A retractable tonneau cover that won’t close all the way can be very frustrating. But don’t worry – in most cases, the problem can be fixed with a few easy troubleshooting steps. This article will walk you through the common issues that cause a retractable tonneau cover to not fully close, and provide solutions to get your cover closing properly again.
What are the Common Causes of a Retractable Tonneau Cover Not Closing Fully?
There are a few key things that typically cause a retractable tonneau cover to not close all the way:
One of the most common reasons a retractable tonneau cover won’t fully close is because there is a problem with the latching mechanism. The latches along the sides are what hold the cover closed and sealed against the bed rails. Here are some latch-related issues that could prevent full closure:
- Misaligned latches – If the latches are not properly aligned with the locking posts on the rails, the cover cannot fully close. Re-adjusting the latch alignment can fix this.
- Obstructed latches – Dirt, debris, ice etc. in the latch mechanism can prevent the latches from fully engaging. Cleaning the latches is needed to resolve this.
- Broken or damaged latches – Over time, especially with excessive force when closing the cover, the latches can become dysfunctional. Replacing broken latches will be required.
Retracting Mechanism Problems
Issues with the retracting mechanism, usually at the canister by the cab, can also impede full closure of a retractable cover:
- Debris or dirt in tracks – Built up debris in the retracting tracks can cause sticking, rubbing or jamming as the cover tries to close. Cleaning is required.
- Dry & dirty rollers/bearings – Lack of lubrication and dirt buildup on the internal rollers over time leads to friction and resistance as the cover closes. Lubricating and cleaning the rollers and bearings restores smooth function.
- Broken retraction parts – With enough forceful closing over time, internal parts like springs and cables can become damaged. Replacing broken retraction components will be needed.
Vinyl Cover Problems
Sometimes the vinyl cover itself can develop issues that prevent smooth retracting closure:
- Warped/deformed vinyl – Exposure to sun and heat can warp or deform the vinyl over time. Vinyl repair kits can help reshape warped sections.
- Tears or holes – Significant damage like tears and holes allows too much slack in the vinyl, leading to binding and bunching as the cover tries to close. Vinyl patches or full replacement may be necessary.
- Stuck debris – Smaller objects like rocks or sticks trapped in the vinyl folds can create just enough interference to inhibit full closure. Carefully removing the debris generally resolves this.
Steps to Fix a Retractable Tonneau Cover Not Closing All the Way
If your retractable tonneau cover suddenly won’t close completely, don’t panic. Here is a systematic approach to identify the cause and fix the problem:
1. Visually Inspect Entire Cover System
- Look along all bed rails and latch areas for any damage, obstructions or misalignment.
- Check vinyl cover for warping, tearing, holes or debris stuck in folds.
- Look in the canister housing and retracting mechanism for damage or buildup of dirt.
2. Try Closing Cover to Pinpoint Where Binding Occurs
- Use the remote or switch to attempt closing the cover normally. Watch to see where it binds up.
- Is there a particular side that sticks first? Does the canister struggle to retract? This can reveal where the problem is originating.
3. Clean Latches, Rails, Rollers and Tracks
- Use a rag and lubricant/degreaser to thoroughly clean latches and bed rails. Remove built up dirt, grime or corrosion that could be impeding smooth operation.
- Carefully clean the rollers, tracks and interior of canister housing. Remove all debris buildup and re-lubricate components.
4. Adjust and Realign Latches if Needed
- If latches seem misaligned, loosen any adjustment screws and realign latches evenly.
- Ensure latches have proper tension against rails when closed – tight enough for good seal but not overly tight.
5. Repair or Replace Damaged Components
- Broken or overly worn latches, rollers, springs etc. will need replacing to function properly again. Acquire needed replacement parts.
- Significant vinyl cover damage may require patching tears or holes, vinyl repair kits or total cover replacement.
- Carefully inspect and identify all damaged components that require replacement.
6. Test Closing Cover Again After Repairs
- After cleaning, adjusting and replacing any damaged parts, thoroughly test closing the cover again.
- Ensure cover fully retracts and seals against rails with no binding or sticking issues.
7. Contact Manufacturer if Issues Persist After Repairs
- If the cover still does not close completely after repairs, contact the manufacturer for additional troubleshooting tips or to acquire service.
Tips to Prevent Future Retractable Cover Closure Problems
Here are some useful tips to help prevent a retractable tonneau cover from developing closure issues over time:
- Lubricate – Periodically lubricate hinges, bearings and sliding surfaces to prevent sticking. Use recommended lubricants.
- Adjust – Ensure latches and mechanisms have proper tension and alignment. Adjust if needed.
- Clean – Use proper cleaning methods and products to keep rails, seals, vinyl cover and interior housing clean.
- Careful operation – Open and close cover with care to prevent damage. Don’t force cover if binding occurs.
- Periodic inspection – Do visual inspections to look for emerging problems with hinges, latches, vinyl cover etc. Address issues early before major damage occurs.
- Protect from elements – Use tonneau cover conditioners and protectants to shield vinyl cover from sun, dirt and moisture damage.
Proper care and maintenance goes a long way in preventing problems and preserving the function of your retractable tonneau cover. But even with careful use, problems can still occur over time.
Using the troubleshooting tips in this article will hopefully give you the knowledge to accurately diagnose and repair a retractable cover that refuses to fully close. With a little time and effort, you can get your cover closing correctly again.