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Tonneau: Wikis


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1910 Buick Tonneau
1903 Ford Model A rear-door Tonneau

Tonneau (US: /tʌˈnoʊ/, UK: /ˈtɒnoʊ/) in modern use describes a hard or soft cover for a pickup truck bed. Hard tonneau covers open by a hinging or folding mechanism while soft covers open by rolling up.

Its original (now archaic) use was for an open rear passenger compartment on an automobile and, by extension, a body style incorporating such a compartment. The word comes originally from French, roughly meaning cask, container, or cover. Most tonneaus were fixed in place as an optional element at purchase, but some could be removed as on the Crestmobile. Early tonneaus normally had a rear-facing hinged door, but single and dual-side doors were soon introduced. The first side-door tonneau was made by Peerless, but others quickly followed. This led to the development of the modern sedan/saloon, with Cadillac manufacturing the first production closed-body four-door car in 1910.

In the post-World War II era, the term referred to the area behind the front seats of an open car (a convertible or roadster) or a hard or soft cover that encloses the well for the convertible top and/or the rear seating/storage area. Early open-bodied touring-type automobiles used tonneau covers to protect unoccupied rear seats.

Quite often the word is spelled incorrectly as "tonno".


Current use and styles

Tonneau covers are used by owners of utility vehicles and trucks to cover and secure their pickup bed and come in a variety of styles.[1] [2]

The most common style is the roll up tonneau made from cloth or vinyl which uses a rib-like structure to support the fabric and keep it taut. A snap-based system is also used, but has become less common due to truck owners not wanting to install the snaps on their vehicle as they typically require drilling or use permanent adhesive.[3]Roll up Tonneaus are opened by rolling the cover up toward the cab of the truck.

Another common style of tonneau cover is a retractable unit, which is mounted at the front and sides of the bed and rolls up or retracts from the tailgate towards the cab. Usually, there is a small rectangular canister attached at the front of the bed to store the tonneau cover when retracted. The retractable tonneau is typically made of vinyl, plastic or aluminum. Retractable tonneaus have the benefit of being more convenient to use than vinyl roll up styles as they don't involve any difficult or time consuming assembly or disassembly.Retractable tonneau styles are also usually lockable.[4][5]

Fiberglass or hard plastic tonneau covers are also common and have what is generally agreed upon to be the best appearance. They tend to be painted to match the truck (unlike the other styles which are generally black), are solid in construction, and can be locked. These covers are usually heavy and require gas struts to assist in opening and closing. They operate much like a vehicle's hood, typically opening from the tailgate end of the bed (back to front). However, some are available with multiple compartments that will open front to back, back to front, side to side, or even rise vertically. Fiberglass or hard plastic tonneau covers are sometimes installed as a factory option with some new vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Silverado and Avalanche, Ford Sport Trac, and Honda Ridgeline.[6]


Tonneau covers offer a number of benefits to pick-up truck owners:

Protection from weather A tonneau cover will protect truck contents and the truck bed itself from rain, sleet, snow, and hail. Tonneau covers also protect contents from the damaging effects of the heat of the sun.
Security and theft protection Tonneau covers offer increased security because the time it would take to open or remove a truck bed cover would discourage theft. For added security, a locking mechanism is available for some styles.
Organization and safe transport Truck bed covers keep cargo in the bed from rolling and rattling around, and can help prevent damage and breakage. Tonneau covers also keep contents from being blown around or blown out of the truck by wind.
Improved aerodynamics and gas mileage Because of their open truck beds, trucks are not aerodynamic or fuel efficient. By adding a tonneau cover to the truck, air is deflected from the bed rather than getting trapped in the bed and creating drag. Tonneau covers will immediately improve gas mileage as a result of the aerodynamic improvement gained by covering the truck bed.[7]

Other uses

"Tonneau case" is used to describe a type of watch case, with rounded, bulging sides resembling a barrel (or cask).

Optional tonneau covers were once available for open sport cars such as the MGA and Austin Healy 3000. These covers, made of leather or vinyl, covered the entire passenger compartment, and were zippered to enable the driver's seating area to be uncovered, while the passenger seat and small rear storage space remained covered. These were often used in lieu of a hard or soft convertible top.[8]


  1. ^ Tonneau Covers Tonneau Cover Styles
  2. ^ Tonneau Covers Tonneau Cover Styles
  3. ^ Snapless Tonneau Cover TruXedo: Tonneau Cover Manufacturer
  4. ^ Roll-Up Style Cover Roll-N-Lock "Roll Up" Style Cover
  5. ^ Retractable Style Tonneau Peragon Retractable Style Tonneau
  6. ^ Factory Installed Tonneau Chevy Silverado Factory Cover
  7. ^ Tonneau Covers Truck Champ Learning Center
  8. ^ MGA Style Tonneau Tonneau Cover on MGA


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