A vinyl tonneau cover can be a great way to protect your truck bed and cargo from the elements. However, these soft covers can billow and flap at highway speeds, causing loud, annoying noise. If your vinyl tonneau is popping open, rattling, or letting in driving noise, don’t despair. With some simple adjustments and proper care, you can minimize wind noise and stop your cover from blowing open on the freeway.
Why Does My Vinyl Tonneau Cover Flap So Loudly In The Wind?
Vinyl tonneau covers are designed to roll or fold up for easy truck bed access. This flexibility comes at a cost – the material can move around at speed. Factors like loose fasteners, poor alignment, and a bad fit will make your cover prone to flapping noisily. Even tight, well-fitted soft covers will make some noise, as vinyl naturally billows when air passes over it. But there are things you can do to reduce noisy vinyl flapping to more acceptable levels.
How Should I Install A Vinyl Tonneau Cover To Prevent Wind Noise?
Proper installation is crucial for minimizing wind noise from vinyl tonneau covers. Follow all the instructions precisely, and take time to align the cover so it sits flat with no gaps. Here are some key installation tips:
- Clean the truck bed area thoroughly before fitting the rails or frame. Remove all debris that could prevent proper seating. Some covers come with special cleaning wipes – use them to clean the contact area and rails.
- Clamp the rails tightly in place using the provided clamps/brackets. Don’t rely on friction alone – securely fix the rails so they can’t move.
- Adjust the rail positions so the vinyl cover sits centered and pulls tight across the bed. No sagging or loose areas.
- Attach the cover to the rails properly at the specified points. The vinyl must fit snugly into the rail with no room for flapping.
- Use all provided fasteners like snaps, buckles, and tension adjusters to remove any slack in the material.
What Maintenance Can Reduce Wind Noise From My Vinyl Tonneau?
Proper vinyl tonneau cover maintenance is essential to prevent flapping in the wind. Here are some key maintenance tips:
- Periodically check all fasteners – snaps, straps, cords – and tighten or replace any that are worn or loose. Loose fasteners mean a loose cover.
- Clean the vinyl material regularly, using the provided cleaner, or soap and water. This prevents dust and dirt buildup that can prevent proper sealing.
- Check for gaps or tearing along the edges and use adhesive sealant to close any vulnerable points. Cover rips must be patched immediately.
- Lubricate the rear seal and any hinges/pivot points to prevent sticking and uneven opening/closing.
- Re-tension adjustable straps to remove any slack in the cover over time.
- Avoid overloading the bed as weight can stress the cover and cause loosening or distortion.
How Should I Drive With A Vinyl Tonneau To Reduce Wind Noise?
Your driving style and habits can also minimize wind noise from your vinyl tonneau cover:
- Use tie-downs inside the truck bed to secure cargo from sliding and bumping the cover.
- Open the tailgate when hauling large/tall cargo. Airflow over the gate helps stabilize the cover.
- Slow down! Excessive highway speed drastically increases wind noise. Try keeping under 70mph.
- Angle the cab window vents to redirect air over the bed instead of blowing directly onto the tonneau cover.
- If noise is severe, pull over and refasten any loose snaps or straps on the cover.
- Avoid sharp braking that shifts loads forward suddenly. This can strain and loosen the cover.
When Should I Replace My Noisy Vinyl Tonneau Cover?
If your cover is properly installed, cared for, and driven with care – but still flaps loudly at speed – it may be time for a replacement cover. Consider replacing noisy vinyl covers if:
- The vinyl is visibly cracked, brittle, or very worn.
- Fastener holes are badly torn or enlarged.
- The frame/rails are bent from an impact or warped.
- Excessive repairs and adjustments no longer help.
- A newer model cover has better aerodynamic features to reduce noise.
What Alternative Tonneau Covers Are Less Noisy Than Vinyl?
If you’ve reached your limit with noisy vinyl, consider switching to an alternative truck bed cover:
- Retractable hard covers roll up into a canister when opened. The thick panels rarely flap, even at high speeds.
- Folding hard covers don’t flap easily and have good seals to block wind noise. Just avoid cheap thin materials.
- Spray-on bedliners applied over the entire bed and tailgate provide a seamless cover that won’t flap. DIY application is hard.
- Rigid fiberglass tonneaus offer the ultimate in noise reduction. But the panels are heavy and awkward to remove.
Any hard truck bed cover will be quieter than vinyl tonneaus when driving. But weigh up the increased weight and opening/closing effort before switching away from the convenience of soft covers.
Can I Install Snug Straps to Stop My Vinyl Tonneau Flapping?
If your existing cover is still in decent shape, you can try adding DIY snug straps to tighten it up:
- Use vinyl repair adhesive to attach small loops of webbing in strategic spots.
- Run straps through the loops and secure to strong points on the frame/rails.
- Position straps across gap-prone areas like the tailgate join.
- Tighten and adjust the straps to provide a snug fit without over-tensioning the cover.
- Check and re-tighten the new straps periodically as they can loosen over time.
This quick truck bed cover hack may help reduce flapping and noise until you’re ready to invest in a replacement tonneau. But don’t expect miracles – a worn-out cover may be beyond help with straps alone.
Annoying wind noise from a flapping vinyl tonneau cover can make driving unpleasant. But in most cases, you can minimize the noise through proper installation, maintenance, driving habits, and DIY fixes. Just don’t expect a completely silent soft cover. If noise remains excessive after trying everything, replacing the cover may be your quietest option. So inspect your vinyl tonneau and follow the tips outlined here to stop the flapping and enjoy a more peaceful, protective ride.