What Size is My Truck Bed?

How to Measure a Truck Bed

Measure from the TOP of the bed, using only the inside measurements

Yes, Virginia, the old days are gone forever! You can’t mail a letter for 4 cents anymore. You can’t buy a loaf of bread for a quarter anymore. Gas hasn’t been 35 cents a gallon for decades. And there’s no longer any such thing as a pick-up truck with a “standard” length bed.

It’s true, here in the second decade of the 21st century pick-up trucks beds now come in a variety sizes and can longer be described as simply; long, short, or standard. So if you want to buy say, a drop in bed liner or a tonneau cover for your truck and the salesperson asks you what size bed you have, you need to know the actual length in feet and inches because they simply aren’t all the same anymore.

It used to be, back in the good old days, trucks only came with two optional bed sizes. On a full size truck a “short bed” was approximately 6-1/2 feet and a “long bed” was 8 feet. On compact trucks a “short bed” was typically 6 feet and 7 feet was a “long bed”. Ain’t so anymore!

Today, truck beds come in a wide variety of lengths from 5-1/2 feet, to 6, 6-1/2, 7, and 8 feet. And these will even vary between different manufacturers. For example, a 6-1/2 foot bed on a Ford might actually be 74 inches long (which is really only 6.2 feet) while Dodge’s 6-1/2 foot bed will be 78 inches.

As if that’s not confusing enough, with most truck models these days you can order any length bed with any size cab. If you doubt that you need only to go to Ford’s web site and look at their F-150s. You can check off Regular Cab, Super Cab, or Super Crew, and in the next box; 5.5, 6.5, or 8 foot bed, it’s all possible.

So let’s get back to why it’s important to know the exact length of your truck’s bed. Let’s say you’re in the market for a tonneau cover or a drop in bed liner for your truck. The first thing the salesperson is going to need to know is the length of your truck bed. Since we’ve now learned that old terms standard, short, and long bed no longer apply, how do we know what we’ve got? Easy, get out the tape and measure it.

You can find the length of your truck’s bed by measuring from the inside of the front bulkhead to the inside of the tailgate, at the top of the bed (not the floor) with the tailgate closed. You can give that measurement to the salesperson or you can save them the math problem by dividing that measurement by 12 which will give you the length in feet. (Remember though, that the advertized bed length from the manufacturer is sometimes rounded from the actual measurement.)

Combine this information with the year, make, model, and cab type of your truck and now the salesperson has all of the information he or she needs to provide you with the exact product that is right for your truck!

So yea, the good old days are gone forever and you can’t by a gallon of gas for 30 cents anymore but you now have a much wider variety of choices in pick-up trucks and pick-up truck accessories than you’ve ever had before, and that’s a good thing!

What the Hell is a Tonneau Cover & How Did it Get That Goofy Name?

The crew at TheTonneauCoverStore.com has sold and installed truck accessories in the Kansas City area since 1991. We’ve sold thousands of tonneau covers for every kind of truck you can think of.

Tonneau truck bed covers are called a lot of names, such as tonno cover, tanno cover, roll up cover, truck bed cover, truck tarp, pickup cover and a whole lot more. Whatever you call it, www.TheTonneauCoverStore.com is the place for finding the perfect tonneau cover to fit your truck and your needs.

That Goofy Name

When the first cars were made back in the old days, they often had cabs open to the elements. Drivers and passengers would sit on what were essentially benches strapped to the body of the vehicle. While the cars might have had windscreens and doors, these early vehicles didn’t have roofs. This made the interior completely exposed.

Given that a lot of these cars were expensive and their owners didn’t want them ruined when they had to drive in the rain or snow, they quickly started making covers for the open passenger areas. These were known as “Tonneau” covers because…well, we’re not really sure.

The word is French (rhymes with “John-Know”) and comes from an older French word meaning “tunnel.” So maybe it was first used in France? Or a French tunnel? Or whoever invented it was French? Or…Who knows. The point is, today we call truck bed covers “tonneau covers”. Just accept it.

Why Install a Tonneau Cover?

Installing a tonneau cover on your truck gives you a lot more options than not having one. Most of the customers who buy their covers from www.TheTonneauCoverStore.com do so because they want one or more of the following:

• Protection: A truck bed is a convenient space to have, but it can also take a heck of a beating. Even if you never haul heavy materials around, a truck bed will always be open to the elements. Sun damage, rain, and debris can all damage your truck bed. With a tonneau cover, your bed will be shielded from the elements. Also, if you ever need to transport something when it’s raining, you’ll be very glad you’ve got a cover to keep everything dry.

• Security: An open truck bed can be an inviting place to throw your tools, equipment, luggage, and anything else you need to haul around. But what happens when you go out and have to leave the truck unattended? Anyone who wants to can simply come over and take what they want. Unless you have a tonneau cover. Tonneau covers offer truck owners the ability to turn their truck bed into a trunk that can lock and keep secure whenever you need to.

• Utility: Ever use your truck to haul a lot of scrap or help a buddy move? How about after? Ever take your truck over to your in-laws and feel the need to clean it up so it didn’t look like you just hauled a load of trash? A tonneau cover allows you to use your truck for all that stuff you use it for. It also gives you the option to cover the bed up whenever you need or want to. Some versions, like the Extang toolbox tonneau covers or the Access tool box tonneau covers, give you the ability to add a tonneau cover to your truck, even if you have a toolbox already installed. These versions come in custom lengths to fit any sized toolbox and truck bed.

• Aesthetics: A lot of people buy tonneau covers because they look cool. The covers give your truck a unique, streamlined look that many people find appealing. Soft covers are dominantly black in color, as are most hard plastic or hard folding covers. Ranch fiberglass offers painted tonneau covers to match your truck for show truck looks.

Truck Tonneau Covers

Two of Many Styles of Tonneau Covers

Tonneau Cover Options

When it comes to tonneaus, the crew at The Tonneau Cover Store has you….covered? (That sounded funnier when we thought of it.)

There are a lot of options available when choosing a truck bed cover that meets your needs. From materials to colors and design, you can go a lot of different ways with a truck bed cover.

• Soft Tonneau Covers: A soft tonneau cover is usually made from vinyl or another fabric material with a rubberized coating. These covers are versatile, durable, and are available with a lot of different options. They usually come as either snap-on or snap-less covers. Some, like Access, Extang and Truxedo covers, roll up for easy storage near the cab, while others can be easily removed when you need access to the truck bed. In general, soft tonneau covers are cheaper than harder covers. They are also usually easier to install.

• Hard Covers: A hard tonneau cover is a rigid cover that acts much like a hood or trunk. These are made of fiberglass, metal, or plastic and come with a wide range of options. Some are folding models with solid panels that fold and stack on themselves, while others are solid, 1-piece hinged designs that give a sleek appearance with no seams. These come in both lightweight ABS (think seriously tough plastic, strong enough to stand on) as well as painted fiberglass versions

• Soft/Hard Combination Covers: Some tonneau covers, like the Truxedo Deuce series, have a rigid frame with a vinyl or fabric cover. These covers are often segmented into two or three pieces, allowing you to raise one section while keeping the rest of the cover in place. You can also roll them up like a traditional tonneau cover to gain full access to the bed.

• Low-Profile Covers: Many hard and soft tonneau covers sit above your truck bed. Some people don’t like the added height back there, and look towards low-profile covers instead. These covers, such as the Flex Cover series from UnderCover or the Truxedo LoPro QT, are made to sit just barely above the truck bed level. Others install so they don’t add any height at all. These low-profile covers can be either hard or soft.

What About Gas Mileage?

There are a lot of places that will sell you a tonneau cover and tell you that you’ll save gas mileage with it on your truck. Studies have shown that with highway driving, you can save as much as 10% in gas mileage. We take these claims with a grain of salt. Do they save gas? You bet. Like we said, we’ve sold covers for over 20 years and we get our information from the best sources possible…our customers.

We’re no scientists, but we do watch TV. The Mythbusters once tested out all sorts of truck-bed covers and found that using a mesh gate instead of the standard tailgate actually increases gas mileage. Why? It has something to do with the gate allowing an air bubble to get trapped in the bed and provide a cushion that the other air around the truck bounces off of. When you remove the bubble by adding a tonneau cover, you may actually slightly decrease your truck’s gas mileage. The problem with this is that every truck is a different shape, which means that the aerodynamics for every truck are different. Plus, every driver has different driving habits (acceleration, feathering the throttle, etc.)

A lot of tonneau cover manufacturers got pretty upset with the Mythbusters. Since then they’ve conducted their own studies, and some of them have shown that some tonneau covers do actually make your truck slightly more efficient. SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) conducted their own study a few years ago and came to the same conclusion that tonneau covers DO help with gas mileage!

Our crew believes it’s hard to tell what effect a cover has on fuel efficiency without testing every single cover on every single truck. Plus, everyone’s driving styles are different. In our experience, more customers than not claim some small benefit in gas mileage on the highway after installing a tonneau, usually about 1-2 MPG. Depending on your factory mileage before installing a tonneau cover, this could save you hundreds of dollars per year.

In the end, if you want a tonneau cover you should get it because you think it’s best for your truck. The added fuel economy will just be an added bonus.

Covers, Options, Budgets and Your Questions

If you’ve been considering a tonneau cover but don’t know where to begin, the best advice we can give you is to give us a call. Talk to us, ask us questions, and bother us with e-mails and endless phone calls. Seriously, we want you to. We live and breathe truck accessories, and finding a tonneau cover that fits your truck, your needs, and your budget is something we love to do.

The crew at The Tonneau Cover Store is ready to talk to you about anything you want to know about tonneau covers. But be warned. If you start talking to us about ‘em, you may end up learning more than you ever thought was possible.

Yeah, it sounds like fun to us too.