Tonneau Covers: Will They Cause Problems in a Car Wash?

Automated washes are recommended for truck owners who do not have the patience and time to wash their pickups in their garage. Unlike washing the vehicle at home that may take a few hours, an automated car wash saves you time cleaning your truck.

With the convenience of the automatic car wash, people can easily clean their cars. It is more affordable and quicker than doing the washing by hand. Keeping your vehicle clean is crucial to avoid corrosion and damage to the vehicle’s finish.

Many pickup trucks up to eighty-four inches tall with at least four inches of ground clearance can use the car wash service. However, it may be difficult for trucks with dually wheels, lifted suspensions, and oversized tires to avail of the service.

Are you concerned if the automatic wash could damage your truck’s tonneau cover? We’re here to help you avoid any possible damage that an automatic car wash could do to your cover.

Car wash services

Regular automatic car washes have microfiber cloths and brushes attached to the spinning mechanism. They can clean the grime and dirt off the vehicle. But the downside is that the spinning cloth material and brushes can be abrasive to the vehicle’s finish. The spinning mechanism can also knock the parts of your tonneau cover and other exterior accessories.

Another type of automatic wash is the touch-free service. It uses pressurized liquids to remove the filth. Some truck owners prefer this one as it can easily clean the exterior. Since touch-free washes use mechanical systems and sensors, you won’t see any workers wiping the automobile by hand or spinning mechanisms to clean the vehicle. The sensors measure the size and contours of your truck. The built-in pressurized water system will wash the car with chemicals and water.

There are also car wash services that let you brush and clean your vehicle at a minimal price. Some establishments have high-pressure water and cleaning liquids provided. However, you will have to bring your own brushes and microfiber cloths. It’s not exactly a touch-free service because you will need a bit of elbow grease to clean your vehicle.

Car wash safe covers

Most of the time, tonneau covers are allowed in automatic car wash services. However, covers may not be compatible with regular or touch-free car washes. In some instances, the vehicle can go through the automatic wash if the owner removes the bed cover first. Some establishments ask the owners to remove their aftermarket truck accessories like oversized side mirrors before the wash session. It will prevent any instances that it will get caught in the spinning mechanism.

Knowing if the truck bed cover you are currently using is safe for a car wash is crucial. Not all tonneau covers are resistant to liquids and cleaning agents. Before you go to an automatic car wash, it is essential to check the tonneau cover material.


Rust is one of the things that must be prevented—not only in trucks but in all cars. Some manufacturers say that their soft tonneau covers are water-resistant. However, the car wash machinery can rip and damage them, especially if a part gets caught in the equipment. 

These guidelines will help you avoid these mistakes and ensure the security of your cover and the vehicle’s safety.

  • Ensure that you correctly fastened the tonneau cover to the truck bed. If it’s not attached securely, it could flap around during the wash session. It can damage the cover or even the truck itself.
  • Some automated car washes may not be gentle to the truck’s finish. If it’s too rough with your vehicle, the mechanical parts of the automatic car wash could knock the cover off and damage it in some way.
  • If you’re using a soft fabric-made cover that is not water-resistant, it cannot repel water or cleaning liquids. Water can instantly leak onto the truck bed. When that happens, it can damage the bed liner and cause corrosion in the long run.
  • Consider the tonneau cover safe to use if it withstands the harsh chemicals used in automated car washes. You have to make sure the material has a water-resistant coating on its underside. The cover will not get wet when the machine sprays cleaning liquids on the truck bed.
  • Check and read the online reviews about the materials used in the tonneau cover you’re using in your vehicle. Also, check the tonneau cover’s compatibility in different types of car washes.
  • If you insist on keeping the tonneau cover of your truck through the car wash cycle, choose a trustworthy car wash service that undergoes their machine through regular maintenance. In that way, you will have no worries that the mechanism will damage the cover and the truck’s finish.

Improve the waterproofing of your truck bed cover

Tonneau covers are constructed with robust seals and rain channels around the perimeter of the bed to siphon off the liquids. However, water can still seep through because of the gaps in the tailgate. 

Even if the cover is water-resistant, liquids can still make it past the tracks and hinges. You may notice them usually in folding or retractable tonneau covers. The gap in the bottom of the tailgate is created for the water to drain. The spaces also prevent dirt and debris from getting stuck and interfering with the tailgate’s opening or closing.

Don’t worry. You can still improve the waterproofing of your truck bed cover. The tailgate seal will take care of the truck bed’s biggest vulnerability to water. This aftermarket truck accessory can help close the gaps so water will not leak inside.


To avoid any potential damage an automatic wash could do to your tonneau cover, never skip checking its compatibility with the service. Examine if you have properly fastened it, and also seal the gaps where the water can enter.

Doing these precautions will help you determine if the cover can most certainly go through a car wash and avoid any exterior damage to your truck. It goes for both the hard and soft truck bed covers, no matter the design.

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