If you have a tonneau cover on your pickup truck, you know how important it is to keep it in good working order. The roller tube is a key component that allows the tonneau cover to roll up and retract.
Over time, these tubes can wear out or get damaged. When this happens, you’ll need to replace the roller tube to get your tonneau cover functioning properly again.
But where can you buy replacement roller tubes? In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the various options for purchasing replacement roller tubes for tonneau covers.
Understanding Tonneau Covers and Roller Tubes
First, let’s review what exactly tonneau covers and roller tubes are. A tonneau cover is a retractable or foldable cover that goes over the truck bed. It helps protect cargo from weather and theft. There are different types of tonneau covers including:
- Retractable (roll-up)
- Snap or tri-fold
The retractable tonneau covers use a heavy-duty vinyl or aluminum cover that rolls up on a roller tube. This allows you to open or close the truck bed cover conveniently. The roller tube is the round tube that the cover material wraps around as it retracts.
Roller tubes are typically made of aluminum or heavy-duty plastic. They consist of the main tube and end caps on both sides. Ball bearings allow the tube to roll up smoothly as the cover is opened and closed. Over time, these tubes can bend, break, crack, or fail to roll properly, requiring a replacement.
OEM Tonneau Cover Brands for Replacements
If you need a new roller tube, the best option is to get one specifically designed for your tonneau cover brand and model. Here are some of the major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that sell replacement parts:
- Products: BakFlip G2, F1, FiberMax, MX4, G2 Matte, and more
- Roller tube replacements available directly from the manufacturer
- Use the serial number to find the correct replacement part
- Makes the BedRug Soft Roll-up cover
- Sells the roller tube assembly directly through their website
- Use the serial number lookup tool to get the right part
- Makes the Solid Fold, FullTilt, Encore, and Express tonneaus
- Many roller tube replacement parts available on their website
- Use the product fit guide to select the right replacement
- Manufactures the JackRabbit, Switchblade, and Bedlocker retractable tonneaus
- Order direct replacement canister assemblies, drain tubes, bearings, etc.
- Specializes in hard aluminum retractable covers
- Sells roller tube replacement kits on their website
- Use product selection tool to choose the correct kit
- Makes the retractable Roll-N-Lock bed cover
- Replacement roller tubes available directly from manufacturer
- Use serial number lookup to get the right roller tube
- Manufactures the UnderCover Flex retractable tonneau
- Sells replacement parts including aluminum roller tubes
- Use product selector to choose the correct replacement tube
- Makes soft roll-up truck bed covers
- Replacement roller tubes available on their parts website
- Use vehicle search tool to get the right roller tube
As you can see, going directly through the tonneau cover manufacturer is the best way to get an exact replacement roller tube. They will have the part that is guaranteed to fit your particular model.
Getting Roller Tubes from Auto Parts Stores
Another option is to purchase a replacement roller tube from your local auto parts store or retailer. Stores like AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts stock common tonneau cover replacement parts and hardware. You can also check at RV and trailer supply stores.
However, the selection may be limited for less common tonneau cover brands and models. Be sure to know the measurements of your original roller tube and any special mounting requirements before shopping at a retail store. It’s a good idea to take your old roller tube with you for comparison.
Major national retailers where you can check for tonneau replacement parts include:
- O’Reilly Auto Parts
- Advance Auto Parts
- Pep Boys
- NAPA Auto Parts
- Camping World
- Home Depot
The benefit of using local parts stores is you can get the parts right away for same-day repair. Just be cautious about fit and compatibility.
Buying Roller Tubes Online
Purchasing tonneau cover roller tubes online is another convenient option. There are many online retailers that sell replacement parts:
- Extensive selection of tonneau cover parts
- Uses product search and vehicle selector tools to find parts
- Offers roller tubes, rails, brackets, bearings, etc.
- Prime shipping available on most items
- Good source for new and used factory OEM tonneau parts
- Allows bidding on auctions for potentially lower prices
- Pay attention to seller feedback and ratings
- Specializes in tonneau cover replacement parts
- Carries roller tubes for Roll-N-Lock, UnderCover, Retrax, BakFlip, and others
- Use product filters to find parts for your specific cover
- Truck accessories and performance retailer
- Sells replacement parts for popular tonneau cover brands
- Has an extensive selection of roller tubes
- Large online auto parts and accessories retailer
- Tonneau cover parts section with replacement roller tubes
- Useful fitment guides to match parts for your truck
The advantage of purchasing roller tubes online is you can easily compare prices and often find free shipping offers. Make sure to verify that any third-party replacement parts are correct for your cover before ordering. Referencing your owner’s manual or contacting the manufacturer can help if you are unsure.
What to Look for When Buying Replacement Roller Tubes
No matter where you purchase a replacement roller tube, you’ll want to make sure you get the right part. Here are some tips for selecting the correct replacement:
- Match the length of the original roller tube
- Confirm the diameter is the same
- Review required mounting brackets or end caps
- Make sure the material (steel, aluminum, plastic) is identical
- Look for the same bearings or bushings
- Verify any special coatings or treatments
- Check the positioning and quantity of drain holes
Having the old roller tube to reference helps identify these replacement criteria. Things like the length, diameter, and material are especially important for proper fit and function. Rushing into buying the first cheap replacement tube you see can result in disappointment if it ends up not working.
Some tonneau covers may require special tools or procedures to install a new roller tube. Consult your owner’s manual or the manufacturer to see if any unique steps are needed. Otherwise, you can typically swap in the new roller tube using basic hand tools.
Installing a New Roller Tube
Once you have the correct replacement roller tube, it’s just a matter of removing the old one and installing the new one. Here is an overview of the general installation process:
- Fully retract the tonneau cover to access the roller tube
- Remove the end caps from the existing roller tube
- Take out the old tube and clean the cover housing
- Apply lubricant to the new tube and bearings/bushings
- Carefully insert the replacement tube into the canister
- Attach the new end caps tightly on both ends
- Test the operation of the cover several times
- Adjust the tube position or tension if needed
Be careful not to damage the vinyl cover material as you work on the roller tube replacement. Having a helper can make installation easier. Don’t be afraid to contact a truck service shop if you run into any issues getting the new roller tube installed properly.
Maintaining and Extending Roller Tube Life
To maximize the lifespan of your new roller tube, keep these maintenance tips in mind:
- Inspect the cover and hardware periodically
- Address minor issues before they become major
- Clean the canister housing and drain tubes
- Lubricate bearings and bushings as needed
- Keep the cover material clean and protected
- Limit exposure to harsh weather when possible
- Park in the shade to reduce UV damage
- Don’t force the cover if operation is stiff
With proper care and maintenance, your replacement roller tube should provide years of reliable service. Be diligent about regular inspections and cleaning to prevent premature wear.
Know When It’s Time for Roller Tube Replacement
Waiting too long to replace a worn roller tube can lead to worse damage. Watch for these signs that indicate it’s time for a new roller assembly:
- The cover is sagging and won’t retract fully
- Dents, cracks, or bends in the tube surface
- Seized, frozen, or grinding bearings
- Cover binds, jams, or won’t unroll smoothly
- Significant play, wobble, or vibration in the tube
Addressing these roller tube issues right away by installing a replacement can restore normal operation. Continuing to use a compromised roller tube will likely worsen any problems.
Questions to Ask Before Ordering a New Roller Tube
Before selecting and purchasing a replacement roller tube for your tonneau cover, asking yourself these important questions can help guide you:
- What is the exact year, make, and model of my truck?
- What is the brand and model of my current tonneau cover?
- What length and diameter is my original roller tube?
- What specific end caps or brackets are used?
- Does the tube have any coatings or special features?
- Where are the manufacturer part numbers stamped?
- Is there an instructional video I can watch?
- Do I need help to get the old tube off and new one on?
Having these details ensures you get a roller tube that fits properly and will work as expected. Don’t rush the replacement process and take time to do it right.
Roller Tube Replacement Ensures Optimal Tonneau Function
In summary, roller tubes are essential but wearable components of retractable tonneau covers. When your original roller tube fails, timely replacement helps keep your cover functioning as intended.
With replacement tubes available from tonneau manufacturers, auto parts stores, and online retailers, you can easily find an exact replacement tube for your cover. Pay close attention to measurements, construction, and mounting requirements when selecting a new roller assembly.
Follow the proper installation procedures to safely swap out the worn roller tube. Once installed, be diligent about maintenance to maximize the lifespan of replacement parts. Addressing roller tube issues promptly preserves the performance of your truck bed cover.