An In-Depth Look at Using Protectants on Tonneau Covers
Tonneau covers are a great way to protect the truck bed and any cargo inside. However, the tonneau cover itself also needs protection from the elements to maximize its lifespan. Using a protectant spray can help keep a tonneau cover looking good and functioning properly for years. But is it safe and recommended to use these sprays? Let’s explore the ins and outs of using protectant sprays on tonneau covers.
Should You Use Protectant Sprays on Tonneau Covers?
The short answer is yes, it is okay to use protectant sprays on tonneau covers. In fact, it is a good idea to use protectants on soft vinyl and even hard folding fiberglass or aluminum tonneau covers to help preserve them. Protectant sprays create a protective barrier against:
- UV rays from the sun that can cause fading and cracking
- Acid rain and other airborne pollutants that can eat away at the materials
- Dust, dirt, and debris that can scratch or stain the surface
- Dew and frost that can deposit contaminants and encourage mold growth
Periodically applying a high-quality vinyl or plastic protectant spray as part of your tonneau cover maintenance routine will help it look new longer. Be sure to use protectants made specifically for automotive and marine vinyl and plastics. General household cleaners can actually damage tonneau cover materials. More on cleaning products later.
How Often Should You Apply Protectant Sprays?
Most tonneau cover manufacturers recommend applying protectant every 2-3 months. But the frequency depends on your climate and exposure:
- If you live in a sunny, hot climate, apply UV protectant more frequently
- If you drive on coastal roads with ocean spray, treat more often to resist salt damage
- If your area sees a lot of rain, snow and grimy road spray, protect from contamination
Make it part of your regular tonneau cover cleaning regimen. Clean first with vinyl-safe cleaners to remove dirt and grime, then apply protectant sprays as the final step. This locks in the cleaning and creates a shield against future elements.
What Parts of The Tonneau Cover Should You Spray?
Protectant spray can safely be used on all exterior surfaces of soft and hard tonneau covers, including:
- Vinyl tops of soft roll up and folding covers
- Aluminum panels of hard folding covers
- Fiberglass lids of hard folding and retractable covers
- Plastic components like clamps, rails, hinges
- Rubber seals and weather stripping
Avoid using on any fabric components like Velcro or underside carpet lining that can absorb excess moisture. Focus treatments on exterior surfaces that take the most abuse from sun, rain, dirt, and road debris.
What Are The Best Protectant Spray Products for Tonneau Covers?
Look for protectant sprays made specifically for automotive vinyl and plastics. Some good options are:
- Mothers VLR Vinyl Leather Rubber Care
- Meguiar’s Vinyl and Rubber Protectant
- 303 Aerospace Protectant
- Griot’s Garage Vinyl and Rubber Dressing
- Chemical Guys Leather Conditioner and UV Protectant
Stay away from armor all, petroleum jelly, household cleaners or industrial products not designed for tonneau covers. These can actually leave a greasy residue or damage the vinyl over time. Stick with reputable automotive brands that specify use on tonneau cover materials.
How Do You Properly Apply Protectant Sprays?
Here are some tips for safely and effectively using tonneau cover protectants:
- Wash and dry the cover first to remove grime that can prevent adhesion
- Lightly mist or wipe protectant directly onto surfaces, don’t saturate
- Evenly coat all exterior surfaces – top, sides, front, and rear
- Wipe any excess liquid with a clean microfiber cloth to prevent drips
- Allow to fully dry before driving to avoid windshield staining
- Reapply every 2-3 months for continued protection
Taking the time to regularly clean and apply protectant spray helps defend against the elements, pollutants, and grime that your tonneau cover faces daily. Using quality automotive vinyl protectant sprays as part of your maintenance routine is perfectly safe and recommended by manufacturers to make covers look new longer. Just be sure to use appropriate vinyl-safe products and apply lightly for the best results. Keep your tonneau cover protected for enhanced performance, durability and great looks for years down the road.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Protectants on Tonneau Covers
Still have some questions about using protectants on your tonneau cover? Here are answers to some of the most common questions asked.
Can You Use Protectant Spray on Soft Vinyl Tonneau Covers?
Yes, you can and should use vinyl protectant sprays on soft roll up, folding and snap tonneau covers. The vinyl material needs UV protection and conditioning. Just don’t oversaturate the fabric.
Does Protectant Spray Void the Tonneau Cover Warranty?
No, using protectants does not automatically void a tonneau warranty, UNLESS you use harsh chemicals that damage the cover. Always check the manufacturer’s care guidelines and use recommended automotive vinyl products.
How Often Should You Reapply Tonneau Cover Protectant?
Plan to reapply tonneau cover protectant spray every 2-3 months. More often if your cover gets extreme sun exposure or road grime. Reapply after cleaning for maximum results.
What Household Products Can You Use to Protect Tonneau Covers?
Avoid household cleaners as most are too harsh for tonneau cover materials. Stick to specialty vinyl and plastic protectants made for automotive and marine use.
Can Armor All Be Used on Tonneau Covers?
No, Armor All is not recommended for tonneau covers as it can leave a heavy silicone residue that attracts dirt over time. Opt for protectants designed specifically for tonneau cover vinyl and plastics instead.
Can You Treat Both Soft and Hard Tonneau Covers with Protectant?
Yes, you can use UV and conditioning protectants on vinyl soft covers and exterior plastic/fiberglass of hard folding and retractable covers. Just avoid fabric components.
Does Protectant Spray Help Prevent Tonneau Cover Leaks?
Yes! By keeping the vinyl, seals and gaskets flexible, protected and conditioned, leaks are less likely. Cracks develop when materials dry out.
Will Protectant Stop Tonneau Cover Flapping at High Speeds?
It helps! Protectant keeps vinyl supple so it’s less likely to flap and makes seals more pliable to fit snug. Be sure to reseal any loose areas first.
Can You Apply Protectant with a Tonneau Cover on a Leased Truck?
Yes, protectants are fine to use on leased truck tonneau covers. Just avoid damage from harsh chemicals or abrasion that could incur fees when returning the truck.
How to Clean and Care for a Tonneau Cover Before Applying Protectant
Before applying any vinyl or plastic protectant spray, it’s important to properly clean your tonneau cover first. Here are some tips for safe cleaning methods before protectant application:
Use a Vinyl Tonneau Cover Cleaner First
- Choose a specialty vinyl cleaner like Meguiar’s M63 or 303 Autospa Vinyl Cleaner
- This removes dirt, grease and grime so protectant can adhere evenly
Rinse Away Any Loose Debris
- Power wash or rinse with a hose if needed to remove caked-on mud or dirt
- Avoid high pressure streams directly at seals or soft covers
Allow the Cover to Completely Dry
- Let air or pat dry with a towel before applying protectant
- Trapped moisture under protectant could bubble or discolor
Repair Any Cracks or Damage
- Fix tears with vinyl adhesive before treating
- Replace any broken parts that could admit moisture
Once your tonneau cover is cleaned, conditioned and all cracks repaired, you can confidently apply your protectant spray. Taking the time to properly clean and care for your cover will allow the protectant to evenly coat and absorb for maximum protection.
Protecting Your Tonneau Cover While Parked or in Storage
In addition to periodic cleaning and protectant application while in use, take steps to safeguard your tonneau cover when parked long-term or in seasonal storage:
Park in the Shade
- Block UV rays by parking in a garage or under a carport cover
- Consider a sunshade or reflector to avoid interior heat damage
Use a Tonneau Cover
- For stored trucks, cover the cover! A breathable tarp allows airflow
- Prevent buildup of snow, ice and debris across the surface
Support Soft Covers
- Roll up or fold soft covers to relieve stretched vinyl and foam
- Storing flat can lead to sagging corners and warped segments
- Keep hinges moving freely on folding and retractable covers
- Use silicone lube and move the panels regularly
Inspect Seals and Hardware
- Replace dried, cracked or compressed seals
- Tighten any loose clamps before storage
Following protectant spray guidelines combined with proper long-term storage care allows you to get the most performance and longevity out of your tonneau cover investment.
Regularly using quality vinyl and plastic protectant sprays as part of your tonneau cover maintenance regimen is perfectly safe, recommended by manufacturers, and helps maintain the appearance and function of your cover. Just be sure to use automotive-grade vinyl products and apply properly without oversaturating.
Combined with thorough periodic cleaning and proper care during storage, protectant sprays are an easy way to defend against UV rays, pollutants, and contamination that can degrade tonneau covers over time. Follow the usage and care tips provided here and your cover will last for many miles looking and performing like new.