What is a Tonneau Cover and Why Invest in One?

A tonneau cover is an important accessory for any pickup truck. Find out what it is and why you should consider adding one to your vehicle.

A Dodge RAM tonneau cover, one of the different types of the cover
A Dodge RAM tonneau cover, one of the different types of the cover
Resource: https://www.ramforumz.com

A tonneau cover is the perfect way to cover your truck and protect cargo, among several other benefits. It easily attaches to the truck bed and come in a variety of materials and designs. Some styles even have a lock included, so they’ll not open until you release the lock. Here is more about this vehicle accessory; the truck bed tonneau cover.

What is a Tonneau Cover?

If you’re wondering about the tonneau cover meaning, here is what it is: A tonneau cover is a type of enclosure that sits on a truck bed, covering the entire surface from side to side. The cover helps keep your truck bed (and the items inside it) protected from debris and the elements.

Truck bed tonneau covers come in many different colors and styles to match the look you want for your pickup truck. Their sleek design is created specifically for trucks, which means you get an aesthetically pleasing look. There’s even evidence that a tonneau can help improve a truck’s gas mileage by directing airflow!

The different tonneau cover styles include roll up, folding, retractable, and tilting (hinged) designs. Truck bed covers are also built in different sizes depending on the kind of truck they’re meant for. Being an add-on, the tonneau cover is an aftermarket car part- and quite popular with truck owners.

Why Is It Called a Tonneau Cover?

The tonneau cover for truck beds derives its unique name from the French word “tonneau”, which essentially means a barrel. In the early days, the term was used to refer to an open, rear passenger compartment. A general practice at that time was to place a cover over the “tonneau” as protection or for privacy.

Later, the phrase “tonneau cover” was adopted across the automotive world to mean a type of cover that car racers placed on the passenger seat to reduce drag. In the modern world, the tonneau cover, pronounced tä-ˌnō, is a special bed cover that truck owners install on their vehicles.

Truck tonneau covers today are designed give a sporty look to your pickup truck and can protect expensive cargo from water, dirt, snow and thieves. Some come with toolboxes that attach to the cab of your truck, compartments to store items out of the view of curious eyes, or even racks for large goods.

Tonneau cover clamps (for attaching the cover to the truck bed)
Tonneau cover clamps (for attaching the cover to the truck bed)
Resource: https://www.tacomaworld.com

Tonneau Cover Parts and Materials

A truck tonneau cover is meant to stretch (or go over) the bed of a truck. It attaches to the truck bed sides with clamps or other fasteners, and may require holes to be drilled for installation. A typical cover assembly is a piece of material, which either soft or hard, equipped with various pieces to support or make it usable.

Different tonneau cover parts either reinforce the cover or attach it to the truck bed. Locks make the cover more secure, while storage compartments add to the cover’s versatility. There are also different material options available for you to choose. The type tonneau cover material determines many things such as the cover’s cost, lifespan, and look.

Tonneau Cover Parts List

The parts of a tonneau cover include those that make the cover itself, fasteners, retracting mechanisms, and accessories such as locks and storage spaces. Some make essential sections of the cover, while others are added to improve usability and other features. Apart from the main material, below is a list of other major tonneau cover parts.

  • Tonneau cover rails
  • Tonneau cover clamps
  • Tonneau cover locks
  • Tonneau cover shocks
  • Tonneau cover seals
  • Tonneau cover sliding

The tonneau cover bed rails support the cover and ensure its proper alignment and movement when opening and closing. The tonneau cover rail clamps attach the cover to the truck bed. Locks, on the other hand, help to secure truck bed by preventing unauthorized persons from opening it.

Tonneau cover shocks cushion the cover so it safely moves up and down. Seals serve to weatherproof the installation, sliding the smooth motion of the moving parts in some types of the cover.

Tonneau Cover Material

What are tonneau covers made of? Manufacturers use different materials depending on several factors such as cost, required look, lifespan, and so on. Some tonneau cover materials make light covers that are also affordable, while others make heavy-duty tonneau covers that can withstand tough conditions or large weights. Common materials for a tonneau cover are listed below.

  • Vinyl
  • Hard plastic
  • Canvas
  • Aluminum
A new Toyota tundra tonneau cover
A new Toyota tundra tonneau cover
Resource: https://www.tundras.com

How much is a Tonneau Cover?

Tonneau covers cost anywhere from around $100 up to as high as $2000 depending on the brand and features available. Standard covers are usually cheaper, while color-matched styles that require extensive custom work cost more. Powered mechanisms, built-in locks and storage compartments also add to the tonneau cover cost.

Other factors that affect the price of tonneau covers include design (snap on, folding, rolling) and brand. Snap on types are among the cheapest, while hard covers with locks are the most expensive. You will also find that different tonneau cover brands do not cost similar amounts.

For truck owners looking to buy tonneau covers, it is important to pick out something that offers both convenience and security but that perfectly fits your budget. A hard folding cover is always a good option for security, but will always cost more. Soft folding or snap on covers offer a more lightweight and affordable option.

Here’s a breakdown of the range of tonneau cover prices.

  • Lowest price tonneau cover- $100 to$500
  • Mid price tonneau covers- $500 to $1000
  • Higher priced tonneau covers- $1000 to $2000
  • Most expensive tonneau covers- Over $2000


A truck bed tonneau cover is a good addition for any truck. It adds both security and convenience. With one of these covers in place, you never have to worry about the wind catching your cargo in the back of your pickup truck or leaving it exposed to theft. You can also add extra features like a locking box or rack, among others. To sum it up, it’s easy to find a tonneau cover that suits your vehicle, no matter what style you prefer.

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