How To Remove a Tonneau Cover
Your tonneau cover is great at protecting the cargo in your pickup truck, but sometimes you may need to take it off. Most tonneau covers are easy to remove. We’ll explain how to remove different sorts of tonneau covers in this article.
Reasons to remove your tonneau cover
There are some situations where you might need to take off your truck bed cover. Some common reasons are:
- If you need to carry large cargo: Depending on your tonneau, you might need to remove your cover temporarily if you need to carry large cargo. Some tonneaus can roll up or fold out of the way to carry big cargo. Others need to be taken off before hauling large cargo like a couch or kayak. Sawtooth tonneau covers are the only ones that can expand to protect large and tall cargo.
- If you’ve decided to install different truck accessories: Have you purchased a new add-on for your truck like a cargo management system or truck bed roll bars? If so, you may need to remove your truck bed cover. Some other accessories will be compatible with your cover. You should check your user guide first to see if you’ll need to take off your tonneau. Be sure to consider your tonneau type when buying new truck accessories.
- If your tonneau is looking shabby: An old tonneau may start to show wear that takes away from the appearance of your truck. If it’s time to replace your tonneau, you’ll need to take off the old cover. Sawtooth soft tonneaus are 7 times thicker than their competitors. This means they look great longer, even after stretching to cover large and tall cargo that other tonneaus can’t protect.
Is it hard to remove a tonneau cover?
It depends on the type of tonneau cover you are using. Hard tonneaus like hinged fiberglass models are the most difficult to remove. They may require multiple people, a forklift, or even a small overhead crane. Soft covers are easier to remove and can usually be taken off quickly in under 15 minutes.
It also depends whether you need to remove just the cover itself or the side rails, too. Simply removing the textile cover is the fastest option if you plan to use it again soon and can leave the side rails in place.
Can you remove a tonneau cover by yourself?
Most soft tonneaus can be removed by one person. The process will be similar to installing your tonneau cover. So, if you were able to install your cover alone you can probably remove it alone too. With a hard tonneau like a tri-fold or quad-fold model you’ll need to be careful not to scratch your bed rails. When removing a hard tonneau you may want to ask a friend or two to help you out.
What tools do you need?
Like we’ve said, this will depend on your tonneau cover model. You can assume you’ll need the same tools you used to install your cover. Your manufacturer’s instructions should explain how to remove your tonneau cover and they will usually let you know which tools to use.
Make sure you have space to move the cover out of the way and somewhere to store it once it’s been removed.
Tools for removing most tonneau covers:
You may need the following tools. Remember to check your user manual.
- protective goggles
Tools for removing the Sawtooth STRETCH:
Unlike other types of tonneau covers, the Sawtooth STRETCH doesn’t require any tools to remove! You just need a few minutes to entirely remove the Sawtooth STRETCH.
Removing different types of tonneau covers
Need to remove a hard tonneau cover? Wondering how to take off a soft truck bed cover? Here are instructions for taking off some common types of tonneaus.
How to remove the Sawtooth STRETCH:
The Sawtooth truck bed cover is one of the easiest tonneaus to remove. You can take this adjustable tonneau cover off by yourself in under 6 minutes. Instead of lifting off the cover and detaching the rails separately, you can remove the tonneau and rails all very easily with no tools. Follow these steps:
- Unhook the J-hooks from the tailgate corners and roll up the tonneau towards the cab and secure with attached buckles.
- Remove the bows from between the side rails if you were using them. Apply pressure to pull them out of the slots where they sit.
- Pull tailgate rail backwards to remove it from the two side rails. The tailgate rail will keep the corner connectors attached to it.
- Loosen and remove all side clamps to detach tonneau side rails from pickup truck bed rails.
- Lift the side rails from the bed rails and pull from cab rail. You may need to apply some upward pressure.
- Remove the cab rail with the attached Sawtooth STRETCH tonneau cover.
- Store all parts securely until you are ready to re-install.
How to remove a tri-fold or quad-fold tonneau cover:
- Fold the cover all the way up next to the bed and secure with provided buckles.
- Use a wrench to remove the bolts that secure the hinges to the C-clamps.
- Then, you and a friend can stand on each side of the truck and lift the folded cover and move it off the truck. If you are doing it by yourself, you can stand in the bed of the truck and lift the cover off from there. Be careful not to strain you back.
- If your folding tonneau has rails, this will leave the rails attached. You should leave the tonneau cover rails on if you plan to put the cover back on soon. It will be easy to reattach the cover to the rails.
- If you need to remove the cover permanently, you’ll need to take the tonneau cover rails off. See instructions below under “How to remove tonneau cover rails.”
How to remove a hard top fiberglass tonneau:
- Start by sitting in the truck bed and removing the lid clamps. You’ll use a wrench to start to loosen the bolt on the clamp. Continue loosening the bolt by hand until the clamp is detached from the truck body. Move down the side of the truck bed to remove all clamps on both sides. Make sure the tonneau is already laying flat so that it does not come crashing down on you.
- Once the lid is fully detached, 2 – 4 people will need to lift the cover and move it off the truck bed. It should be placed on a stand or saw horses to avoid damaging the fiberglass cover.
How to remove tonneau cover rails
Many flat tonneau covers can be removed while still leaving the rails in place. This makes it much easier to re-install the tonneau later. This is a great option if you are just removing a flat tonneau to haul large items.
If you are not planning to re-install your tonneau cover, you should remove the bed rails. These instructions apply to some hard top tonneau models like folding covers. They also apply for some soft tonneaus like retractable models.
- Use a wrench to loosen the bolts securing the C-clamps to the truck bed rails.
- Once the C-clamps are loosened, remove the rails. Lift each rail carefully to avoid scratching any part of your truck.
- If seals were installed along the bulkhead and tailgate, peel them off. You may need to use isopropyl alcohol to clean up any sticky residue left from the seals.
What about my truck make/model?
No matter what kind of truck you drive, it should be the same process to remove your tonneau. Your truck make and model won’t affect how to take off the tonneau. The most important thing is to check your user guide that came with your tonneau cover.
If it doesn’t explain how to remove your tonneau, you can follow the installation instructions—just backwards!
We hope this was a helpful summary of how to remove your tonneau cover. Whether you need to install your tonneau cover, choose the best tonneau for your truck, or pick between a hard or soft tonneau cover, we’re always here to help.
Shopping for a new tonneau? Contact our experts today!