Tonneau covers are a great way to protect the cargo area of your truck bed. But over time, the hinges on soft roll-up or hard folding tonneau covers can get sticky and start squeaking. You may wonder if you can use WD-40 lubricant to quiet them down. It’s not recommended to use WD-40 on tonneau cover hinges. Here’s a detailed look at why and the best options for lubricating tonneau cover hinges.
Why Not Use Wd-40 on Tonneau Cover Hinges?
WD-40 is a light-duty spray lubricant. It can work well for freeing up sticking or partially rusted hinges. It also lubricates squeaky door hinges and latches on vehicles. However, WD-40 is not the best choice for the constant motion and wear that tonneau cover hinges endure.
WD-40 is not formulated to cling and last on metal-to-metal joints like tonneau cover hinges. It evaporates and drips off over time. So the lubrication is short-lived. For parts that move frequently under strain like tonneau hinges, a clinging grease is a better fit to repel water and hold up under opening and closing forces.
Additionally, some tonneau cover manufacturers specifically advise against using WD-40. It can break down the vinyl or seals over time on soft covers. Using the wrong lubricant may also void warranties if it causes damage. Always check your owner’s manual for the recommended lubricants for your specific tonneau cover brand and model.
Better Tonneau Cover Hinge Lubricant Options
Here are some good options for keeping your tonneau cover hinges quietly and smoothly operating for the long haul:
White Lithium Grease
White lithium grease is a top choice recommended by many tonneau cover manufacturers. It is designed to withstand water and cling to metal while providing long-lasting lubrication. The white color makes it easy to apply as well.
This heavy-duty, high-temperature grease stands up to opening and closing forces better than WD-40. It also repels dirt to prevent gritty friction over time. Look for NLGI #2 grade white lithium grease, which has the optimum thickness for most tonneau hinges.
PTFE Dry Spray Lubricants
PTFE dry lubricant sprays like WD-40 Specialist Dry Lube or DuPont Teflon Non-Stick Dry-Film Lubricant are also good tonneau cover hinge options. The PTFE forms a clean, dry lube film that doesn’t attract dirt and dust. It reduces friction and squeaking while protecting against rust and corrosion.
The dry lubricant won’t wash away like WD-40 liquid either. It’s a great choice for vinyl tonneau covers since it won’t cause deterioration like greases can over time. Check your owner’s manual though, as some brands specify not to use any PTFE or silicone-based lubricants.
303 Aerospace Protectant
303 Aerospace Protectant is a versatile vinyl, rubber, plastic cleaner and protectant. Some tonneau owners use it to clean tonneau rails and lubricate the sliding retractable cover along the rails. However, don’t use it directly on hinges as it can attract dirt and debris over time. Stick to white lithium grease or a dry lubricant for hinges.
Graphite powder is also an effective dry lubricant for tonneau hinges. The microscopic graphite flakes rub off onto the hinges to reduce friction and wear. It won’t wash away, evaporate or attract dust like WD-40. It’s a good option for grease-sensitive vinyl covers as it won’t cause damage or stains.
Silicone spray lubricants provide light water resistance and lubrication for tonneau hinges. The silicone allows surfaces to slip smoothly. It helps repel water and protect against corrosion as well. Check manufacturer guidelines though, as some advise against silicone or PTFE sprays for their tonneau models.
Tonneau Cover Manufacturer Hinge Lubricant Kits
Some brands like BakFlip offer special tonneau hinge lubrication kits for their covers. The kits include custom greases or silicone lubricants tested specifically for optimal use on their hinges. So if available, it’s best to use the lubricant designed for your exact tonneau model.
The manufacturer kits also include detailed instructions on how and where to apply the lubricant on the hinges. This ensures proper usage for maximum hinge life.
How to Lubricate Tonneau Cover Hinges
Once you have the right lubricant for your particular tonneau cover, here are some tips for lubricating the hinges:
- Clean the hinges first to remove any dirt, grime or existing lubricant residue. A degreaser can help prepare the surface.
- For greases, use a small brush or cotton swab to apply and work the grease into the hinge pivot points. Avoid getting grease on tonneau surfaces.
- Apply PTFE or silicone sprays in light coats, spraying the lubricant directly onto hinge knuckles. Let it penetrate and dry fully.
- For graphite powder lubricants, use a brush to dust the powder lightly onto hinges. Buff gently with a cloth to work into crevices. Remove any excess.
- Go slowly and gently when lubricating to ensure lubricant only goes where needed in the right amounts.
- Test operation and re-apply if needed. Don’t overlubricate hinges. Excess lubricant can attract dirt or fling out.
- Reapply lubricant once every 6 months or as needed based on climate conditions and hinge wear.
Signs Your Tonneau Cover Needs Hinge Lubrication
Watch for these signs it’s time to lubricate your tonneau cover hinges:
- Squeaking or creaking noises when opening or closing
- Sticking, binding, or uneven lifting
- Sections not aligning or closing flush
- Gritty or rough movement
- Cover not closing fully
- Excessive force needed to open or close
- Loose or weakened latches/lift assists
Tonneau Cover Maintenance to Prevent Hinge Wear
Proper care and maintenance are also key to keeping your tonneau cover hinges in smooth working order. Here are some tips:
- Open and close using the recommended hand holds or pull loops. Avoid yanking hard on sections.
- Release latches/clamps fully before opening to prevent binding and strain.
- Keep hinge knuckles free of debris and grit to prevent abrasion.
- Park in shade when possible to limit vinyl cover sun damage and warping.
- Check for damage after hauling cargo that could dent, twist or warp panels.
- Use support bows on soft roll-up covers to reduce sagging and stress on seams.
- Clean vinyl and hinges regularly to prevent dust and dirt buildup.
- Watch for frayed or loose hinge rivets that could lead to detachment.
- Avoid exposing vinyl tonneaus to petroleum products like grease that can degrade the material.
- Use tonneau cover support products like rails, brackets and shims as needed.
- Don’t open cover with cargo touching the underside to prevent folds and warping.
Proper lubrication and care will keep those tonneau hinges whisper quiet and working smoothly for maximum life! And be sure to use the right lubricant for your particular tonneau cover brand and model. WD-40 may ease the squeak for a short time, but it’s not a good permanent solution for tonneau hinges. Stick to white lithium grease, PTFE dry lubes, graphite powder or a silicone spray specifically made for tonneau covers for best results.