How to Install a Tonneau Cover: A Guide to Truck Bed Cover Installations

There are different methods of installing tonneau covers. The specific method depends, of course, on the model of tonneau you have. Here are some examples of methods:

  • Simply fit the cover into your truck bed;
  • Drill holes into the bed so that the cover can slot nicely inside;
  • Use wrenches and other tools so that the cover can fit.

In this guide, we’ll explain a method that can be used to install most tonneau covers.

1- Read the user guide first.

  • The instruction manual comes included with the package.

Be sure to check the user guide that came with your cover. You don’t want to mess up by making an avoidable mistake, after all. It will tell you the tools you may need, inform you whether or not you need a friend to help you out, and give you an idea of how long installation will take.

2- If applicable, attach cover’s rails to the bed of your truck.

  • If it’s an over-the-bed liner, you might have to cut into it.

Not everyone tonneau cover has rails; some of them don’t have frames (soft covers, for example). However—for those that do have rails—you’ll have to attach the rails to your truck bed. This is fine for under-the-bed liners. But in the case of over-the-bed liners, the installation guide might require that you cut notches into it. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions if that’s the case.

3- Align the rails together and tighten the mounting hardware accordingly.

  • The mounting hardware may or may not be included in the package.
  • If it’s not, be sure to purchase the right pieces, as indicated in the guide.

Aligning the rails is necessary so that you can proceed onto the second half of this step: tightening all the mounting hardware. Ensure that they’ve been aligned so that they’re as perfectly parallel as possible. Once you’re done tightening, make sure that the hardware is done up tightly enough so that it won’t come loose.

4- Install the accessories that may have been included.

  • These include seals—both tailgate seals and cab-side seals.

The package may have included tailgate or cab-side seals to hold the cover together and keep everything in place. If your package does indeed have these things, now’s the time to attach them inside your cover. Follow the directions carefully.

5- Place the top above of the rails.

  • Be gentle in doing this, as you don’t want to hurt yourself.
  • The cover should be positioned evenly, and not crooked.

Gently place the top of the cover onto the rails. Remember: the cover should be sitting evenly on top of the your truck bed. If it’s not sitting evenly, then you’ll have to go back and adjust the way you’ve aligned the rails.

6- Look out for any problems in the sealing surfaces.

  • These include bulging or gaps which are clearly visible.

Are there any bulges or gaps which shouldn’t be there? If that’s the case—or if the cover isn’t positioned straight on top of the gasket in a way that doesn’t compress the latter—you’ll have to adjust the rails again. You might have to keep modifying the rails’ position, so that’s something you’ll definitely need to take into account.

7- If drainage tubes were included, connect and reroute them.

  • They must be rerouted to the corners of the bed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Drainage tubes don’t come with every tonneau cover, but, when they do, they can be a real pain to install. You’ll have to connect them, as well as reroute them so that they go into the corners of your truck bed. If you’re having trouble, you can always ask a buddy for help; two heads, as the saying goes, work better than one.

That was the last step (unless the guide indicates otherwise), so now you have an awesome new cover installed in your truck bed. Amazing! Go out and have some fun on the road ahead.

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