Is it Safe to Take a Tonneau Cover Through a Car Wash?

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It is safe to go through a car wash with a tonneau cover as long as it’s in good condition and closed properly.

Going through a car wash with a tonneau cover is definitely something you want to be cautious about because there is a risk of damaging your truck or possibly damaging the car wash equipment. Read the signs before entering a car wash; many will specify that it is not safe for aftermarket products such as spoilers. 

There are a few things to consider before taking a tonneau cover through a car wash; the style, quality, and how well it was installed. Taking all that into consideration from my research, I found that tonneau covers can go through a car wash without being damaged or damaging anything else in most cases.

This video shows that nothing really happens when he takes his tonneau cover through a car wash.

In general, there are two types of covers for covering your truck bed. The benefit is you can keep thieves out and keep belongings in, and protect them from damaging sunlight, rain and snow. Choosing the right cover depends on your needs, budget, and style preference.

Soft Tonneau Covers

They are weather-resistant, however, moisture can get through them because some rely on velcro to hold them in place. Soft tonneau covers can’t handle as much pressure as hardcovers and are more likely to let moisture seep inside.

However, soft tonneau covers are safe for automatic car washes. Even though they are safe for car washes, I would inspect the cover to be sure it’s fully attached and in good shape before entering some people go with a softcover because of the luxury of easy removal when the bed is needed for larger items.

Hard Tonneau Covers

They are generally made of fibreglass and therefore are very rigid compared to their soft counterparts. Hardcovers are more expensive than softcovers and typically last longer as well.

They offer more security from thieves because they’re harder to get through and are easier to lock up. They also block moisture more effectively because of the way it fits on the truck.

In the long run, hard tonneau covers increase the value of your truck. If you’re big on style then you’ll be happy to know that hard covers have more options too.

If you need more information on types of tonneau covers, I wrote an article called “What is the best tonneau cover for your money?”  that will help you make an informed decision. 

Types of Car Washes

It’s well known that a hand car wash is the best option when available or if you have the time to do it yourself and would be the safest option for your truck and the tonneau cover. But, when you don’t have time or the ability to hand wash the other options are;

Soft cloth or soft touch car washes

Soft cloth does almost as good as a job as hand washing but still doesn’t seem to be quite as good. The downside to soft cloth is you never know if the last car that went through was covered in rust, mud or sand and ended up leaving some of it on the cloth which might scratch your paint on your truck and your tonneau cover.

The fact that there is contact between the cloth and your truck is a risk altogether. The cloth hits your truck quite hard and produces a fair amount of friction to scrub and clean the surface. The amount of friction might damage your soft tonneau cover over time.

I strongly recommend checking with the manufacturer to ensure they say that their product can withstand the pressures of regular car washes.

No touch or touchless car washes

You just got off a 12 hour day of work and your truck is filthy and you just don’t have the energy or time to hand wash it. Then a no-touch car wash is the safest alternative for you, but is it safe to take a tonneau cover through a car wash?

No-touch car washes do not use brushes or cloth, they use high-pressure jets to spray soap and water onto your truck so there is less risk of scratching anything. Unfortunately, you compromise quality for safety because without actual contact no touch washes are less effective.

Because the jets spray horizontally they hit the tonneau cover from the side unlike how rain only comes down on top of it. So, it’s vitally important to make sure your tonneau cover is secured properly, and even if you do, you might still end up letting water by and into your box possibly water damaging anything you are hauling at the time.

Do not choose the wax option

We all love our trucks and want to give them the best of the best, however, this could damage your tonneau cover. The waxes might interfere with the mechanisms for a rolling or retractable tonneau cover. Taking a soft tonneau cover through a car wash too often might cause it to become stiff and weaken over time as the wax builds up.

How to clean a tonneau cover

This video is a great demonstration of how to best clean your cover

Is it, or is it not safe to take a tonneau cover through a car wash?

As I always say – Do your due diligence and contact the manufacture to get their word. Even after doing that makes sure to take into account all the elements at play and make an informed decision before going through a car wash with a tonneau cover.

If your tonneau cover is aged and or has some damage already it might be best to take it off before entering the wash, and if you do that you can then get the ultimate wash and get some protecting wax for your beloved truck.

There is a lot to take into consideration with all the types of bed covers and car washes. Really, if you’re still unsure it might be best to just avoid car washes altogether until you’re confident that no damage will occur when you take your tonneau cover through a car wash.

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