The Expert’s Guide to Installing Your Mesa Tonneau Cover
Tonneau covers are without a doubt one of the most popular aftermarket parts for trucks in the US, today. Aside from protecting your truck bed, its contents, possibly improving your fuel efficiency, they also make your truck look sleek and modern.
While most shops that sell tonneau -or truck bed- covers also offer installs, sometimes you may want or need to do a cover install yourself. While we always advise that tonneau covers should be installed by professionals, it is possible to do it yourself. However, we recommend that you don’t do it on your own. Enlist your partner, girlfriend or buddy to help you with this, as some tonneau covers can be quite heavy and bulky and having an extra set of hands is a definite bonus.
Here are some great tips and consideration that will help you to make your DIY tonneau cover install a success:
The tonneau cover you purchased and are planning to install probably falls into one of the following categories: temporary, semi-permanent, retractable or hinged-lid cover. Your installation instructions will vary based on what cover you have selected.
Let’s take a look at the installation part by cover type.
The great thing about temporary tonneau covers is that they generally do not require any tools for the install, instead they attach to your truck bed with clamps or latches. This makes them really easy and fast to install.
This type of cover installation you could probably attempt on your own. Simply take your temporary cover out of the box, read the provided instructions(you know you always do), make sure you didn’t leave any pertinent parts in the box and center the cover on your truck bed. Push it back towards the cab as far as possible without closing the gap between bed and cab. After you properly aligned your tonneau cover, reach underneath at the farthest corner of your truck bed and cover, and grab the clamp or latch, then pull them under the truck bed rail lip and make sure the clamp or latch is tight and secure. To get the best fit, you may have to pump or twist the mechanism. Repeat this process on the other side of your truck bed.
Depending on what type of cover you have, you now unroll or unfold it all the way to cover the entire length of your bed. If you have not opened your tailgate yet, do it now, then reach under the cover and attach the remaining two latches the same way you did the others. Close the tailgate and check if the cover is secure and tightly covering your truck bed. In case you see any slack or overlapping, adjust your cover as needed. Enjoy your temporary cover!
Semi-Permanent Bed Covers
The BakFlip G2, for example, is what we call a semi-permanent hinged cover. After you took out the cover, the instructions and the provided materials from the box, you can begin your install. While it is an easy enough process, you still will need some tools to complete it.
First you need to determine if you need to attach shims, which are small rubber or plastic pieces that rest against the clamps for perfect sizing. If you need them, install them, if not, just place the cover rails on your truck bed rails and match them up with your clamps. Once you have everything in place and properly aligned, fasten the connectors and bolts and make sure it is tight and secure.
Now put your semi-permanent cover on top of the rails, it should fit smoothly. Close the tailgate, unfold/roll the hard bed cover all the way and make sure that it fits well and that all locking mechanisms are in the right positions.
We encourage you to open the cover all the way and to secure it according to manufacturer’s recommendation and to check everything for safety again. If you have any bumpers, drains or other parts to install, do it now, then give it one final check to make sure everything is safe.
Retractable Tonneau Cover
This type of cover installs pretty much the same way the semi-permanent covers do. The main difference is that the cover is in a canister and then has to be fed into the rails.
As with the other two covers, open the box, locate instructions, cover and hardware and make sure everything is complete.
Start by putting the rolling cover canister as far back on your truck bed as you can and make sure it is centered properly, check to determine if you have to seal the gap between the cab and bed before feeding in the canister.
Now put down the rails on your bed rails and attach the to the canister. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction and slide the clamps down the rails (under the cover) until they are in the correct positions. Once they are in position secure them with bolts. Now check if the measurements add up and if the rail span is the right size. If not, adjust as needed with the help of shims. Tighten and secure the bolts, make sure to tile the rail up while you do this.
Now you are ready to install whatever is left: canisters, tubes, and electrical components. When in doubt, contact your local Mesa tonneau cover shop for help and further instructions.
Now give it a test run and if everything works fine, you are done, enjoy your retractable tonneau cover, if you experience some issues, revisit the installation steps and adjust as needed.
Hinged Lid Covers
The UnderCover Classic is a great example of a hinged lid solid cover that opens with shocks on the inside of the truck bed.
After you repeat the above steps of unboxing, hardware assessment and study of the user guide, you are ready to get started.
You will definitely need the help of more people to lift the hard, solid, and heavy cover out of the box and onto your truck.
Start by wiping down the bottom of your cover and the bed rail with alcohol, then apply the rail tape on the bottom part of your cover (that part that will be in contact with the rail) and carefully place the cover on your truck and make sure it is flush on all sides. You should check the tailgate and make sure it opens and closes without any issues or obstructions.
Now climb in the truck bed and check out your new cargo space. Oh, and while you are in there, go ahead and attached and tighten the provided C-clamps and secure the inner rail of your cover against the rail of your truck bed.
Open your cover with help of your friends and attach the included shocks to the indicated places on your cover, tighten and check everything and install batteries or other needed accessories and give it a test run. Don’t forget to check the locking mechanism.
Truck Access Plus has been providing tonneau cover installs to the greater Phoenix Metro area for years and we are able to install most covers the same day. If you enjoy doing things yourself, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s’ instructions as to not void the warranty to to get the most out of your new tonneau cover.
To learn more about our products and services contact us today. We are always happy to help.