Tonneau covers are a popular truck bed accessory that provide protection, security, and improved gas mileage. However, over time tonneau covers can start to stretch, causing issues like flapping, leaking, and damage. So what causes tonneau covers to stretch out?
Why Do Tonneau Covers Stretch?
Tonneau covers can stretch and deform over time for a variety of reasons:
If the tonneau cover is not installed correctly and evenly tightened at all points, it can lead to early stretching and distortion. Uneven tightening stresses the fabric or vinyl and causes it to loosen and sag over time.
Extreme heat and cold causes the materials of tonneau covers to expand and contract. This constant expansion and contraction slowly stretches out the fabric. Vinyl tonneau covers are especially prone to damage from UV rays and heat.
If a soft tonneau cover is removed and incorrectly folded or rolled for storage, it can develop creases and deformations. Hard folding covers can also bend and warp if not stored properly upright.
Normal Wear and Tear
With regular use over many years, the effects of sun, rain, dirt, and wind will degrade and stretch tonneau cover materials. The bonds holding together vinyl and seams slowly weaken with age.
Frequent washing, especially with harsh cleaners, can dry out vinyl tonneau covers and cause them to shrink and deform. It’s best to only wash them occasionally with mild soap and water.
Standing or placing heavy objects on a soft tonneau cover can stretch the fabric. The weight strains the material, causing sagging and deformation over time.
How To Prevent Tonneau Covers From Stretching
To maximize the lifespan of your tonneau cover and prevent premature stretching and damage:
- Install it correctly and evenly tighten all clamps, snaps, and bolts per the instructions.
- Use a tonneau cover conditioner/protectant to protect against UV rays. Reapply a couple times per year.
- Open the cover to air it out if moisture builds up inside the truck bed.
- Fold or roll up a soft cover neatly for storage to prevent creases.
- Avoid exposing the tonneau cover to harsh chemicals or cleaners.
- Never power wash the cover. Just use mild soap and water occasionally.
- Don’t stand or place heavy objects on a soft cover.
- Upgrade to a thick leather grain or hard folding cover for durability.
- Check and retighten the cover annually as needed.
When To Replace a Stretched Tonneau Cover
If your tonneau cover has stretched to the point where it billows open at highway speeds, leaks during rain, or can’t close fully, then it’s time to replace it. Spot repair kits only offer temporary fixes for severe stretching or damage. It’s typically better and easier to just invest in a new heavy duty replacement tonneau cover.
Key Takeaways: Causes of Tonneau Cover Stretching
- Improper installation, storage, cleaning, and wear over many years leads to stretching.
- Extreme hot and cold temperatures makes covers expand and contract, deforming them over time.
- Vinyl covers are especially prone to UV damage and deterioration.
- Harsh washing and improper weight placement accelerates cover damage.
- Prevent premature stretching by caring for your tonneau properly and getting a durable model initially.
- Replace excessively stretched covers for full functionality. Temporary repairs won’t fix severe sagging.