You’ve just purchased a tonneau cover to better outfit your truck. Now comes the next step- getting it set up. When we install a truck accessory, there are a few key goals to keep in mind. First, we want the job done right. Follow the instructions and take all the necessary time to avoid trouble down the road.
Secondly, we want to make sure that the accessory and our vehicle are comfortable and compatible. Take the extra few minutes to make sure that sides are flush along the edges, and that the piece works for its stated purpose. Lastly, we want to be certain of our thoroughness by testing the products together.
So, now that you have set aside some time for the install, let’s figure out the first steps.
Pictures and Inventory
Have you taken pictures of the new product? Made sure that everything is as it should be? Great, then onto the next step.
Cleaning the Area
Wipe down the truck bed and the cover from any unwanted debris. Take a gander at the instructions that came with your tonneau cover. Double check that you have all the tools and parts to make this experience breezy and fun.
Enlist a Friend
If the product proves too heavy, outsource some of the labor to a friend (lifting is much easier with two people).
Instruction Guided Setup
Once this is all taken care of, follow the instructions in the manual. That said, there are some fairly straightforward rules of thumb that make this task a breeze.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Open the Gate
Open your truck’s tailgate and leave it down over the course of the installation. It will do little other than interfere.
Next, align the first side rail with the truck bed’s railing. Make sure that it is flush with the side.
Most often, tonneau covers come with a clamp setup (as opposed to requiring drilling). Great news- this makes install simple and leave a sleek appearance. Take the clamp and affix it to the side of the cab.
Keep the connection to the rail taut at all times. Using a wrench, tense the connection until there is no slack left on the rail.
Use a Helper
The tricky part (for most home installations), is setting up the rail on the other side of the truck. Since such effort went into tensing the connection on one side, there is no initial slack on the other end. Nonetheless, repeat the process as best as possible. Use extra elbow-grease when you attach the other side of the rail.
The tonneau cover should appear symmetrical, with no protrusions or abutting areas. Usually, these parts are specific to the truck bed type. Provided you purchased a cover that matches your vehicle’s needs, the product should look aesthetically pleasing once it is in place.
SIDENOTES ON INSTALLATION
Unfortunately, material warps and mass production is far from perfect. If you find that there are distortions in the shape; that there are spaces between the bed cover and the bed itself, don’t worry, there is an easy fix to this problem, and it is the next step in our installation.
Since you have an at-home mechanical setup, chances are you also have a few shims lying around. These handy tools are useful to accommodate space which, for lack of a better phrase, should not be there. Use these brackets to fix any problems and prevent the tonneau cover from elevating past the truck bed.
VALUE THE SHIMS
Take extra care with this step. Vehicles are designed for fast travel; so, once your truck reaches freeway speeds, the last thing you want is air to get underneath and act as lift. In effect, the aerodynamic movement which we are trying to avoid is the same force that keeps planes in the air.
If it is powerful enough to lift a cargo plane, it is powerful enough to compromise your tonneau cover. Use shim clamps in the proper places and this will not be a worry.
ENSURE A TIGHT FIT
The next step is also a safety feature by its nature. Most cover setups come with extra clamps. While you could use these tools as replacement parts down the line, it is generally better to place them onto the cover right off the hop.
The more clamps, the more surface tension is absorbed and kept off the cover itself. Space them evenly throughout for best results. Once these are in place, and you’ve finished with the frame for the cover and you can move on to the last steps.
PLACING THE COVER
It is time to place the cover itself onto the frame. First check for odd parts; pieces that need to weave through like straps, or weather stripping that we must do first. Account for all of these moving parts. Place the weather seal down and affix any necessary parts before the next step.
Now that you have done the preparation, it is time to actually place the tonneau cover. Line up the cover so it is flush with the rails which you installed. Sometimes these covers can be quite heavy. Get help lifting these pieces from a friend to ensure a quality installation.
Whether the setup is hard and folding or softer and rolling, it is imperative that there are no protrusions. This is the most challenging part of the setup, but fret not, we are on the home stretch.
Once this piece is down and you are certain it is properly placed, smile, breathe, and lift the tailgate. Assuming everything went according to plan, the tailgate should slot in perfectly. Though it will likely not seal perfectly, there should be no apparent warps or holes in the enclosure. Take a step back and do a check of the entire setup. There are only small steps remaining (small, but important).
Check for extra pieces- there should be none. If you find extra clamps or bolts, use them (provided the spacing is correct). The more support there is for the cover, the less vulnerable it is to surface tension-related damage. Now, proceed to tighten all of the clamps. As we moved around the cover during setup, there was slack added to these features. A simple tightening will rectify this problem.
BACK ON THE ROAD
Congratulations, your tonneau cover is now affixed to your truck. Wise vehicular operators take the tool out for a test run. Drive slowly at first to adjust for tension. Slowly bring the vehicle up to highway speeds. Do this before you place items beneath the cover, just for good measure.
When you return, repeat the tightening process on all the clamps. You can now rest easy knowing that you installed your tonneau cover correctly since it is done by a set of hands you can truly trust- your own.