A tonneau cover is a helpful truck accessory that provides protection, security, and improved gas mileage for pickup trucks. But can you use tie downs to secure cargo with a tonneau cover installed? Let’s explore the options for adding tie downs on trucks with tonneau covers.
What Are Tonneau Covers and Why Use Them?
A tonneau cover sits over the bed of a pickup truck, covering and protecting the cargo area. Tonneau covers come in different styles:
- Soft roll-up covers: Made of vinyl, these roll up to reveal the bed. They use snaps, velcro, or bows to attach to the side rails.
- Retractable covers: A canister houses the cover, allowing it to roll up or retract to open the bed.
- Folding covers: Hinged panels fold up toward the cab for bed access. Hard folding covers use aluminum panels while soft versions use vinyl.
- Hard solid covers: One-piece rigid covers that require removal for full bed access. Fiberglass, aluminum, and plastic polymer are common materials.
Tonneau covers offer many benefits for truck owners:
- Protection – Shields cargo from weather, dust, and theft.
- Security – Lockable covers deter opportunistic theft.
- Improved gas mileage – Reduces wind resistance for better fuel economy.
- Aesthetics – Provides a smooth, finished look.
- Resale value – Trucks with covers typically have higher resale values.
Why Would You Need Tie Downs with a Tonneau?
While tonneau covers protect the bed, tie downs provide extra cargo security by lashing items down. Tie downs prevent shifting and sliding during transport.
Reasons to use tie downs with a tonneau cover:
- Hauling large or heavy items prone to movement.
- Transporting dirt, gravel, or loose materials.
- Carrying tall cargo that protrudes above the bed rails.
- Securing motorcycles, ATVs, or other vehicles.
- Towing trailers where tie downs can supplement security.
Tie downs provide peace of mind that cargo will remain stable in transit, especially on rough roads or at highway speeds. They also prevent items from blowing out if the tonneau cover gets opened accidentally.
Can You Install Tie Downs on Trucks With Different Tonneau Cover Types?
The specific method will vary, but most truck models can accommodate tie downs with any style of tonneau cover:
Soft Roll-Up Covers
- Attach tie down hooks along the bed rail or stake pockets, under the rolled up cover.
- Use aftermarket rail kits that install over the cover.
- Some vinyl covers have gaps to access rails underneath.
- Drill holes in the cover to mount tie downs directly through.
- Install tie downs on the bed rail, accessible when cover is open.
- Use aftermarket anchor points that attach through the stake pockets.
- Drill holes in the canister’s side rails, avoiding damage to the internal rollers.
- Mount tie downs to the bed rail or stake pockets between panel folds.
- Install anchors halfway down the side rails to keep a low profile.
- Drill through support bows or panel joints, avoiding aluminum damage.
Hard Solid Covers
- Attach tie downs directly to the rigid cover if reinforced.
- Install anchors along the bed rail or stake pockets.
- Drill holes strategically through the cover, adding grommets if needed.
Tips for Properly Installing Tie Downs with Tonneau Covers
Doing it right ensures tie downs work seamlessly with your tonneau cover:
- Consult your owner’s manual or tonneau maker for guidance on accessory installation.
- Use high quality aftermarket tie down kits designed for tonneau applications.
- Cautiously drill holes to avoid damaging framework or internal components.
- Seal any drilled holes with grommets to prevent moisture intrusion.
- Position tie downs to allow full cover functionality and optimal bed access.
- Use corner tie downs to maximize usability of the cargo area.
- Apply weatherstripping around tie down holes to stop leaking.
- Use protective covers or pads to prevent strap abrasion on the tonneau.
- Make sure installed tie downs don’t void the tonneau cover warranty.
With proper planning and careful installation, you can add reliable tie downs to your truck without compromising the benefits of your tonneau cover. They allow you to securely haul all types of cargo so you can get the most out of your pickup.
FAQs About Tie Downs for Truck Tonneau Covers
Are some tonneau covers better for tie downs than others?
Hard covers and retractables typically offer the most tie down options, while soft covers may require some customization. consult your manual to see recommended methods.
Will drilling holes in my tonneau cover void the warranty?
Possibly. While some manufacturers allow custom drilling, others will void the warranty if holes are added. Check with the maker first.
Do I need special tools to install tie downs on a tonneau cover?
A basic drill is usually sufficient, along with bits suited for the cover material (e.g. sheet metal bits for aluminum). Using a template or guide ensures straight hole placement.
What’s the best way to weatherproof tie down holes in a tonneau cover?
Adding grommets or rubber sealing washers around the tie down holes prevents water intrusion and helps stop leaking. Apply weatherstripping tape for extra protection.
Should I put tie downs over or under my tonneau cover?
Mounting tie downs under the cover retains cargo space and tonneau functionality. Top mounting provides visible security but may interfere with cover operation. Do both for maximum tie down points.
How many tie downs should I add to my truck with a tonneau cover?
4 tie downs (one per corner) are usually sufficient for most cargo. For heavy loads consider adding 2-4 more spaced evenly along the bed rails. Too many tie downs can make cover operation difficult.
What’s the best way to stop tie down straps from rubbing on my tonneau cover?
Use edge protectors, vinyl pads, or recycled garden hose over spots where straps may rub. Installing tie downs inboard from cover edges also helps minimize abrasion. Adjust straps vertically when possible.
Can I put a headache rack on my truck if it has a tonneau cover?
Yes, many headache racks are designed to accommodate tonneau covers. Look for racks that mount solely to the bed rather than using the cab. Make sure the rack installs without drilling holes in the cover.
How do I maintain my tonneau cover with tie downs installed?
Check for wear, damaged seals, and loose hardware periodically. Reseal any drill holes and tighten hardware as needed. Use vinyl conditioner and protectants to keep the cover looking good.
In summary, with careful planning and proper installation, tie downs can be added to trucks with any type of tonneau cover. Following the tonneau maker’s guidance helps ensure cargo is secured safely while preserving the cover’s function and warranty protections. Tie downs and tonneau covers work together to provide truck owners the best of both worlds – protected, weatherproof cargo hauling.