How To Install A Tonneau Cover – Step by Step Complete Guide

If you are here, chances are you need help with covering your truck bed with some Tonneau cover. We’re also going to go ahead and assume that you know about the advantages of using a cover for your truck bed. It may seem overly technical, and something that you cannot do on your own but hear us out.

There’s nothing too hard about this process, so do yourself a favor and try and do it yourself. Not only will it boost your confidence, but you’re also going to be saving on some precious bucks. So read on to learn how to install a Tonneau cover the right way!

tonneau cover important
Tonneau cover important

Why is a Tonneau cover important?

A pickup truck or open back truck/car is a big investment. To reap the optimal benefits of your vehicle, it is important that you upgrade it with certain equipment that will protect the body of the vehicle as well. This makes for a good return on investment in the long run.

Also, you need to be able to utilize the space that you have on hand. It would be unfortunate if you have to give up that extra space in your truck for fear of a little rain ruining your cargo. Luckily, there is a quick and easy solution i.e., installing a Tonneau cover. The following section goes more in details regarding the advantages of installing a Tonneau cover.

Advantages of Tonneau Covers

Safety and Security

As aforementioned, a tonneau cover works great when it comes to keeping your cargo safe. Since it covers the open back of your truck, it prevents your cargo/belongings from being exposed to potential dangers. Most items can be taken pretty easily if left lying in the open. Having a tonneau cover in place prevents this risk of theft and keeps the items from getting displaced. Some covers also come with locks that you can set in place to add another layer of security.

Advantages tonneau cover
Advantages tonneau cover

Fuel Efficiency

This may seem a little out there, but installing a tonneau cover can give your vehicle more aerodynamic or streamlined body. Whether it is a softcover or a hard one, it has the same effect. This reduces the air resistance acting on your car, hence making for more efficient gas mileage and can allow you to save up to 10 % in terms of fuel.

Weather Resistance

In addition to protecting cargo, a tonneau cover also protect the truck bed of your vehicles from intense weather conditions i.e., heavy rain/storms, etc. Therefore it is a good investment even if you are not planning on lugging around any cargo in the truck bed.

Value Addition To Your Vehicle

As mentioned above, a tonneau cover protects your truck in a variety of different ways. Naturally, this prolongs the life of the vehicle in the long run. Having invested in something like this, it is best that you make every possible effort to maintain. Luckily, this is easy enough as you can take some small measures and make upgrades like this one now and again.

How to Install a Tonneau Cover

Section 1 – Laying Down the Cover Rails

Check for Compatibility

Before you start with any other steps, it is recommended that you check to see if the cover rails are compatible with the other parts of your truck bed.

Laying Down the cover rails
Laying Down the cover rails

Certain components such as bed rail caps and bed liners can be incompatible with certain cover. To check for these incompatibilities, it is best to check with a manufacturer in the first place.

Additionally, if you want to know how to install a tonneau cover with bed liner, you can follow some of the steps given below.

Firstly, if you notice the bed liner getting in the way while installing the cover, you can make some adjustments to make room for components such as clamp fittings, etc.

Secondly, you can do some research and get a bed rail cap that will fit snugly over the entirety of your truck bed.

Next up, open your tailgate, and it will allow more room for installing the cover rails.

Tonneau covers typically come with a couple of side rails that can be fitted on either side of the truck bed. Hold the side rails in a place where you would like them to be installed.

This above step is important for getting a good perspective on the positioning of the cover rails before a permanent fitting.

Then, you can clamp those side rails in place. If you have an installation kit, it should ideally come with some toothed clamps.

Take a toothed clamp and attach it to the bottom of the side rail. Make sure the side rail is in line with the cab of the truck bed.

Once the clamp is in place, align it in place with grooves and tighten the clamp using a hand wrench until it just presses against the bed rail of the truck.

If you notice a gap between the rail and truck, use shims to cover the gap by lining them up in that space.

In your installation kit, you will most likely have about eight or so clamps. If needed, feel free to add additional clamps to secure the cover rail in place.

Space the clamps evenly to achieve sound structural integrity for the rail. This is easy enough if you are going to be using a soft tonneau cover over these rails. However, for hardcovers, it is best to skip these additional clamps because they are semi-permanent. If they are not needed, you will end up over clamping your rails.

Repeat all the steps given for the other rail, and you should be good to go.

Once you are done, give both side rails a once over to ensure that they are perfectly parallel because a tonneau cover will not fit over crooked rails.

Feel free to take some time at this stage to ensure that the side rails lay flat and centered before moving on to the next part of the installation process.

Finally, when you are happy with how the rails look, go ahead and tighten the clamps fully to set the whole system in place.

Read Also: Roll-up VS Tri-fold tonneau cover

Section 2 – Installing the Tonneau Cover

Now coming towards the actual installation process. Firstly, you will want to check to rubber seals in your installation kit. If you have them, go ahead and install them first. These come in handy in sealing the cover over the side rails and making the cover fully weather resistant.

Installing the Tonneau Cover
Installing the Tonneau Cover

Additionally, you may find some other components in your installation kit. Of course, these can vary depending on your kit. However, it is better to install these first before moving on to the cover itself. These may include storage straps, tension adjuster screws, and hard folded and hinged covers.

Now bring a couple of people along and place the tonneau cover over the side rails. Make sure that the cover fits completely over the rails and lays perfectly centered. Having some extra help is recommended because hardcovers are heavier and harder to handle, whereas soft covers are easier to handle if there are a few extra helping hands.

Once you are satisfied with the placement of your cover, unroll the entire length of it till it reaches the tailgate. Use a screw to hold and fix the cover taut over the rails.

Depending on the type of cover you use, at this stage, the cover may have already been fitted into place over the side rails while being unfolded.

If that doesn’t happen, use bolts to install the cover on the rails firmly. Most kits come with heavy-duty bolts for this purpose. Make sure that the bolts are aligned properly with each other.

Now, as with the side rails, you can tighten the clamp finally when you are happy with the layout of the cover.

Now for the last and final step. Some covers come with even more components that you can install at your ease.

These components upgrade the tonneau cover for added protection and efficiency.

They include drainage tubes and bump stops, etc. If these items are not included in your installation kit and you would like to have them installed, you can contact the manufacturer. They can help you out with the installation process as well.


By now you can generously appreciate the benefits of a tonneau cover and why you need to install one. As aforementioned, there is a bunch of different ways that you can go about this process. Taking some guidance from the instructions above, you will be able to install a cover in no time, and the effort will be well worth it.

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