I remember back in the day when the first tonneau covers hit the market. Before than if you wanted to keep things dry you installed a truck cap and if you had a thick wallet you could install a fiberglass cap as opposed to an aluminum one. So let me paint a picture of the first tonneau covers to hit the market. The box was rectangular just big enough to hold a rolled up tonneau and a bag of hardware. You took the cover out of the box and the bag that containing the snaps that screwed into the bed, the screws and the one page instructions that went something like this.
Lay cover over bed of truck bringing the front to the edge of the box. Be sure you have the same amount of cover on each side and mark the spots for the first two snaps closest to the cab. Using a 1/8 drill bit drill your first hole and with a Phillips screwdriver and a screw install the first snap making sure to add a ½ an inch past your mark so your cover can stretch. Repeat on the opposite side. Now make 2 marks on the opposite end near the tailgate making sure to stretch the cover as much as you can, it may help to have a friend stretch the cover for you as you make your marks. Now add a ½ an inch past your marks and repeat the drilling and installing snaps. Now you can snap the first 4 snaps into place. Repeat the entire procedure for rest of snaps.
Now this whole process could take hours and if you were extremely lucky the cover was tight but only until the truck sat in the sun, shortly after that every time it rained your tonneau would fill with water and stretch even more since back then there was no support systems. Thankfully now most tonneau covers are no drill and have a fully adjustable rail support systems. The covers generally install in about 15 minutes and hold up in the sun. Boy times have changed.
Now that tonneau,s have been dramatically improved we install them on our trucks for many reasons. First off they look great, secondly they keep things dry, but what many do not know is that they actually improve gas mileage. Tonneau,s actually make our truck beds aerodynamic. I am not going to go into to much science here but the just of it is that air generally flows over our cab and into the bed where the tailgate stops that flow and reverses it’s direction. By adding a tonneau the air continues flowing making things smooth without the massive air restriction. This in return improves gas mileage by up to 7 mpg in some cases. Now add this up over a year’s time. Let’s see if an average driver drives 15,500 miles per year that is a savings of 2150 miles of gas or roughly 108 gallons. So if our truck get’s 20 miles per gallon and gas is $3.00 per gallon in a year’s time we saved $324.00 Heck that will cover the cost or just about of a new tonneau cover.
So to recap if you buy a new tonneau cover and drive your truck for a year you have improved gas mileage, kept your things in your bed dry and improved the appearance of your truck and the best part of all is that at the end of the year your cover was practically free. Not a bad deal if you ask me.