A soft tonneau cover can be a great way to protect your truck bed and cargo from the elements. However, a common frustration many truck owners face is their soft tonneau cover blowing open while driving, especially at highway speeds. This not only lets in rain, snow and dirt, but creates annoying wind noise and can damage your cover over time. Here are some helpful tips on how to prevent your soft tonneau from billowing open and flapping around while you drive.
Why Does My Soft Tonneau Cover Flap Open?
There are a few key reasons why soft truck bed covers can lift up and blow open while driving:
If the soft tonneau cover is not installed tightly and evenly with the provided clamps, rails, and snaps, it will not have a sturdy foundation to stay closed. Gaps, loose areas, and uneven tension across the cover will allow air to get underneath and blow it open.
Stretching and Sagging Over Time
Even if properly installed initially, soft vinyl and canvas can stretch and sag over months of use. This allows room for air and wind to get under the cover and push it open. Gravity also pulls on connection points like snaps, causing a loose fit.
Ripped Seams and Snaps
The vinyl and material used for soft covers can degrade from prolonged sun exposure. Cargo moving around in the truck bed can also cause rips and tears. When seams, snaps and bolt holes are compromised, the cover loses its tight seal against the truck bed.
Rusted and Damaged Hinges
On soft folding covers, the hinges along the panels and attached to the canister can rust and wear out over time. This prevents the panels from closing tightly together, and allows the wind to catch inside the cover.
Extreme Wind Conditions
Soft tonneau covers are inherently more susceptible to catching heavy winds and blowing open than rigid covers. Driving at highway speeds creates forceful air currents that can push up underneath and lift the cover.
Tips to Stop a Soft Tonneau Cover From Blowing Open
Here are some helpful tips and tricks to try if your soft tonneau cover keeps popping open on the highway or in windy conditions:
1. Reinstall Properly and Tighten Evenly
Take the time to remove your entire soft tonneau cover and reinstall it from scratch according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure all clamps, bolts, rails, and snaps are tightened evenly across the cover for optimal tensioning. Fix any parts that are warped or misaligned.
2. Check for Rips, Gaps and Loose Snaps
Thoroughly examine the outer vinyl or canvas layer of the soft cover for any rips, holes, or separated seams that could let air in and loosen the cover. Reattach any loose snaps or velcro. Apply vinyl repair kits to patch small rips and holes. Replace any irreparably damaged material.
3. Seal with Weatherstripping/Protectants
Apply heavy duty weatherstripping or tonneau edge protectants around the perimeter of the soft cover and contact points. This creates an airtight seal to block wind and moisture from sneaking underneath. Reapply protectants seasonally.
4. Adjust Roll Tension and Retighten Components
Many roll-up soft covers have adjustable tension knobs on the sides that can be tightened to create a taut cover. Folding covers may have adjustable latches. Periodically check all components and re-tighten anything loose.
5. Lubricate the Hinges
Use a hinge lubricant or WD-40 to generously lubricate the hinges along folding soft covers. This prevents rust and wear and allows the panels to fold together tightly.
6. Replace Damaged Hardware
With worn or rusted parts like canister hinges, snaps, and latches, the soft cover cannot properly seal closed. Replace any visibly corroded or cracked hardware to restore optimal function.
7. Add Securing Straps or Tie-Downs
For an extra level of security, install soft cover securing straps or truck bed tie downs. These provide connection points to firmly fasten the cover closed along the sides or at the tailgate gap.
8. Drive Slower or Avoid Severe Wind
In intense wind conditions, it may be unavoidable for soft covers to catch gusts of air. Slowing down will lessen the force of the wind on the cover. Avoid driving when wind advisories are issued in your area.
9. Upgrade to a Rigid Tonneau Cover
If you’ve exhausted all options for your soft cover, it may be time to upgrade to a hard folding, retractable or one-piece tonneau cover. Rigid covers are naturally more wind and pressure resistant when driving at highway speeds.
10. Proper Soft Tonneau Maintenance
Performing regular maintenance like washing, weatherproofing, lubricating hardware and ensuring proper storage goes a long way in extending the life of your soft cover and preventing premature wear-and-tear that leads to loosening and blowing open.
FAQs: Soft Tonneau Covers Blowing Open
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about dealing with soft tonneau covers that billow open while driving:
Can I drive with my soft tonneau cover partially open?
It’s not recommended. Partially open soft covers are more prone to catching air and blowing all the way open. The flapping material can also quickly wear out and damage the cover.
Do soft roll up tonneau covers hold up better than folding covers?
Roll up covers generally have less hardware components to fail than tri-fold and quad-fold soft covers. But all soft cover materials are vulnerable to stretching, tearing and loosening over time. Proper installation and maintenance makes the biggest difference.
Should I grease the latches on my soft folding cover?
Yes, it’s a good idea to periodically apply grease or another lubricant to the locking latches and hinges on soft folding covers. This prevents corrosion and wear and allows for smooth, tight operation.
Can I use household cleaners like Armor All on my vinyl tonneau cover?
Avoid household cleaners and treatments like armor all, wax, soap or bleach on soft vinyl covers as they can damage the material and cause it to dry out and crack. Use specialty vinyl tonneau cleaners and protectants.
Is it ok to power wash my soft tonneau cover?
Use caution when pressure washing soft covers – the intense water pressure can damage vinyl and seams. Use a low pressure setting, wide nozzle and keep the washer moving across the surface to safely clean the cover.
Should I store my soft tonneau cover folded or rolled up?
To prevent creasing and warping, always store soft vinyl covers flat and unfolded whenever not installed on your truck. Roll up covers should be stored unrolled if possible.
Can I drive faster with a hard tonneau cover instead of a soft cover?
Hard folding and retractable tonneau covers naturally provide greater wind resistance at highway speeds than soft covers. One-piece hard covers offer the most secure seal against air getting underneath.
How long should a soft tonneau cover last?
With proper care and maintenance, a quality soft vinyl or canvas tonneau cover should last 4-6 years. Factors like climate, driving speeds, cargo hauled and installation quality impact longevity.
Keeping your soft roll up or folding tonneau cover securely fastened while driving is key to protecting your truck bed and keeping out the elements. Follow these helpful tips and tricks to stop your cover from annoyingly blowing open on the road. Be sure to perform regular inspections, maintenance and hardware replacements as needed to maximize the life of your soft cover. Drive safe!