A tonneau cover is a useful truck bed accessory that provides protection, security, and improved gas mileage. However, many truck owners find that their tonneau cover makes irritating noises while driving – anything from rattling and flapping to loud whistling. This unwelcome noise can make your drive noisy and unpleasant.
Fortunately, in most cases, there are some easy fixes to quiet a noisy tonneau cover and restore peace and quiet to your drive. This article will explore the common causes of a loud tonneau cover and provide troubleshooting tips to stop the noise.
Why Does My Tonneau Cover Make So Much Noise?
There are several potential reasons why your tonneau cover may make excessive noise while driving:
The most common cause of a noisy tonneau is simply a poor fit on the truck bed. Tonneau covers are designed to fit snugly and seamlessly across the bed. If the cover doesn’t fit tightly and has gaps, it can vibrate, rattle around, and make noise, especially at higher speeds.
Troubleshooting: First, check that the cover is installed correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure the clamps are tightened properly so the cover cannot shift. Adjust the tension if needed and ensure the cover sits flush with no gaps. Adding weatherstripping can help seal small gaps.
Loose or Damaged Parts
With repeated opening and closing, parts of the tonneau cover can come loose or get damaged. Hinges, clamps, snaps, or sliding rails that are loose, broken, or worn out can all cause banging, clicking, or rattling while driving.
Troubleshooting: Carefully inspect your tonneau cover and identify any loose or broken components. Tighten loose clamps and screws. Replace any damaged or missing hardware. Lubricate sliding rails. This should eliminate any noises from loose parts.
Soft roll-up or folding covers made of vinyl material can flap around loudly in the wind while driving, especially if the material is worn or sagging. The noise is especially bad with the tailgate open.
Troubleshooting: Make sure your soft tonneau is pulled taut with no sagging areas that can catch the wind. Try closing the tailgate to prevent wind force on the cover. If the cover is old, consider replacing it with a new tight cover or upgrading to a hard folding cover.
Even brand new soft vinyl tonneau covers can make some wind noise as air flows over them. The wind causes the material to flutter slightly in the breeze, making a flapping sound. Hard covers can also whistle loudly if gaps allow the wind to get underneath.
Troubleshooting: Make sure all snaps, drawstrings, and clamps are tightened down to minimize wind flutter. Try adding a wind deflector to redirect air over the cab instead of under the tonneau. Apply adhesive foam weatherstripping to seal small gaps in hard covers.
Contact with Cab or Tailgate
If the tonneau cover sits too close to the cab or tailgate, it can vibrate against these surfaces while driving, creating a rattling or buzzing noise. This is especially common with roll-up covers.
Troubleshooting: Adjust the cover to allow a 1/2″ gap from the cab and tailgate to avoid contact. Check that crossbows, rails or slats are correctly positioned. Apply padding tape to act as a cushion.
How to Troubleshoot Noise From Your Tonneau Cover
Pinpointing what exactly is causing noise from your tonneau will help you find the best remedy. Here is a systematic approach:
1. Note When the Noise Happens
Pay attention to when the noise occurs:
- At low speeds or high speeds?
- Only when hitting bumps?
- With the tailgate up or down?
- Certain driving conditions like windy days?
This can give clues if it’s wind noise, loose parts, poor fit, etc.
2. Locate the Source
Have a helper stand outside the truck and listen while you drive slowly. See if they can pinpoint the location – left side, middle, near the cab, etc. Check those spots for issues.
3. Inspect Entire Cover
Do a thorough inspection of every part of the cover:
- Check for loose clamps, rails, hinges. Tighten if needed.
- Look for gaps, sagging fabric, or tears.
- See if parts are broken, cracked, or warped.
- Ensure nothing is rubbing or vibrating against the truck bed.
4. Test Drive Again
After fixing any issues found, do a test drive. See if the noise improved or if you need to troubleshoot further.
5. Consider Weather Conditions
Wind, rain, and different temperatures can affect tonneau noise. If the noise seems worse in certain conditions, that points to a source like wind flap.
6. Compare With Tailgate Up/Down
Driving with the tailgate in both the up and down position can help isolate the noise. If it’s only loud with the tailgate down, it’s likely wind related.
7. Remove The Cover
If needed, remove the entire cover and do a test drive with just the bare truck bed. If the noise goes away, you know for certain the tonneau is the culprit.
Thorough troubleshooting should help reveal the source and solution to your noisy cover.
6 DIY Fixes to Stop Tonneau Cover Noise
Before shelling out money for a repair shop or new cover, try these handy DIY fixes for a noisy tonneau:
1. Adjust Clamps and Snaps
Make sure all hardware is tightened securely. This takes just a few minutes and can fix rattles from loose components.
2. Add Foam Tape
Adhesive foam tape applied to contact points cushions vibration and prevents rattling. Use it between the cover and rail, snaps, bed sides, tailgate, etc.
3. Adjust Striker Plates
If the cover slats are banging around, slightly bend the striker plates to tighten the fit. This stops excess movement.
4. Add Wind Deflector
A simple wind deflector on the cab redirects air flow over the cover. This solves wind noise and flapping.
5. Clean and Lubricate
For roll-up covers, clean out dirt from the rails. Use silicone spray to lubricate the rolling mechanism. This prevents vibrations.
6. Tighten Fabric
For soft covers, tighten any loose fabric by adjusting snaps, retightening drawstrings, or installing hold downs.
When to Consider a New Tonneau Cover
If your current cover is very old or damaged, DIY fixes may not solve the noise issues. Below are signs it’s time to upgrade to a new tonneau:
- Fabric is badly ripped, sagging, or faded
- Frame is bent, cracked, or broken
- Clamps are broken or won’t tighten adequately
- Wind noise and flapping persist despite adjustments
- Rattles worsen over time as parts wear out
Installing a new cover can provide a perfect noise-free fit and restore your peace and quiet.
Choosing a Quiet Tonneau Cover
If you need a cover replacement, select a model designed to minimize noise:
Fiberglass, aluminum, and solid polymer covers are the quietest options. Their rigid, sturdy construction prevents flapping and whistling.
Look for thick, layered vinyl material with strong reinforced frames to reduce wind noise. Getting a tight fit is key.
- Flimsy fabric that can sag
- Flimsy plastic or fiberglass
- Poor seams that leak air
Also avoid cheap covers that don’t fit properly and have loose parts. Check reviews to identify the most noise-free covers.
Professional Tonneau Cover Noise Reduction
For tricky noise issues, a professional installer can:
- shim and adjust the cover to perfection
- add sound dampening materials
- seal gaps thoroughly
- replace hardware and parts
This is worth considering for expensive covers if DIY efforts fail. Ask your dealer for recommendations.
Maintain Your Tonneau Cover to Prevent Future Noise
Like any truck accessory, proper maintenance goes a long way in preventing problems like annoying noises down the road:
- Inspect cover seal, hardware, and components regularly
- Tighten any loose clamps, snaps, hinges, etc.
- Lubricate sliding parts
- Keep cover fabric clean and taut
- Replace worn parts immediately, don’t wait for failure
- Adjust cover fit if needed after hauling heavy loads
Take care of your cover and you’ll keep it noise-free for years. With some attention and TLC, your tonneau cover will provide protection and enhance the looks of your truck bed without driving you crazy.