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What Is a Tonneau Cover? What Does It Do?

The truck bed is the only reason many choose trucks over other vehicles. At least, it was the reason why I did not select any other four-wheeler. It allowed me to conveniently carry cargo back and forth between my workplace and home.

However, I faced a lot of difficulties when the weather was rough. In fact, the cargo got damaged multiple times because of rain. Well, that is when one of my mates suggested getting a tonneau cover

But what is a tonneau cover? Well, a tonneau cover is fancier to say truck bed cover. And just like the name suggests, it protects the pickup truck bed.

But there is much to it, and you can learn about it all by reading this article.


What Is a Tonneau Cover?

At its core, a tonneau cover is a current automotive terminology that describes a soft or hardcover.

This cover spans all the way to the back of the pickup truck. And as I just mentioned above, its main task is to protect the load you will keep in the bed.

However, I found out that people do not get the tonneau cover just for that. It basically offers an upgrade to your entire ride.

To give you a better idea, let me describe all of the things that the cover can offer in brief:

Protects Your Cargo: You would not want your cargo exposed to dirt, dust, snow, rain, and damaging UV light, right?

Well, a tonneau cover can take care of that. It will protect the load from all of the environmental elements.

Prevents Theft: Along with just offering protection from environmental elements, the cover provides protection from theft.

It will keep your items out of sight. And that is something that you can not take for granted if you are hauling something valuable.

In fact, some of the covers will also come with a locking mechanism. That will provide an additional layer of security to your load.

Streamline The Truck: Not that pleased with the outlook of your truck? A tonneau cover can help! It will give your truck bed a sleek look, enhancing the truck’s overall view.

Some hard covers can even match your vehicle’s paint and offer a uniform appearance.

Better Mileage: Although the topic is debatable, a tonneau cover can purportedly make your truck more aerodynamic. And when a vehicle has better aerodynamics, it faces fewer restrictions from the air.

That will let you save a good amount of money on gas.


Why Is It Called a Tonneau Cover?

Tonneau is basically a french term. It translates to ‘barrel’ or ‘cask.’ So, how did a truck bed cover get it?

Well, to understand that, you need to get back in time. Car manufacturers in the early 20th century started to offer different configurations.

Among them, the ‘tonneau’ was the most popular. This option came with an open rear passenger compartment that was typically rounded in shape. And they often included a soft leather covering to protect the area. 

In the early Salt Flat days, the racers later adopted the term. They used that when hotrodders covered up the open areas to reduce the wind drag. That would give the drivers an aerodynamic edge over the opponents. 

According to most, a lot of the records back in the days were shattered because of some hotrodders covering up the open areas of the vehicle.

Later down the line, people started to cover the open spaces just to get better protection for their load. And that is where “tonneau cover” began its journey.


How to Pronounce Tonneau Cover?

Even I was confused regarding the proper pronunciation of the term’ tonneau.’ I used to pronounce it as “TONEW.”

However, later, I learned that the correct pronunciation is “TAW-NO.”


What Is a Tonneau Cover Made of?

In the earlier days, back when hotrodders used to cover the open spaces, tonneau covers were of canvas, leather, or bedsheets.

Nowadays, the simplest forms are roll-up vinyl fabric. Some will even be of polymer.


What Is the Purpose of a Tonneau Cover?

As I have described earlier, the main task of a tonneau cover is to protect the load from environmental elements.

That includes rain, dust, dirt, and snow. However, it also offers protection from theft as some of them will come with a lock.

Alongside that, the tonneau cover will improve the truck’s overall appearance. It will let your vehicle achieve a sleek and uniform look.

Also, these covers can purportedly lower the wind drag, which can undoubtedly improve the mileage.

So, if you want to protect the load that you carry on the bed, want to improve the outlook, or looking to upgrade the performance, a tonneau cover is the right pick!

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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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