Folding truck bed covers provide many benefits like security, protection from weather, and improved gas mileage. However, these advantages quickly disappear if the folding panels and hinges become damaged. Cracked hinges lead to improper opening and closing, leaking, premature wear, and even safety issues if the cover unexpectedly flies open at highway speeds. That’s why it’s crucial to properly repair cracked hinges to keep your folding cover functioning safely and effectively.
Repairing cracked hinges may seem daunting, but this step-by-step guide will walk you through the process. With some basic tools and replacement parts, you can get those hinges working like new again. We’ll cover removing the cover, detaching the damaged hinges, cleaning, applying adhesive, reattaching, and testing the repair. Follow these instructions and you’ll have your folding cover opening and closing smoothly once more. Let’s get started!
What Are Some Common Causes Of Hinge Damage On Folding Covers?
Before we dive into the repair process, let’s look at why truck bed cover hinges crack in the first place. Knowing the root causes can help prevent future damage. Here are some of the most common reasons folding cover hinges break:
Placing heavy objects on the folding panels that exceed the specified weight capacity can put too much strain on the hinges. Overloading leads to cracked hinging and breaking.
Opening the cover too quickly or aggressively, rather than slow and controlled, stresses the hinges. Slamming or dropping the panels closed also damages the hinges over time.
Exposure To The Elements
Years of exposure to sun, rain, snow, and temperature extremes take a toll on folding cover hinges. The materials degrade, weaken, and eventually crack.
Poor Quality Hinges
Low quality hinge components that don’t feature reinforced metal or thick protective coating are more prone to cracking, peeling, and breaking.
Normal Wear And Tear
After years of regular opening and closing, hinges will naturally weaken and fail with age. No folding cover lasts forever.
In rare cases, the hinges may have flaws right from the factory that lead to premature cracking and failure under normal use.
Now let’s get into the step-by-step repair process to get those damaged hinges back in working order!
Step 1 – Remove The Folding Cover From Your Truck Bed
The first step is to remove the folding cover to provide easier access to the damaged hinges for repair. The exact removal process depends on your specific cover:
For Under-Rail Covers:
- Unscrew the clamps securing the cover underside to the bed rails.
- Slide the cover sideways to detach it from the rails. You may need a buddy to help support it.
For Above-Rail Covers:
- Release the latches on the front, back, and sides of the cover.
- Lift the panels upward off the bed rails and remove.
For Hinged Tonneau Covers:
- Pop open the hinged sections.
- Locate any retaining clips, handles, or screws to fully detach the cover.
- Lift the panels off the bed rails and remove.
Be sure to detach any cargo straps, retention cords, or prop rods as well. Set the cover safely aside on a flat clean surface.
Step 2 – Remove The Damaged Hinge From The Cover
With the cover removed, flip it over to access the underside hinges. Locate the cracked hinge that needs repair. Determine how it attaches:
- Use a socket wrench to unbolt the damaged hinge from the cover frame.
- Set the bolts and hinge aside. You’ll need the bolts to reattach the new hinge.
- Use a drill with a rivet removing bit to detach the bad hinge.
- You’ll need new rivets to reattach the replacement hinge.
Removable Pin Hinges:
- Release the retaining clip and slide out the hinge pin.
- Lift off the damaged hinge and set it aside.
Thoroughly removing all remnants of the broken hinge is crucial for proper adhesion and operation of the new replacement.
Step 3 – Clean The Hinge Area On The Cover
With the damaged hinge fully removed, take time to clean the hinge attachment area on the cover frame. Here are some tips:
- Use a stiff brush or putty knife to scrape off any old adhesive, paint, or debris.
- Wipe the area down with a cleaning solvent like mineral spirits or alcohol.
- Let the area fully dry before continuing.
Proper cleaning allows the new replacement hinge to adhere correctly for long-lasting performance. Avoid applying new adhesive over old residue.
Step 4 – Apply Adhesive To The Hinge And Cover
Now you’re ready to prep the new hinge and cover frame for reattachment. Here’s how to apply adhesive:
- Choose a strong adhesive like epoxy, silicone, or panel adhesive. Avoid super glue.
- Apply a bead or layer of adhesive all along the backside of the new hinge. Spread evenly to coat.
- Also apply adhesive to the hinge attachment area on the cover.
- Let the adhesive sit for a few minutes until slightly tacky.
Applying adhesive to both joining surfaces ensures maximum bonding strength and resistance to vibration. Follow the product instructions for cure time.
Step 5 – Reattach The New Hinge To The Cover
Once the adhesive is prepped, carefully align and attach the replacement hinge:
- Line up the hinge exactly where the old one was mounted.
- Press the hinge firmly into the adhesive and hold for 30-60 seconds.
- Reinstall any bolts, rivets, or hinge pins to securely fasten.
- Add extra adhesive if any gaps are visible.
Take care to position the hinge correctly so the cover panels move smoothly. Check that no adhesive squeezed out along the hinge edge.
Step 6 – Allow Adhesive To Fully Cure
Now comes the hardest part – waiting for the adhesive to fully cure!
- Most adhesives take 6-12 hours to reach maximum strength.
- Keep the cover in a warm area without disturbing the hinge.
- Weight or lightly clamp the hinge to help bonding while curing.
- Avoid opening the cover panels or stressing the hinges until fully cured.
Have patience allowing the adhesive to cure, or else the hinge may fail prematurely when you reinstall and use the cover.
Step 7 – Reinstall The Cover On Your Truck
Once the replacement hinge has cured, you can reinstall the folding cover on your truck bed:
- For under-rail covers, slide the cover back into the bed rails and tighten the clamping screws.
- For above-rail covers, position the cover over the bed and close the retention latches.
- For hinged tonneaus, realign the panels, engage any clips or pins, and close the tailgate.
- Reattach any prop rods, straps, or cords. Make sure the cover is fully secured.
- Carefully open and close the cover, checking for smooth operation.
Finally, your truck is ready to hit the road again with a functioning folding cover!
Step 8 – Test The Repaired Hinge And Enjoy Your Cover!
The last step is to test out the repaired hinge:
- Open and close the cover slowly several times. Check for smooth movement.
- Open the panel fully and press down firmly to ensure solid attachment.
- Check the adhesive bond line for any gaps or signs of new cracking.
- Give the hinge a couple sharp slams closed to verify durability.
If the repaired hinge passes testing without issues, you’re all set! Enjoy the renewed benefits of your folding truck bed cover. No more leaks or flying open panels on the highway. Just take care not to overload the cover or abuse the hinges, and your repair job should last for years. Share your hinge repair success with fellow truck owners!
Alternative Hinge Repair Options:
- If the cover is under warranty, contact the manufacturer about replacement hinge options before attempting repair.
- For some folding covers, replacement hinge kits are available for purchase and simplify the repair.
- On rare covers, the entire panel with hinges may need replacement if not individually serviceable.
FAQs: Troubleshooting Folding Cover Hinge Repairs
What if the new hinge still cracks quickly after repairing?
- Ensure you are using a high quality hinge made from durable materials. Avoid cheap thin pot metal hinges prone to cracking.
- Make sure to properly clean the adhesion areas before reattaching. Any debris or oil will compromise the bond.
- Adhesive choice can also be a factor. Use epoxy or panel adhesive instead of super glue which is brittle.
- Clamping force and cure time also impact adhesive strength. Insufficient pressure or curing can reduce longevity.
Why does my folding cover make noise after hinge replacement?
- Lubricate hinge knuckle pivot points with silicone spray or lithium grease to eliminate squeaking.
- Make sure panel alignment is correct. Bent or misaligned panels can bind and make noise.
- Inspect hinge hardware. Loose rivets or bolts will cause rattling over bumps.
- Adjust strike pads if needed to prevent banging that causes noises when closing.
Can I reinforce folding hinges when installing new covers?
Yes, some great tips for reinforcing new folding cover hinges:
- Use adhesive seam sealer on the backside of hinges before installing cover. This helps protect from moisture intrusion.
- Consider applying rubberized undercoating or bedliner material to the hinge. This adds an extra durable protective coating.
- Place small strips of self-adhesive weatherseal material along the hinge knuckles to limit water exposure.
- Maintain proper tension on hinge hardware. Overtightening can damage hinge components.
Following these steps when installing a new folding cover will help prevent premature cracking and extend the hinge lifespan.
What maintenance should be done to prevent hinge damage?
Routine maintenance goes a long way towards preventing hinge cracking and breakdown:
- Lubricate the hinge pivot points every 6 months with silicone spray. Keeping them moving freely reduces wear.
- Inspect hinges regularly for cracks or corrosion, especially if exposed to road salts in winter. Address any issues promptly.
- Keep the cover free of accumulated dirt and debris which holds moisture and accelerates decay.
- Limit unnecessary opening of the cover panels during storage or hauling. Constant motion strains the hinges.
- Operate the cover smoothly and avoid slamming. Slam damage adds up over time.
Following basic maintenance procedures will add years of life to your folding cover hinges. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Conclusion: Get More Years From Your Folding Cover With Proper Hinge Repairs
Damaged hinges on folding truck bed covers can compromise the performance and lead to bigger headaches down the road. But armed with this comprehensive repair guide, you have the knowledge to get those cracked hinges back in working order again.
Taking the time to properly remove, clean, reinforce, and reinstall the hinges will pay dividends through added years of effective use from your cover. Your truck will be secured, weather protected, and ready to hit the miles once more. Share these folding cover hinge repair tips with other pickup owners and help keep their beds covered!