What causes a tonneau cover to not fully close?
A tonneau cover that won’t fully close can be very frustrating. After all, one of the main purposes of having a tonneau cover is to securely enclose the truck bed. So when the cover fails to close completely, it defeats that purpose. Thankfully, there are several common reasons a tonneau cover may not fully close, most of which can be fixed with minimal effort. Let’s explore the most likely culprits behind a tonneau cover that won’t latch closed.
Is the latch properly locked?
One of the most obvious reasons a tonneau cover won’t close all the way is a latch that isn’t locked properly. Most tonneau covers use some type of latching mechanism to keep the cover tightly sealed when closed. If the latch doesn’t engage and lock fully, the cover can pop up or fail to close flush with the bed sides.
Start by double checking that the latch is in the proper locked position. Press down firmly on the cover over the latch to help it engage and lock completely. You’ll likely hear an audible clicking sound when it’s properly seated. If the latch still won’t lock after pressing down, there could be an issue with the latch itself needing addressed.
Is a lever stuck or obstructed?
On many soft roll-up and retractable tonneau covers, the latch mechanism involves a small interior lever that the release wire hooks into. This lever is spring-loaded and designed to pop up when the release cable is pulled. But sometimes these levers can get stuck or obstructed, preventing the latch from fully closing.
Carefully open the tonneau cover and locate the latch lever. Try moving it manually with your fingers or a screwdriver to see if it’s stuck. If so, apply some lubricant like WD-40 to free it up. Clear away any debris or obstructions that could be blocking the lever from moving freely. With the lever operational again, the latch should be able to close fully.
Could rust be present in the mechanism?
Over time, rust can build up in the opening mechanism of a tonneau cover, whether cloth, vinyl, or even aluminum or fiberglass. This is especially true for covers exposed to wintry road salt, coastal moisture, or long-term outdoor storage. Rust particles can make the hinges, slides, and latches stick or malfunction.
Check the hinges, latch hardware, and rails for any visible rust spots. Use a household lubricant like WD-40 or a light oil to generously lubricate any rusted areas you find on the opening mechanism. Work the cover open and closed a few times to loosen the rust and distribute the lubricant. This should help clear up any sticky latch issues caused by rust.
How can I fix my tonneau cover latch so it fully closes?
If lubricating the latch mechanism doesn’t solve the problem of a tonneau cover not fully closing, the next step is to inspect and address any issues with the latches themselves. Here are some handy tips for fixing your stubborn tonneau cover latches:
Clean the latches of grime and debris
Buildup of dirt, dust or other debris on the latch contact points can prevent the latch from seating cleanly. Use a rag and a degreaser to thoroughly clean the latches on the cover and bed sides. Remove any grime that could be obstructing the latch from closing.
Lubricate the latch hardware
Apply a lubricant like WD-40 to the latch pins, bushings, striker plates and contact surfaces. This will help the components glide smoothly so the latch can fully engage and close tightly. Avoid using a heavy grease that could attract dust.
Realign any misaligned latches
Sometimes the latches get knocked out of alignment, preventing proper closure. Try loosening the latch mount bolts and shifting the latch position until it lines up correctly with the striker. Retighten the bolts once aligned.
Replace damaged or broken latches
If cleaning and lubricating doesn’t fix the issue, the latches themselves may just be worn out or broken and in need of replacement. Order replacement latches through your tonneau cover manufacturer or aftermarket supplier. Installing new latches should have your cover closing securely once again.
What are some other common tonneau cover closing problems and how can I fix them?
Beyond just stubborn latches, there are a few other typical culprits that can lead to tonneau cover closing problems. Here are some additional issues to look out for and tips to fix them:
Vinyl cover edges not taut
On vinyl roll-up covers, loose sagging corners can prevent the edges from sealing tightly. Tighten the tension bows or snaps working around the cover perimeter to draw the vinyl edges tighter.
Tailgate weatherseal not aligned
When the tailgate gasket is damaged or misaligned it can create a gap at the tailgate area, allowing the cover to pop up. Realign or replace the tailgate weatherseal to close any gaps.
Retractable rail misalignment
If a retractable tonneau’s rails are knocked out of alignment it can lead to improper cover closure. Try gently realigning the rails to restore smooth operation.
Debris inside the canister
Dirt, dust or rocks trapped inside the rolling canister of a retractable tonneau cover can obstruct the cover from fully retracting. Clean out the canister to restore full closure.
Damaged or sagging panels
On folding covers, warped, cracked or sagging panels that don’t sit flush can prevent full closure. Try readjusting or replacing any damaged panels.
With some basic inspection and troubleshooting of your tonneau cover latches and opening mechanism, you can solve most closing issues. But if your cover still won’t close correctly after trying these tips, have a professional assess the problem. Your tonneau cover is an important investment in protecting your truck bed, so don’t hesitate to have any stubborn closure issues properly repaired.
Why is it important to fully close your tonneau cover?
Okay, so your tonneau is being stubborn and won’t fully close. Why go through the hassle of fixing it – can’t you just drive with it partially closed? While that may seem convenient, there are some very good reasons you’ll want to make sure your tonneau closes completely every time.
Keep out weather elements
One of the main jobs of your tonneau is to seal the truck bed from rain, snow, wind, and other environmental elements. Even small gaps or openings can let in moisture to damage cargo. Proper closure is key for maximum weather protection.
Prevent cargo theft
An enclosed, locked tonneau provides increased security for your truck bed cargo. But a partially open cover is easy for thieves to peek into or even pry open further to steal your gear. Only a fully closed cover can maximize protection.
Optimize gas mileage
An open tonneau lets in air that creates aerodynamic drag, hurting your truck’s gas mileage. But a tightly sealed cover streamlines airflow for improved MPG and engine efficiency. Leaving your cover open defeats this benefit.
Flapping or rattling from a partially closed tonneau cover also leads to annoying wind noise at highway speeds. A properly closed cover keeps wind noise to a minimum for a quieter drive.
Avoid cover damage
The repeated stress of trailering or driving long distances with the cover partially opened can also cause premature wear or tearing. Keeping your tonneau fully closed extends its working life.
How can I prevent my tonneau cover from closing issues?
Consistently experiencing problems with a tonneau cover that won’t fully close can be aggravating. While periodic closure issues are unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to prevent chronic closing problems in the first place:
Keep your tonneau’s latches clean, lubricated and properly aligned. Perform occasional preventative latch maintenance to keep the closing mechanism working smoothly.
Periodically check the tension, alignment and gaps on soft roll-up covers and make any adjustments needed to maintain a tight seal.
Look for cracked, loose or deteriorating seals and proactively replace them before leaks arise. Keep seals clean.
Use a soft brush and mild soap to wash your cover and keep the fabric, vinyl or panels free of stuck-on grime that can impede closure.
When storing your truck for prolonged periods, keep the tonneau closed and secured to prevent sagging, warping or rusting of panels and hardware.
Excess loaded weight stresses the panels, vinyl and seals. Don’t overload the cover beyond rating to prevent premature damage.
With proper care and maintenance, your tonneau cover should provide years of trouble-free, weather-tight closure to securely contain your cargo. But performing an occasional closure inspection and using preventative care measures will go a long way toward avoiding frustrating closing issues.
How do I know when it’s time to replace my problematic tonneau cover altogether?
If you’ve tried troubleshooting tips and preventative maintenance but your tonneau cover still won’t fully close, seal tightly or stay closed when trailering at highway speeds, it may be time to replace it. Here are signs to look for when deciding whether to repair or replace your troublesome truck bed cover:
Age or mileage
Most tonneau covers typically last around 5 years or 50,000 miles. If your cover exceeds this lifespan, replacement may make sense over continued repairs.
If your tonneau is an older discontinued model, replacement parts may be scarce for repairs. Finding a new compatible cover could be easier.
Major cracks, tears, corrosion or structural damage that impedes closure can signal a cover nearing the end of its useful life.
If you’re constantly battling closure issues that reappear after repairs, ongoing use may be problematic. Starting fresh with a new cover could save headaches.
Advancements in materials, locking mechanisms and sealing technology may make upgrading to a newer cover worthwhile if you want the latest features.
Replacing a well-worn tonneau can seem premature if it’s still usable. But the hassle of frequent repairs plus compromised security and protection can take a toll. If your cover no longer closes reliably, investing in a new replacement can be the right call. Be sure to shop for a model that precisely fits your truck make and bed size. With a new, well-fitted cover that closes effortlessly, you’ll again have peace of mind that your cargo is locked up tight.
In summary, a tonneau cover that refuses to close fully can stem from a variety of culprits like stuck latches, misaligned components, physical damage or normal wear and tear. Inspecting the latches, hinges, vinyl and seals to identify and address the specific problem is key. Applying some elbow grease to clean and lubricate the sticking points will solve many closing issues. But if problems persist, replacing damaged parts or upgrading the outdated cover may be needed. With the truck bed secured by a properly closing cover, you can rest assured your valuable cargo is protected from weather and theft. Don’t settle for a subpar cover – diagnose and resolve any closure problems promptly so you can continue enjoying the benefits of a tightly sealed tonneau.