Truck owners know that investing in a quality tonneau cover can provide many benefits like protecting cargo, improving gas mileage, and adding style to your truck. However, those with soft roll-up covers secured by snaps may find those snaps unexpectedly breaking over time. What causes this frustrating issue and what can be done to prevent it? This comprehensive guide will explore the root causes of snap breakage on soft roll-up tonneau covers and provide tips to maximize the lifespan of your cover.
Why Do The Snaps Break On Soft Roll-Up Tonneau Covers?
Improper Securing Of The Cover
One of the most common reasons snaps break on soft roll-up tonneau covers is improper securing of the cover when closed. If the snaps are not properly fastened along the rails or bed sides, the vinyl cover may flap violently in the wind while driving. This puts extreme stress on the snaps and can lead to premature breakage. Be sure to take the time to securely fasten each snap properly when closing the cover.
Shrinkage Of The Vinyl Material In Cold Temperatures
Vinyl tonneau covers can shrink slightly when exposed to very cold temperatures. This shrinkage may make it difficult to get the cover to lie flat and snap into place during winter months. Trying to force misaligned snaps to connect by stretching the shrunken vinyl will put too much strain on the snaps, eventually causing them to crack or break off completely.
Normal Wear And Tear Over Time
Like any mechanical parts on vehicles, the snaps on soft roll-up tonneau covers will slowly degrade from repeated use and exposure to the elements. Over months and years of opening, closing, and driving around, the snaps experience tiny stresses that can add up. General aging can also weaken the snaps. This normal wear and tear will eventually take its toll, making the snaps more prone to breaking from regular use.
Other Factors That Contribute To Snap Breakage
- Use of Chemical Cleaners Or Conditioners – Harsh chemicals and cleaners, like armor all or bleach, can damage and weaken vinyl tonneau covers and snaps over time. Stick to mild soap and water for cleaning.
- Excessive Force Opening Or Closing – Avoid ripping open the cover or slamming it shut. Use slow, gentle motions to reduce strain on the snaps.
- Poor Quality Manufacturing – Cheaper covers may have weak, brittle snaps made from inferior plastics. Invest in a quality cover from a reputable brand.
- Exposure To Salt, Dirt, And Debris – Keep your cover clean and free of corrosive road grime to help extend the life of the snaps.
- Parking In The Sun – Heat and UV rays can accelerate aging and cause vinyl covers and plastic snaps to become brittle. Use a cover or park in the shade when possible.
- Lack Of Maintenance – Ensure snaps remain lubricated and make small repairs as needed to prevent premature failure.
Alternatives To Snap Closures On Soft Roll-Up Tonneau Covers
If you are fed up with broken snaps, consider switching to a soft roll-up tonneau cover that uses a different method to secure the vinyl:
The “hook” side and “loop” side of velcro can provide a strong hold when aligned properly. Velcro is also easy to open and close. However, velcro can wear out over time too.
Some covers have sturdy zippers that run the length of the cover for smooth opening and closing. Zippers hold up well if properly cared for.
Individual clamps spaced along the rails allow the cover to be secured at regular intervals. The clamps can be made of metal or plastic.
Plastic or aluminum rails have channels that the vinyl cover slides into. A latching mechanism keeps the cover tucked securely inside the channel.
Tips For Preventing Snap Breakage
If you want to get the maximum lifespan out of the snaps on your soft roll-up tonneau cover, here are some helpful tips:
- Lubricate the snaps every 6 months with silicone spray, wd-40, or another appropriate lubricant to prevent seizing and stress cracks.
- Be gentle when opening and closing the cover. Do not yank or use excessive force.
- Ensure your cover stays clean. Wash it regularly with a mild soap and water solution. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners.
- Inspect the snaps periodically for cracks or other damage. Make minor repairs immediately to prevent larger failures.
- Whenever possible, park the truck in a garage or covered area. This protects the cover from sun damage, weather, and debris that accelerates aging.
- On hot sunny days, use a reflective cover or sunshade on your truck to lower interior temps that can damage vinyl.
- During winter months, try parking in a warmer garage. Let the cover warm up before attempting to open it on very cold days.
- Follow the manufacturer’s care recommendations for vinyl covers. Apply protectants like 303 Aerospace Protectant every few months.
- Consider switching to a retractable or folding hard tonneau cover. These are held in place by hinges, not snaps.
When To Consider Replacing The Tonneau Cover
If snaps are breaking frequently and preventing the cover from properly securing cargo, it may be time to replace the whole cover. Watch for these signs that indicate replacement is needed:
- Snaps breaking repeatedly in a short period despite repairs
- Visible cracking/crazing of the vinyl material
- Cover unable to lie flat due to warped or stretched vinyl
- Seams coming apart due to UV damage or wear
- Frequent tears, holes, or rips in vinyl
- Cover no longer keeping cargo clean and dry
Most soft roll-up vinyl tonneau covers last 2-4 years with proper care. Get quotes from local dealers and online retailers when shopping for a replacement.
Snaps breaking on soft roll-up tonneau covers can certainly be annoying and disrupt cargo protection. But in many cases, the breakage can be prevented through proper use, care, and maintenance. Make sure to fasten the snaps securely, open/close the cover gently, lubricate snaps, wash vinyl regularly, and apply protectants to maximize the lifespan of your cover. Consider switching to alternative closure methods like velcro or clamps to avoid snap headaches. With reasonable precautions, your cover’s snaps should provide years of reliable service securing your truck bed.