How to Restore a Faded Tonneau Cover

How to Restore a Faded Tonneau Cover

Over time, tonneau covers suffer wear and tear and damage from harsh UV rays, and these covers can fade, crack, or break over time without proper care. Fortunately, routine maintenance will keep your tonneau cover looking and performing well over the long haul. 

To restore a faded tonneau cover: Move your truck out of direct sunlight, rinse and wash with car shampoo, rinse again and dry the car, and apply a plastic/vinyl restorer. 

Tools and Materials 

  • Car Shampoo
  • Hose and Water Buckets 
  • Microfiber Towels 
  • A Plastic/Vinyl Restorer 

About Plastic/Vinyl Restorers: Choose Carefully!

You can find plenty of plastic restorers on the market, which makes narrowing one down difficult. We recommend using a restoring product with water-based and protective properties. If you need a reliable cleaner, consider Stoner’s Trim Shine. Engineered to rejuvenate and brighten, Stoner’s Trim Shine protects against UV and sunlight and is safe for all trim finishes. 

Move your truck out of direct sunlight

Your restoration results will improve if your truck moves to a shaded area. Tonneaus have a large surface area exposed to the sun and are usually dark in color, so these surfaces can quickly become extremely hot. Heat will cause cleaner and water to evaporate too fast, creating the perfect recipe for water spots and streaks. The cooler you can keep your vehicle, the more likely you will get good results.

While considering the sun, check the weather forecast – you’ll want to ensure it will not rain for a day or two post-cleaning. Rain can quickly rinse away a fresh coat of plastic restorer.

Rinse and wash with car shampoo

Before restoring the color, wash off the tonneau cover to remove dirt, dust, and other debris. 

First, rinse off the cover with water to remove light debris. Then wash your tonneau cover, using car shampoo and a wash mitt – target areas with any built-up grime or signs of wear and tear. If the liquid is prematurely evaporating, reapply some soapy solution to prevent potential water spots and streaks from forming. 

Rinse again and dry the car

Once you’ve cleaned the tonneau cover, rinse it off thoroughly. This step removes any lifted dirt, grime, and lingering soap. 

Next, dry off the tonneau cover using clean microfiber towels. You’ll need a thoroughly dried, clean surface for the following step. Focus on wiping pooled water areas and allowing the entire cover to dry. We recommend placing the fully-extended cover on its side to facilitate air drying.  

Once the cover is clean and dry, it’s time to revitalize that deep, dark shine. 

Apply a plastic/vinyl restorer

Apply your choice of a plastic/vinyl restorer. You will want to apply the product every few months to protect against fading, cracking, and discoloration. 

Before spraying, make sure the cover isn’t hot to the touch. If it is, ensure the cover is in a cool, shaded area and allow time to cool down. If you’re using Trim Shine, spray two or three squirts, and wipe with a microfiber towel. Working in small areas, wipe from left to right. If you’re still working with the tonneau cover on the truck bed, start with the area closest to the cab and work your way back. Avoid using too much solution, as this can create an uneven finish. 

After you’ve applied the restoring product, allow proper time to dry before driving away! This simple process will keep your tonneau cover looking and functioning like new. 

How the Sun Breaks Down Your Tonneau Cover 

So how does the sun damage a tonneau cover from millions of miles away? 

Over time, the sun’s UV rays slowly dehydrate the plastic, eventually degrading the cover's overall quality, feel, and look. During manufacturing, plastics are infused with oils, and the sun’s harsh UV rays and heat strip the plastic of these oils. Plastic trim pieces lack protection because they don’t have protective clear coats like car paint. 

Signs of Tonneau Cover Deterioration 

Three main signs show that it’s time to clean and protect your tonneau cover: 

  • A chalky, white appearance 
  • The component surface becomes brittle 
  • A light color change on the surface of the cover

The key to keeping your tonneau cover in prime shape

Routine upkeep is crucial to maintaining tonneau covers long-term, and truck owners should clean them at least every 1-2 weeks. 

Whenever possible, park in the shade; this provides ample protection from the sun’s harsh rays. Likewise, when removed, store your cover in a cool, dry, and shaded area.  

Sharpen up your tonneau cover! 

Tonneau covers offer protection from the elements while keeping your cargo safe. Maintenance is crucial for their life-span, and you can restore your cover in a few simple steps: Move your truck out of direct sunlight, rinse and wash with car shampoo, rinse again and dry the car, and apply a plastic/vinyl restorer. 

Enjoy your restored tonneau cover, and enjoy the ride!

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