Tonneau covers: Can you take them through a car wash?

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Tonneau covers are available in both hard and soft options. These covers are generally safe to take through the car wash, but there are a few things to consider beforehand.

So can you take your Tonneau cover through a car wash? A large portion of tonneau covers can survive a trip to the automated car wash without incident, however, it would be wise to take some precautions. Some manufacturers may require you to remove the cover completely before getting your vehicle washed. It is highly recommended to always check your owner’s manual if you have it available. If not, you may want to call a retailer or look it up on the company’s website.

The Difference Between Hard and Soft Covers

Hardtop tonneau covers are made out of hard plastic or fiberglass and come with a locking hinged door.

These types of covers are the most sturdy and should be able to go through a car wash without incident. However, if your cover is painted you may want to use a touchless carwash. A hands-on wash may scratch the paint and is more likely to damage the unit.

Soft top tonneau covers can go through most regular car washes with brushes with little risk of harming the paint. These covers are made with lighter bendable fabrics instead of rigid materials that don’t have any give. Tonneau covers that have a large number of moving parts such as retractable, folding, or rolling covers should avoid car washes of all kinds as much as possible.

Best Practices

The best way to clean a tonneau cover is to wash it by hand. This lowers the chances of damaging the product by taking the time to carefully and gently wash it. Whether you perform the cleaning on your own or hire a detailer, a personal touch will be much easier on the cover than the heavy machinery at the car wash. However, if you do decide to get it washed, a touchless option is always the best choice.

Before you have it cleaned, always securely close the tonneau to keep liquid from getting inside. The outside of the tonneau is designed to repel water but if it is left open its waterproof quality is rendered useless. Even if it is only slightly open, water and soap can get inside and damage the interior and soak anything you have stored. You should avoid waxing the tonneau cover.

Wax can leave behind a film of residue. If you have tonneau that is retractable or folding this residue can get into the moving parts and cause them to malfunction. If you have a soft cover it can cause the material to become stiff and brittle. Washing your tonneau in a way that is not approved by the manufacturer can void your warranty as well.

Top 7 Best Storage Solutions for Trucks with Tonneau Covers

Recommended Gear

If you are on the hunt for some good gear to clean your Tonneau Cover up after a wash to make it glisten in the sun! Here are some recommendations on gear that you should take a look at. I would generally recommend using this stuff after you finish washing up the car.


It is possible to take your tonneau through a car wash. However, you should always check the owner’s manual and be sure not to void the warranty or damage the product by doing so. Hand washing is the safest and recommended way to clean your tonneau to avoid any issues.