If you have a soft tonneau cover on your truck and notice it flapping at highway speeds, making loud noises, it can be annoying and potentially damage the cover over time. Here are some steps you can take to stop your soft tonneau cover from flapping and making noise while driving.
Inspect Installation and Tighten Cover
When installing a soft tonneau cover, it is crucial to tighten the cover evenly at all screws and clamps. If the cover is not tightened correctly across the bed, it can become stretched and warped over time from temperature changes and cause flapping noises and accelerated wear.
Carefully inspect the tonneau cover mounting points and hardware. Make sure all clamps, screws, and tension adjusters are evenly and securely tightened according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Overtightening can also cause problems, so find the right torque settings. Use a torque wrench if possible to ensure even tightening.
Installing additional weatherstripping along the edges of your truck bed and tailgate can help reduce wind noise from a tonneau cover flapping at speed. The weatherstripping creates a tighter seal between the cover and truck bed, reducing airflow underneath and vibration.
Purchase automotive weatherstripping designed for tonneau covers and carefully install it along the front bed rail, side rails, and tailgate rim where the cover sits. Compressing the weatherstripping between the cover and bed can keep things tighter and quieter. Make sure to use proper adhesive to affix the weatherstripping and allow time to cure before installing cover.
Check and Clean Drain Tubes
Many soft tonneau covers come with built-in drain tubes or gutters that funnel water out of the cover tracks or rails. Check these drain tubes periodically and make sure they are clear of debris so water can flow freely out when driving in wet conditions.
Clogged drain tubes can lead to water pooling in the tonneau tracks or channels. This standing water can cause the cover to flap at higher speeds. Make sure to use a small flexible brush to clean out the drain tubes and relieve water buildup.
Adjust Tonneau Tensioning Mechanism
Some soft tonneau covers have a tensioning mechanism integrated at the cab end of the truck bed. This allows you to adjust the tightness of the cover across the bed. If your cover has this tensioner, try tightening it incrementally to remove any slack or looseness in the cover.
Be careful not to overtighten the tensioner as this can put too much stress on the cover material. Make small turns of the tensioner and check to see if it has removed any flapping or billowing of the cover while driving. The goal is smooth, quiet operation.
Consider Replacing with a Hard Tonneau Cover
If your soft tonneau cover continues flapping aggressively at highway speeds after trying the above steps, it may be time to replace it. Soft covers can lose resilience over years in the elements leading to premature fatigue and failure.
Upgrading to a hard folding, retractable, or hinged tonneau cover can provide a sturdier, quieter solution. Hard covers are more rigid and better sealed against the bed, reducing flapping from wind force. The sleek low profile also improves aesthetics and fuel economy.
Just make sure to match the new hard cover to the make/model of your truck and bed size for proper fitting. Then take care to follow the manufacturer’s instructions during installation and maintenance.
Inspect for Damage and Expedite Replacement
Not only is flapping annoying, but it can actually damage cargo under the cover over time as the material whips around. If you notice signs like frayed edges, elongated bolt holes, or splitting seams, the constant force can shorten the useful life of the cover.
Before more costly repairs are needed, start shopping for a brand new OEM replacement soft tonneau cover. Again, match the exact make, model, and bed length of your truck. Factor in the effort needed for self-install or professional replacement.
Alternative Solutions to Stop Flapping
If new covers are not in the budget, there are some temporary solutions to try and mitigate a flapping soft tonneau:
- Attach straps across the cover to compress it down, reducing wind billowing. Make sure these are securely fastened.
- Use strong neodymium magnets to help hold the cover tighter to the bed rails. Position several along the sides.
- Install under-cover bed stiffeners that push up on the underside, keeping it taut.
- Apply industrial-strength double-sided tape on the underside to minimize vibration and slapping.
- Use small bungees or cords to create make-shift tensioners across the cover length.
These methods may reduce flapping noise and air intrusion but likely will not fully solve the problem long-term if the cover is stretched out. But they can buy you some extra time before replacing the worn-out soft tonneau.
Maintain Proper Care to Maximize Tonneau Life
To prevent premature wear, weather damage, and cover looseness that causes flapping:
- Park your truck in covered areas or garages as much as possible. UV rays and weather accelerate deterioration.
- Wash soft vinyl covers frequently with specialized cleaners and protectants to avoid dry rot.
- Apply UV protectants to leather grain vinyl covers to repel sun damage.
- Lubricate hinges, clamps, and tension cables with silicone spray.
- Check and tighten mounting hardware before long trips.
- Clean out drain tubes and rail channels regularly.
Proper care and maintenance will keep your soft tonneau cover in optimum shape for years of smooth, quiet function and protection. But covers do wear out eventually, so listen for flapping noises and address problems quickly before permanent loosening or tearing occurs. With some repairs or upgrades, you can eliminate annoying cover flutter and noise.
Frequently Asked Questions About Soft Tonneau Covers
What causes soft tonneau covers to flap and make noise?
The main causes of soft tonneau cover flapping and noise are:
- Loose installation – Clamps, screws, and tension not evenly tightened allow the cover to billow and vibrate from wind force at highway speeds.
- Worn-out cover – Over time, vinyl covers can stretch out and sag. The constant flapping accelerates deterioration.
- Clogged rails/channels – Built up debris and water in the tonneau channels creates airflow and turbulence under the cover.
- Damaged seals/adhesives – Compromised sealing around the bed allows excessive wind intrusion and vibration.
- Poor maintenance – Lack of cleaning, UV treatment, and lubrication leads to premature wear, weathering, and loosening.
How can I make my soft tonneau cover more secure?
- Make sure all hardware is tightened evenly across the bed using torque wrench specifications.
- Add automotive weatherstripping adhesive on the bed rails and tailgate rim to seal the cover edges.
- Adjust integrated tension control knobs or cables to keep cover taut.
- Install under-cover bed stiffeners and compression foam pads to minimize movement.
- Use straps, bungees, magnets, or tape on the underside to improve hold-down strength.
When should I replace my flapping soft tonneau?
If you still experience persistent cover flutter and noise after adjusting the installation, cleaning rails, lubricating parts, and using temporary stabilization methods, it’s a sign your soft cover is excessively worn out and needs replacement.
Look for torn seams, elongated bolt holes, broken snaps, sagging corners, or cracks/crazing in the vinyl while inspecting your cover. Severe weathering and physical damage mean replacement is needed.
What tonneau cover upgrades can reduce wind noise?
Upgrading from a soft to a hard tonneau cover can significantly reduce wind noise from flapping:
- Hard folding covers use aluminum or reinforced polymer panels that won’t billow from wind. Vinyl-over-aluminum types add durability.
- Hinged hard covers open for full bed access. The heavy duty lids lay flat when closed for a tight seal.
- Retractable hard covers roll up into a canister at the cab when not needed. The low profileHists flush to the bed.
Just ensure the hard cover is designed specifically for your truck make/model/bed size for proper noise-free function.
Will using armor all protectant on my tonneau prevent flapping?
Armor All and similar vinyl protectants help keep soft tonneau covers conditioned against UV damage, fading, and drying out. But protectants alone will not prevent a loose, worn cover from flapping at speed. Proper installation, maintenance, cleaning, and tensioning adjustments need to be performed in conjunction with using UV protectants. If those fail to stop flapping, the cover likely needs to be replaced.
Flapping soft tonneau covers can be an annoying – and potentially damaging – issue for truck owners. But in most cases, some relatively simple adjustments and maintenance can quiet things down and prolong the life of your cover. Start with ensuring even clamping and tensioning across the bed, keep rails clear, and use weatherstripping to improve the seal. Maintain cover resilience with frequent cleaning and UV treatments. Adjust or upgrade to a hardy tonneau if flapping persists. With proper care and quick response to problems, you can keep your cover noise-free for maximum cargo protection and improved fuel mileage.