Tonneau covers exist in different designs. However, installing steps mostly do not differ a lot.
Unless the cover is of an unusual design, the process to place it on a truck should be easy and straightforward.
Hard tonneau covers, for example, may require prop rods while soft covers do not.
To make the procedure to install the type of tonneau cover for your truck easy, we put up an installation guide that suits most types.
Tonneau Cover Installation Guide
Things you will need:
- The tonneau cover installation kits
- Spring clamps
Part I: Attaching the Rails
Clean the truck bed before starting the tonneau cover installation process. It is advisable to have someone to help you. Some steps may need more than one person to carry out successfully. However, you can still do the installation by yourself if the cover is not the hinged type. Open the tailgate too, before commencing installation. A closed one can hamper the process.
Ascertain compatibility. Some parts such as truck bed liners may not be compatible with your type of tonneau cover. If the bed liner comes in the way to make installation difficult, cut into it to create space for the clamps or other tonneau cover fasteners. For some bed liners or caps, you may be unable to install an incompatible cover.
Place the side rail on the truck bed liner and have your helper hold it in place. Alternatively, you can use the spring clamps we indicated earlier. Some covers may not come with side rails and instead use clamps.
If installing a retractable tonneau cover, position it first. Make sure it is properly centered before attaching the rails. Once finished with positioning the canister that houses the retractable cover, go to the next step.
Attach the clamps that came with the cover. They will be teethed clamps that you need to attach underneath the side rails. Start with one clamp and fasten it to the end of the rail. Tighten it with the hand at first, ensuring the teeth and grooved are aligned. Next, tighten it more using a socket wrench until you feel it apply pressure on the truck bed rail.
Do the same to the rest of the clamps, following the same procedure as that of the first clamp. Different truck bed sizes will require different numbers of these clamps. Position the opposite side rail using the same procedure. The two rails should be parallel to each other.
The rails should also be flush with the truck bed rails and straight up. If not, unfasten the clamps and correct their position.
Once you are satisfied with the position and orientation of the rails, use the socket wrench to tighten the clamps to full torque. The first part of the installation is now complete.
Part II: Installing the Different Components
With the rails in place, the next part of the process involves attaching the various parts that come before the cover. Here are the steps to follow.
You may need to install a rubber seal if your cover came with one. This is meant to provide weather protection. Prepare its installation surface by wiping it down with a piece of cloth soaked with rubbing alcohol.
Next, stick the seal and cut the extra part with a pair of scissors. Some tonneau covers come with a seal for the several other parts. Install those also if yours does.
Depending on your type of tonneau cover, there may need to install a few components after the rubber seal. These include tension screws, storage straps, and prop rods.
These parts usually do not require much work to attach. Some are snap-in components while others are screwed into the side rails.
Part III: Installing the Cover
This is where you may need a helping hand. If you are installing a hard and hinged tonneau cover, it may be too large and heavy to work on alone. Folding, roll-up, or retracting covers should not be difficult to install, even without anyone to assist. Here are the steps to attach the cover to the truck.
Place the tonneau cover on the rails. It should fit snugly. If it does not, remove it and adjust the position of the rail, taking into consideration what cause the cover not to fit.
Once it fits, continue with the installation process. Unfold the cover all the way to the end and close the tailgate.
Adjust the cover until it is flush with the parts at both ends, that is, the tailgate and cab end.
Using the screws on the rail, tension the cover to the most appropriate tightness, not too taut and not too lax.
Some covers come with bolts to fasten them on the rails. If yours does, fasten the bolts into the rail. Others use clamps or levers. If working with a cover of that type, use the levers or braces to fasten the cover onto the truck bed. It is usually as simple as lowering the lever arms.
Confirm that every screw, bolt, or clamp is tightened.
Confirm that all components such as prop rods, storage straps, and others are installed and firmly fixed.
Attach the remaining parts. The depend on the type of tonneau cover and include tubes to drain rainwater or stops to absorb impacts and protect the bulkhead of the truck bed from damage.
If, for any reason, you are unable to continue with the installation steps, it is advisable to find a professional for assistance.
This can be when the cover comes with components whose installation method is different from what is explained here.
It can also be that a part remained and you cannot tell where or how it is supposed to be installed.
Alternatively, you can contact the tonneau cover manufacturer for advice concerning a component that came with the cover.