Opening the hard folding tonneau cover on your truck only to find it stuck in the open position can be extremely frustrating. This versatile cover is supposed to provide security and protection for your truck’s cargo bed when closed. When it gets stuck open, it defeats the whole purpose of having it in the first place!
Fortunately, there are a few common reasons why your hard tonneau cover may get stuck open. Identifying the cause is the first step to getting it unstuck so you can close it properly again.
What are some common reasons a hard folding tonneau cover can get stuck open?
Hard folding tonneau covers can get stuck for mechanical or weather-related reasons. Here are some of the most common causes:
The latches are stuck
The latches on a hard folding tonneau cover allow it to lock into place when closed. Over time, these latches can get stiff, sticky, or bent out of shape. This prevents them from opening and closing properly. Trying to open a cover with stuck latches takes extra force, which can put stress on the release cables. Lubricating the latches is often the quick solution to get them moving freely again.
The release cable is damaged
Hard folding tonneau covers have a release cable that runs from the tailgate handle up to the front of the cover. This cable is what allows you to open the cover from the back of the truck. If the release cable gets kinked or damaged from normal wear and tear, it can prevent the cover from opening. The cable may need to be repaired or replaced.
The hinges are frozen
On cold winter days, any moisture on the hinges of the folding panels can freeze. This essentially glues the panels shut with ice. Trying to force a frozen tonneau cover open can damage the hinges. Using a de-icer spray can help melt the ice so the panels open freely.
The support arms are broken
The support arms are what hold a hard folding tonneau cover open. If one or more of the support arms gets damaged or bent, they may not support the cover properly. The tonneau can get stuck open if the arms don’t extend all the way.
The hydraulic pistons need repair
Some heavy-duty folding covers use hydraulic pistons to make opening and closing easier. The pistons may leak fluid over time or become damaged. Loss of hydraulic pressure prevents them from having enough force to open the cover.
The release lever is stuck
Inside the tailgate is an interior release lever that the cable attaches to. Gunk, dirt, and grime can make this lever stick. Spraying lubricant through the cable access hole can help free up a stuck lever so the cable moves freely again.
How can I get my stuck hard folding tonneau cover to open?
If your hard folding tonneau cover is stuck open, don’t force it. That will likely just cause more damage. Try these tips instead:
Check the release cable
Make sure the release cable is still attached properly at both ends – the lever and the handle. If it came loose, reattaching it may be all you need to do. Sometimes sticking zip ties on the end can help the cable catch better on the lever mechanism.
Lubricate the latches
Use a silicone spray or lithium grease to lubricate the tonneau cover latches. This helps loosen any sticky or stiff parts so the latches open easier. Cycle the latches several times to work in the lubricant.
Free any frozen hinges
For hinges stuck shut from ice, use a de-icer spray formulated for automotive use. The hinges need to thaw before forcing the cover open. Applying heat with a hair dryer can also help melt any ice.
Check the support arms
Make sure the support arms are intact and extending fully. Compare to the unbroken arm on the other side if needed. If an arm is damaged, replacement support arms are readily available online. Installing new arms should allow the cover to open normally.
Ensure the pistons work
On a hydraulic tonneau cover, the pistons need proper fluid pressure to open the heavy panels. Refilling the reservoir may add enough pressure if the pistons are just low on fluid. Major leaks require replacement of seals or the piston itself.
Free up the release lever
If you suspect the interior release lever is stuck, have someone spray lubricant down the cable access hole while you work the handle. The lubricant will free up the stuck lever so the cover can open.
What maintenance helps prevent tonneau covers from getting stuck?
Performing regular maintenance on your truck’s tonneau cover prevents many issues that can cause it to get stuck open or closed. Here are some good maintenance tips:
Inspect the latches periodically
Every few months, check that the latches open and close smoothly. Lubricate any sticky or stiff latches right away to prevent seizing up. Catching and fixing latch issues early is much easier than dealing with stuck latches down the road.
Keep the hinges clean
Debris in the hinge area can interfere with smooth operation. Use compressed air to periodically blow out any dirt or gunk. Wipe down the hinges every couple months to prevent buildup.
Check the hydraulic pistons
On hydraulic tonneau covers, inspect the hydraulic pistons yearly for signs of leakage. Refill the reservoir if the fluid level is low. Repair any leaky seals or cylinders right away before major damage occurs.
Watch for release cable damage
Examine the release cable occasionally for kinks, fraying, or stretched areas. Damaged sections can cause the cable to stick or bind. Replace the cable at the first sign of wear to maintain smooth function.
Keep drainage areas clear
Clean out drain tubes and channels as part of periodic tonneau cover maintenance. Blocked drainage allows puddles to form, which can freeze hinges shut in cold weather. Rinse with water if dirt is clogging drainage gaps.
Cycle the cover daily
Regular use keeps the moving parts of a tonneau cover lubricated and flowing freely. If not using your truck daily, remember to open and close the cover fully every couple days. This prevents seizing from lack of movement.
When should I call a professional for tonneau cover repair?
For quick fixes like lubricating latches or freeing stuck levers, DIY repair is fine. But for more complex tonneau issues, having a professional mechanic handle it can ensure proper diagnosis and service. Seek professional help for:
Major hydraulic system leaks
Significant loss of hydraulic fluid compromises the hydraulic pistons’ ability to open and close the cover. Attempting to drive with major hydraulic leaks can damage the tonneau system further. Trust an experienced mechanic to safely diagnose and repair hydraulic issues.
If the tonneau cover frame, hinges, or panels get bent or warped from an impact or accident, the geometry won’t align properly for opening and closing. The trained eye of a professional is needed to assess the damage and determine if repair or replacement is required.
Damaged support arms
While support arms can be replaced individually, multiple broken arms likely indicate an underlying problem like frame damage or fatigue. A mechanic can determine if full replacement is needed for structural integrity.
Repeated stuck issues
If lubricating, de-icing, and release cable repairs only provide temporary fixes before your cover gets stuck again, a pro should inspect it. An expert can spot hard-to-find root causes of repetitive malfunctions. Their diagnostic skills are worth the cost.
Anything beyond your skill level
Tonneau covers are complex systems. Don’t cause further damage by attempting repairs you’re unsure about. Be realistic about your DIY abilities. A small repair investment is better than ruining your tonneau cover for good.
Key Takeaways: Getting an Unstuck Hard Folding Tonneau Cover Open
- Common causes of a stuck open tonneau cover include damaged latches, cables, hinges, arms, and pistons as well as weather factors like ice.
- Quick fixes involve lubricating, de-icing, replacing broken parts, and freeing stuck levers. Avoid forcing it open.
- Regular maintenance and cleaning helps prevent tonneau covers from sticking and seizing up.
- Seek professional diagnosis and repair for any issues beyond basic fixes to avoid worsening the problem. A trained mechanic can get your tonneau cover smoothly opening and closing again.
A stuck open folding tonneau cover doesn’t have to remain a permanent frustration. Understanding what typically causes these covers to malfunction helps you get yours unstuck faster. With some preventative care and prompt fixes when problems occur, your hard folding truck bed cover will continue providing years of trouble-free protection for your cargo.