Tree sap dripping onto your truck bed and cargo can be a frustrating problem for pickup truck owners. The sticky sap not only makes a mess, but can also permanently stain or damage your belongings. This leads many truck owners to wonder – will installing a tonneau cover help protect against tree sap?
How Does Tree Sap Get On Your Truck Bed?
Tree sap originates from the vascular tissue of trees, plants, and some vines. It is essentially the “blood” of the plant, transporting water and nutrients throughout. Sap will drip or ooze from the tree, either from natural openings in the bark or from fresh cuts and wounds.
There are a few ways tree sap can end up on your truck bed:
- Direct contact with trees, branches, pinecones, etc. when loading or unloading cargo.
- Parking under trees where sap can drip down. Deciduous trees like maples tend to “bleed” more sap.
- Driving under trees and having sap flakes blown onto the truck bed.
- Sap dripping off lumber, firewood, or other outdoor items loaded in the truck bed.
Tree sap contains sugars and resins that can bond strongly to surfaces, making it very sticky and difficult to remove. This is problematic when it gets on your truck bed or cargo.
How Effective Are Tonneau Covers Against Tree Sap?
A tonneau cover essentially creates a shell or lid over your truck bed. This provides an added layer of protection compared to an open truck bed. However, tonneau covers are not 100% sap-proof. Here are some key factors:
- Vinyl tonneau covers are relatively sap-resistant. The smooth vinyl surface makes sap less likely to stick. Sap can be cleaned off more easily compared to other materials.
- Aluminum tonneau covers can also resist sap fairly well. The hard aluminum panels don’t absorb the sap easily and it can be wiped off.
- Canvas tonneau covers are more prone to sap damage. The porous fabric allows sap to seep in and stain. Sap is very difficult to remove from canvas once it has set.
- Low-profile tonneau covers sit nearly flush with the truck bed, providing maximum coverage. This fully shields the bed from above. Less chance for sap to drip through cracks.
- Topper-style covers sit higher above the bed. Greater exposure through the gap means more opportunity for sap drips.
- Roll-up covers have to be sealed properly when closed. Gaps can allow sap inside. Opening the cover exposes the bed again.
- Parking under trees will allow sap to drip directly onto even the best tonneau covers. Try to avoid parking under sap-dripping trees.
- Angling the truck to avoid overhanging branches can help prevent direct contact and drips onto the cover.
So while tonneau covers can provide a degree of protection from tree sap, they cannot prevent it completely in all cases. The most sap-proof covers use vinyl or aluminum and have a tight seal with minimal gaps. But cautious parking is still necessary.
Tips for Dealing With Tree Sap on Tonneau Covers
If you do end up with tree sap on your tonneau cover, prompt cleaning is recommended to prevent permanent damage. Here are some tips for removing it:
- Fresh sap is easier to remove before it dries and hardens. Try to clean it off the same day for best results.
Use Warm Water
- Heat helps break down sap. Wash with warm water and mild soap. Avoid harsh cleaners.
- Use a soft brush or microfiber cloth to gently loosen and scrub off sticky sap. Avoid abrasive pads.
- For stubborn sap, a degreasing cleaner like WD-40 or Goo Gone can help dissolve it, then rinse clean. Test on a small area first.
- Rubbing a clay bar detailing product over the sap can help lift it off. Follow up with wax to protect the finish.
Park in Shade
- Blocking sunlight can slow sap from hardening on the cover. Makes removal easier.
With some elbow grease, you can generally get fresh sap removed from vinyl and aluminum tonneau covers using these cleaning methods. Avoid harsh chemicals that could damage the cover.
Are There Tonneau Covers Designed to Resist Sap?
There are some tonneau covers marketed as extra sap-resistant:
- This premium hard folding cover uses a textured matte finish that is engineered to reduce sap sticking and make it easier to remove if it does.
- Features a smooth Teflon-coated vinyl material claimed to allow sap to slide off without sticking. Helps prevent staining.
Truxedo Pro X15
- Utilizes leather-grained vinyl with resistance to tree sap bonding. Reduces adhesion and staining.
Extang Solid Fold
- The Solid Fold 2.0 has an “Exclusive Matte Finish” stated to repel sap and not allow it to penetrate the cover. Easy clean-up.
LUND Genesis Elite
- Uses a Twill weave fabric infused with fluorocarbon that enhances water and sap resistance. Can also be cleaned easily.
These covers do seem to provide added sap protection and stain prevention qualities based on owner reviews. But they are more expensive options. Just having a tight-sealing vinyl or aluminum cover helps minimize sap exposure.
Will Tree Sap Harm My Tonneau Cover?
Beyond just being a nuisance to clean off, tree sap itself is not likely to damage most tonneau covers. However, there are a few potential issues to be aware of:
- Staining – Sap that is left on fabric covers like canvas for extended time can seep in and leave permanent stains. These can be difficult or impossible to remove.
- Paint damage – Using harsh cleaners or abrasives to scrub dried sap off paint finishes could wear down the clearcoat or scratch the surface.
- Adhesion loss – On vinyl covers, very old, stubborn sap could theoretically cause the vinyl to delaminate if it seeps underneath.
- Corrosion – Sugars in sap can damage finishes on metal over time if left in contact. Could lead to pitting or corrosion on aluminum panels.
So while tree sap itself won’t necessarily harm tonneau covers, the methods required to remove it can if you’re not careful. Using gentle cleaning methods and not letting sap bake on for too long minimizes the risks of cover damage.
Will a Tonneau Cover Also Protect My Cargo From Tree Sap?
A tonneau cover adds a protective layer between overhead tree branches and your truck bed. This can effectively shield your cargo from direct tree sap drips in many cases. However, keep these factors in mind:
- Leaks from poorly sealed covers could still allow sap inside. Vinyl and aluminum covers seal better.
- Opening the tailgate or rolling up a soft cover exposes the cargo to sap again.
- Sap flakes could blow in during loading/unloading when open.
- Moisture and humidity inside could cause sap bonded to the cover to re-liquefy and drip onto cargo.
- Items pressed against the cover when sap is on it risk contact transfer of sap.
So while a tonneau cover adds worthwhile protection from tree sap versus an open bed, it does not completely guarantee your cargo will remain sap-free in all cases. Here are some additional tips for keeping cargo clean:
- Park strategically to avoid overhanging branches.
- Load items towards the cab or use a bed liner to create separation from the tailgate/cover.
- Check cover seals and close any gaps that could allow sap inside.
- Remove items before opening the cover if possible to prevent exposure.
- Keep the tonneau cover clean and sap-free to prevent transfer.
- Use moisture-resistant cargo bags or wraps as an extra barrier.
With vigilant parking habits and keeping your cover maintained, a tonneau cover can provide good cargo protection from tree sap drips. But it isn’t a foolproof solution. Taking some extra precautions can help keep your cargo clean.
Will Insurance Cover Tree Sap Damage?
Dealing with tree sap damage can be frustrating. You may wonder if auto or home insurance would cover any costs related to sap damage on your tonneau cover or cargo. Here is what you need to know:
Tonneau Cover Damage
- Most standard auto policies will not cover damage to tonneau covers or truck bed caps/shells. These are often excluded as “add-on” equipment.
- You would need to have Comprehensive/Other Than Collision coverage with endorsement for tonneau cover damage included to receive protection. This is optional on policies.
- Filing claims for minor cosmetic issues like sap stains may risk premium hikes or cancellations as well. So the coverage may not be worth using in mild cases.
- Standard auto policies also usually exclude coverage for personal property/cargo in the vehicle. You would need extra inland marine cargo insurance for protection.
- Homeowners or renters insurance may cover cargo belongings, but often limit payouts for items away from the residence. High deductibles apply too.
- Filing claims for lower value items may again not be optimal due to effects on future rates/renewals.
The bottom line is that standard insurance policies offer very limited coverage for tonneau covers or cargo damaged by tree sap. Only those with purchased add-on coverage could potentially file a claim, but it may not be financially worthwhile in many minor cases of sap exposure. Your best option is prevention rather than relying on insurance to reimburse you after the fact.
Will Tree Sap Damage Affect Resale Value?
Many truck owners are concerned about maintaining their vehicle’s resale value down the road. Will tree sap damage to your tonneau cover or truck bed impact resale prices? Here is what the experts say:
- Minor cosmetic issues like sap staining often don’t dramatically lower value. Most buyers expect some wear-and-tear.
- More severe staining, corrosion, or fouling could detract from value, as it suggests lack of care and maintenance.
- Sap-related damage is very minor compared to rust, accidents, or mechanical issues. Those have a larger effect.
- A cover with sap damage still retains functionality. Many buyers care more about utility than cosmetics.
- Cleaning or replacing the cover restores appeal. Covers themselves are easily replaced by new owners.
Overall, mild sap staining on the truck bed or a tonneau cover is unlikely to destroy your resale value. However, allowing extensive visible damage can deter fussy buyers and require pricing reductions. Keeping your truck and cover properly maintained helps optimize value at trade-in time. But normal wear issues like minor sap exposure won’t ruin values.
Can You Prevent Tree Sap Damage Altogether?
Tree sap can be annoying, but with the right tonneau cover and smart practices, you can minimize the risks:
- Carefully park away from sap-dripping trees when possible. Avoid low branches.
- Wash truck frequently to prevent sap buildup.
- Clean tonneau cover ASAP when sap gets on it.
- Use protectants and finishes to help repel sap.
- Seal any gaps that could allow sap sneaking inside.
- Load cargo away from cover if actively dripping.
- Use moisture-resistant cargo bags as added protection.
- Handle cover gingerly when sap present to avoid transfer.
- Choose vinyl or aluminum covers over canvas for easier cleaning.
Remaining vigilant will help restrict sap damage, but trucks used in wooded areas will inevitably deal with some. Don’t panic over minor sap exposure that occurs. Just promptly clean it off the cover and cargo the best you can. With due diligence, you can keep your truck bed and cargo protected against the nuisance of tree sap.
While tree sap dripping on your pickup truck can be a headache, installing a tonneau cover can provide worthwhile protection against sap damage on your cargo:
- Covers create a physical barrier limiting sap exposure. Vinyl & aluminum designs resist best.
- Prompt cleaning before sap dries using gentle methods can prevent permanent staining.
- Parking carefully to avoid overhanging branches adds important protection.
- Cargo placed near the cab or using moisture barriers gets further shielding.
- High-quality covers with tight seals & finishes that repel sap maximize effectiveness.
- Insurance coverage for sap damage is very limited, making prevention key.
No tonneau cover prevents 100% of tree sap, but the right cover and smart practices will minimize hassles from this common truck nuisance. With diligence, you can keep sap damage from ruining your day!