So are tonneau covers universal? The truth is they are not. While you may find some tonneau covers that are interchangeable, it will probably just be a coincidence.
For instance, my friend and I once took tonneau covers from a Chevy Colorado and installed them on a Jeep Gladiator. They seemed to fit perfectly.
We then tried a tonneau cover from a 2018 Chevy Silverado on a 2019 Chevy Silverado’s truck bed, and it wouldn’t fit. This was evidence enough for us that tonneau covers are not interchangeable. This is especially true for vehicles with uniquely shaped truck beds like the Avalanch or Honda Ridgeline. These need very specific tonneau covers.
Tonneau Cover Basics
Before we dive more into the issue of whether tonneau covers are universal, first, let’s take a look at some tonneau cover basics.
Why are they so popular, and why should you bother? There are lots of reasons why people install tonneau covers on their vehicles. It might seem like it’s all for the aesthetics, which sometimes it is, but tonneau covers also come with several other benefits apart from looks.
Tonneau covers will protect your cargo from the elements and from would-be thieves as well. Apart from that, they protect your truck’s bed from damage.
Experts also suggest that tonneau covers are great for improving your truck’s aerodynamics, which in turn reduces drag and helps you save gas.
You will also find that tonneau covers are quite practical as a cargo management system. There are some unique designs that are great for compartmentalizing your truck bed.
Because there are lots of different types across a wide range of price points, buying the right tonneau cover for your truck is crucial, and it’s an investment that requires a little research.
Can I Buy Just Any Tonneau Cover?
The short answer is no. You can’t just buy the first tonneau cover you see and expect it to be a perfect fit for your vehicle. Tonneau covers are designed specifically for particular trucks.
This means each cover has different dimensions and will only fit on the truck it was made for unless the trucks in question have the same exact measurements or measurements that are close enough to allow you to interchange the covers. Understandably, trucks are not created equal. They differ in size and dimensions.
The good news is that there are lots of third-party manufacturers that design tonneau covers for different makes and models of trucks. This means you will be able to find a cover that fits perfectly on your vehicle. For instance, if you own a 2013 Ford F-150, there will be a tonneau cover made specifically for that car.
So, while tonneau covers are not interchangeable, if you take your time to find the right one, the cover will be universal to the particular model, make, and year of your vehicle. This is why you need to know the exact specs of your vehicle when you are shopping for a tonneau cover.
How to Find the Perfect Fit
Because tonneau covers are not universal, it’s crucial to know how to find one that will fit your truck perfectly. Buying a tonneau cover requires careful consideration.
The first thing you might need to figure out is how much you are willing to spend. Once you have a budget, you should also think about the level of security you want.
Other things to consider are the amount of space you’re willing to sacrifice in your truck bed and the exact reason why you are considering a tonneau cover to start with.
As you are trying to find a tonneau cover that will fit your vehicle perfectly, it’s important to consider things like quality and durability. You should also think about user-friendliness, styling, and ease of application.
If you’re in an area with harsh weather, it’s also important to be on the lookout for covers that offer some weatherproofing. In general, you should know exactly what you are looking for and why. This is because different covers are meant for different purposes.
Getting Truck Bed Measurements for a Tonneau Cover
The best way to get the right tonneau cover is to measure your truck bed. All you need to complete this task is a measuring tape that’s at least eight to 10 feet long. You may also need somewhere to store the measurements.
The notes app on your phone is a good place. Once you have somewhere to write and a tape measure, start by lowering the tailgate of your truck.
Standing behind the truck, extend the measuring tape along the truck bed’s floor until it reaches the bulkhead wall. Take measurements up to where the floor ends. There is usually a gap in this area.
To convert your measurement to inches, divide the number you get by 12. Tonneau covers are usually listed in inches, so it makes sense to know the dimensions of your truck’s bed in inches as well.
The number you get should be within a few inches of the actual figure. Fortunately, you don’t need an exact measurement when you are shopping for a tonneau.
The majority of manufacturers standardize their tonneau cover sizes to fit a particular make and model, so the measurement is just to verify.
How Else Can You Check the Length of Your Truck Bed?
If you don’t have a tape measure, another way to get the length of your truck’s bed is to look up the model and year. Your car manufacturer’s website should have the exact measurements of everything on it.
If you are buying a tonneau cover online, some websites will allow you to enter your truck model, the make, and the year. The website will then show you the different types of tonneau covers that are available for your truck.
What Else Should You Consider When Trying to Figure Out the Right Tonneau Size?
Once you are done taking measurements, there are some other things that you need to consider before you choose a tonneau cover. It’s important to take your time figuring things out so you won’t end up with a cover that doesn’t fit.
One other thing you need to consider is if your truck has after-market accessories. Some after-market accessories may require you to choose a cover different from other similar models and makes.
For example, if you own a Ram truck and you also have a RamBox, you will definitely need a tonneau cover that’s built exactly for that.
Another example is the Cargo Management System for Sierra owners or the Deck Rail System if you have a Tundra. It’s important to consider your accessories when you are choosing your tonneau cover.
Why is Getting the Right Fit Important When Getting a Tonneau Cover?
Getting the right fit for your tonneau cover is crucial if you want to get the most out of the cover. If the cover is too small and it leaves gaps, your cargo may not be fully protected from the elements and from thieves.
Is the Tonneau Cover Worthwhile?
There are several reasons why you should invest in a tonneau cover. The first reason is that the cover boosts the appearance of the truck. Apart from that, it also adds some security and improves the aerodynamics of the truck, which improves gas mileage.
With a tonneau cover on your vehicle, you will be able to carry out various tasks even when it’s raining. If your truck bed has suffered significant wear and tear, you may be able to improve the look of your truck with a tonneau cover.
Is it Difficult to Install a Tonneau Cover?
Fortunately, even though tonneau covers are designed to handle tough conditions, they are quite easy to install. Your cover should come with some very easy-to-follow installation instructions. It shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to figure out how to install the cover you would have purchased.