What’s the difference in a cheap tonneau cover vs. a more expensive tonneau cover? We get asked that a lot. The difference is usually just that…a lot.
Categorize them however you want. “Cheap, moderate and expensive” or “Good, better and best”. However you classify a product related to its price, there are almost always differences in what you get for your hard earned money.
Just like buying a TV, refrigerator, truck or a house, you usually get what you pay for. That doesn’t mean that cheap tonno covers aren’t good, but they usually lack features and more importantly, benefits found in more expensive tonneau covers.
You as the truck owner, need to decide what’s important to you. If you don’t get in and out of your bed very often, and just want one to improve gas mileage, a cheap tonneau cover may do the trick. Almost any tonneau cover improves gas mileage, regardless of how much you spend on it.
But if you do use your truck bed occasionally or even frequently to haul things, you’ll probably be using your cover a lot also.
Ask yourself these questions:
How often do I haul things in my truck bed?
- If you use your truck bed frequently, you may benefit from “better” or “best” quality tonneau cover. Usually, they are easier and/or faster to get in and out of. The best covers can be rolled out of your way and secured in under 10 seconds. Plus it can be done with 1 hand. This matters if you have your hands full. If you are only wanting one to help improve your gas mileage and for no other reason, a cheap tonneau cover may do the trick.
Do I live in an area where rain and snow are frequent, or the winters are long?
- If you have to load or unload your truck bed frequently in when the temperature is -4 degrees outside or it’s pouring down rain, are you willing to spend the time covering your bed by snapping 70-80 snaps? These go all the way down both sides and around the back of the truck, may require using hands to snap them. Same goes for some models that have 2 latches/locks. If you have to reinstall the support bows with wind chills in the negative numbers, are you going to be happy about it? Mid- to upper-end tonneau covers have no snaps, the bows roll up with the tarp and can be fully opened or closed in seconds, not minutes.
How long do I keep my trucks?
- Most of your inexpensive tonneau covers have a 3-5 year warranty (at least the truck bed covers WE sell do. We can’t say that about the “other” guys). If you keep your trucks for a long time, your better / best quality covers frequently have a lifetime guarantee. Most of these models cover everything right down to the clamps.
Do I want a tonneau cover that’s as heavy duty as my truck?
- Most of your mid- to upper-end tonneau covers are built with heavier duty frames, rails, cross bows, hardware and in many cases, a heavier tarp fabric. Some inexpensive tonneau covers use plastic for the corners and other insignificant parts. It doesn’t mean that all cheap tonneau covers are flimsy. But for a manufacturer to build a tonneau cover that can be priced inexpensively, they generally must use lighter duty components. This is no different than an inexpensive TV, or a truck for that matter. A Ford Ranger costs less than a Ford F150. They are built to serve a different purpose. Lighter duty suspension, shocks, etc.
The bottom line is we all want to save money. Just make sure you are honest with yourself when you make your choice. Ask yourself the questions above and answer them HONESTLY. Just one answer you give yourself may tell you what you AREN’T willing to sacrifice when it comes to buying a tonneau cover.
Give us a call to help you choose what cover best fits YOUR needs. Our team has sold AND INSTALLED tonneau covers for over 20 years in our retail stores. We’ll give you our honest opinions on what will work, and more importantly, what won’t.