getting wet and damaged. If you live where it’s mostly sunny and dry, protection from weather may not be as important.
How Big is Your Truck Bed?
- Small/short bed – Easier to find a tonneau cover that fits
- Large/long bed – More limited options, so shop carefully for the right size
- Measure bed size before shopping for optimal fit
Does Improved Gas Mileage Matter?
The boost in mpg from a tonneau cover is modest at best. If fuel efficiency is important to you, look for a lightweight soft cover. But don’t expect a huge impact on mpg.
What is Your Budget for a Tonneau Cover?
- Vinyl covers = $200-$500
- Folding aluminum/fiberglass = $500-$1500
- Retractable cover = $1000+
Set a max budget before shopping to avoid spending more than you planned.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Here are some final questions to ask yourself when deciding if it’s worth getting a tonneau cover:
Do I really need the extra protection and security?
If you already use a good lock on your tailgate and don’t haul expensive cargo, maybe you can skip it.
Would I use the bed more if it was covered?
A cover may make you more likely to use the bed for storage since your cargo will be protected.
Am I willing to give up open bed space?
Covers take away some convenience of an open truck bed. Make sure you’re okay with that.
Is it in my budget right now?
Tonneau covers are very useful, but also an optional accessory. Don’t break your budget to buy one.
Will this improve my truck experience?
Covers add great protection. But make sure it will enhance how you use your truck rather than being an unused add-on.
The Final Decision
So in summary, tonneau covers are great for protecting your cargo, securing your truck bed, and making your truck look better. But they may not be useful or in your budget right now.
Think carefully about when and how you use your truck bed. This will tell you if getting a tonneau cover is the right choice. If you haul a lot of expensive gear or live in rainy weather, it can be very worthwhile. But it’s okay to skip for now if you don’t need the benefits.
Prioritize your specific needs and budget to make the smartest decision. With the right tonneau cover, you’ll take even better care of your hard-working truck!