Ford F-150/F-250: Tonneau Cover Modifications

You can use hard or soft tonneau covers on your Ford F-150 or Super Duty, and it depends on your needs and preferences. This walk through explores the pros and cons of each. Snap, snapless, and roll up covers are the soft options while folding. Retractable and hinged covers are the hard cover ones.

By James Karuga - November 11, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014) and SF-250 Super Duty (2005-2014).

Tonneau covers are a great compliment to your Ford F-150 or Super Duty. Not only do they add a great look to your truck, but they also add great security for your belongings. So you get the great luxury of owning a truck, with the great benefit of a closed trunk. Tonneau covers come in different shapes and forms, but in the end, they all fall under two types, hard covers and soft covers. Here are all the types that fall under both the hard and soft ones.

Snap Covers

  • DIY Cost: $130-400
  • Professional Cost: $230-500
  • Required Skill Level: Moderate

Snap upgrade cover rings are fastened on the truck's rails to hold it. Though snap covers are low cost, auto owners complain it's laborious and time consuming to fix in cold weathers due to contraction. The rings also easily break during installation. Installing the snap cover requires a wrench and screwdriver and the process takes around 30 minutes.

Snapless Cover

DIY Cost: $150-430
Professional Cost: $250-530
Required Skill Level: Simple

Snapless covers are made from vinyl. They are easy to fix and are attached by sliding the Velcro by hand on a tarp fixed on truck. Most Ford F-Series owners prefer snapless covers whose finish is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. These can be fixed in 10 minutes. Leaks are likely to occur if it rains or snows heavily, as they sag or tear and over time the Velcro wears off and fails to hold.

Roll Up Cover

DIY Cost: $180-500
Professional Cost: $200-600
Required Skill Level: Simple

Roll up Cover is the other soft tonneau fastened on a latch attached to bed rails. You open or close it by sliding it on a latch. Its lock mechanism means you don't have to open it to the end. It's easy to assemble taking less than 30 minutes to put it up on the truck's bed. The cover can malfunction when the latch is clogged and can also obscure the rear view mirror.

Hard Cover Tonneaus offer most security and don't tear up like soft covers. But they are not flexible like soft covers when large goods have to be hauled. Upgrading with hard covers at times requires expertise where bed modifications have to be made to accommodate them. They are made of aluminum sheets or fiber glass.

Folding Cover

DIY Cost: $250-800
Professional Cost: $350-900
Required Skill Level: Moderate

Hard folding tonneau covers allow the bed to be partitioned with bi and tri fold hinged panels. With expertise, it takes less than 10 minutes of assembly, but if done poorly leaks are possible. Car owners also complain after several years, the hinges break which can cost $100 to fix. Use of tools to assemble is negligible depending on the make.

Retractable Cover

DIY Cost: $699-1,500
Professional Cost: $899-1,800
Required Skill Level: Moderate

Retractable tonneau cover is aluminum made and is the most modern of covers. It's automated and comes out from a canister at the front of the bed. It can be locked and closed from any bed section. Most auto owners like its automated operation mode and the security it offers while some models close over the tailgate. The downside in this cover, unlike soft ones, is that opening it completely requires it to slide to the front of the bed.

Hinged Cover

DIY Cost: $600-1,000
Professional Cost: $700-1,500
Required Skill Level: Moderate

Hinged tonneau cover has a metal panel that opens upwards the front of truck's bed. It takes less than a minute to open. Its limitation is that tall items cannot fit in the trunk if the cover is closed. It utilizes gas filled shocks that lift the cover up and bring it down.

Summary

The hard and soft options gain 2 to 3 miles per gallon since drag is reduced compared to trucks without covers. Weather wise soft covers are suited for sunny areas while hard covers are ideal for snowy or rainy regions. Extang, Retrax, and Truxedo are some reputable providers of hard and soft covers in the market. They offer warranties of 2 to 5 years on their covers.

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