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Can You Go Through a Car Wash with a Tonneau Cover? – [Both Yes, and No]

If your truck starts to get dirty it is necessary to clean it. If you don’t want to do the clean-up job by yourself then the best option is to opt for a car wash.

That being said, can you go through a car wash with a tonneau cover?

Yes, you can take your truck through a car wash with your tonneau cover on but there are certain factors that you have to consider before you can do that.

In this guide, I will go through all of them and at the end of this article you will understand whether you can take your truck with a tonneau cover through a car wash or not.


Why Car Washes Can Be Bad for a Tonneau Cover?

When your car goes through a car wash multiple things happen at the same time. The car gets sprayed with pressurized water from various angles, soaps & brushes come down and start cleaning.

Afterward, the dryer fans start to take care of the moisture, and many more. All of these can negatively affect your tonneau cover. Let’s take a look at how:

Pressurized Water: The pressurized water can enter your truck bed and can cause damage to the underside. This only occurs if your tonneau cover isn’t properly placed.

If your tonneau cover is recently colored, then this can also ruin the texture and glossiness.

Spinning Brushes: For tonneau covers, the worst thing in car washes is the spinning brushes. This is due to the fact that friction created from these brushes can heavily damage vulnerable & soft tonneau covers.

So, you might just end up with a broken tonneau cover after going through a typical car wash if you are not careful.

Wax: Some car washes offer wax treatment. Stay away from that as much as possible. The effect of this won’t surface at first but over time. Your tonneau cover will lose its overall durability and become stiff.

That’s why I recommend you stay away from wax treatment because it is not worth the trouble.

Dryer Fans: These fans will use static pressure and dry out the moistened surface of your tonneau cover, which will inflict permanent damage. Especially for soft tonneau covers, this is lethal and should be avoided.

For these mentioned reasons, car washes can be a big taboo for many truck owners with tonneau covers.

That being said, not all car washes are harmful, and the mentioned issues aren’t true for a lot of tonneau covers.


Can You Go Through an Automatic Car Wash With Tonneau Cover?

Automatic car washes are not a great choice for tonneau covers. This is because the mentioned issues of car washes are all part of the automatic ones in the first place. 

While that is true, it doesn’t mean that you just can’t wash your truck on an automatic car wash if you have a tonneau cover.

You just need to figure out the type of your tonneau cover, and then you can decide.

Generally, there are two types of tonneau covers out there:

  • Soft tonneau covers
  • Hard tonneau covers

Can You Go Through a Car Wash with a Soft Tonneau Cover?

Soft tonneau covers are lightweight, easy to remove, and don’t have much resistance. So, it is not the best option for going through a car wash automatic or not.

This doesn’t mean you can’t take your soft tonneau cover through a car wash. You can, but the wash needs to be very specific.

That is, you can’t allow any of the brushes to touch, nor can you opt for a highly pressurized water wash.

With that said, if possible, try to take out the soft tonneau cover before you go through a car wash.


Can You Go Through a Car Wash With a Hard Tonneau Cover?

Yes, you can. Hard tonneau covers are made of either aluminum or fiberglass so they can take the hit of pressurized water, fans, and other mechanics of a car wash.

Now, if the hard tonneau cover is a roll-up or foldable one, then you should avoid spinning brushes often. The tonneau cover will end up being half opened, which can be annoying and cause trouble afterward.

Whether your tonneau cover is hard or soft, never use wax treatment on it. Going to a touchless car wash is the best option for any type of tonneau cover.


What Tonneau Covers Can Go Through a Car Wash?

Now, almost every tonneau cover can go through a car wash if you are careful enough. But going with recognized brands who offer hard tonneau covers is the best option.

BAK BAKFlip MX4 is one of the best folding hard tonneau covers you can get on the market.

They can go through almost any automatic to the manual car wash with ease. BAK covers are known for their sturdiness & this one lives up to the name.

Also, retractable tonneau covers from Retrax are a great choice if sturdy car wash durable covers are what you are looking for.

Their bestselling is the RetraxPRO MX, and this is a beast of a tonneau cover and will provide you with enough durability to last a lifetime.

There are also other brands out there, but these are the best of the best, in my opinion. 


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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief at F150Lab

Kevin Shaw has a vast knowledge of pickup trucks, especially the Ford F150. He has been doing various DIY fixes, upgrades, and modifications to pickup trucks for more than five years now.

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