Can You Lock a Tonneau Cover? 4 Most Common Methods [2023]

Looking to purchase a tonneau cover but not sure about whether they lock or how much security and theft protection they actually offer?

Don’t worry, we were confused too when we first started researching about tonneau covers for our own truck.

But, the short answer is yes, some tonneau covers can be locked for security.

But they don’t all offer the same protection.

While some higher-end models offer secure locking mechanisms with a key or remote fob, most tonneau covers generally lock in place via the tailgate.

Because of this, you will often find that hard tonneau covers also offer the best in security protection due to the difficult of being able to gain access to whatever type of lock the tonneau cover has.

Let’s take a look at the advantages of a locking tonneau cover, the types of locking mechanism’s available and, most importantly, the best type of locking mechanism for security.

If you’re looking to purchase a locking tonneau cover, check out our guide on the best locking tonneau covers.

Advantages of a Locking Tonneau Cover

  • Security: A tonneau cover provides an additional layer of security for your cargo by making it more difficult for potential thieves to access the contents of your truck bed. This can be especially important if you frequently transport valuable items.
  • Theft deterrence: Along with providing physical security, a tonneau cover can also act as a deterrent for would-be thieves. A locked cover signals to thieves that the contents of your truck bed are not easily accessible, making it less likely that they will attempt to steal from you.
  • Ability to lock in place: Some tonneau covers can be locked in place along the bed rails when transporting larger items, providing added security and stability for your cargo during transport. This can be especially useful if you frequently transport bulky items that may shift during transit.

Types of Tonneau Cover Locking Mechanism’s

As we touched upon above, there are a tonne of different locking mechanisms available for a tonneau cover. Some are more secure than others, while others are quicker and more convenient to unlock.

Below is a list of the 4 most common types of locking mechanism and what they actually mean:

1. Pull-Cable Release

can you lock a tonneau cover?

The pull-cable release is a feature most commonly found on hard folding tonneau covers such as the BAKFlip MX4.

It is usually located at the back of the cover, closest to the tailgate.

When pulled, the cable simultaneously disengages latches on both sides of the cover from the frame, allowing you to lift and open the tonneau cover up.

However, it’s important to note that the pull-cable release itself does not lock, but instead uses your tailgate being locked as a way to prevent access to the cable release.

2. Latch and Clamp

tonneau cover lock

Latch and clamp mechanisms are a common type of fastening mechanism found mainly on soft tonneau covers such as the Truxedo Lo Pro.

They typically consist of a clamping mechanism that is attached to the frame of the cover and a latch that is secured onto the bed of the truck.

When the latch is closed, it engages with the clamping mechanism, creating a secure seal that keeps the cover in place.

Latch and clamp mechanisms are easy to operate and can be quickly released, allowing for quick access to the contents of the truck bed.

Some tonneau covers may feature multiple latch clamps that distribute the tension and weight evenly across the cover, providing additional security and durability.

Similar to the pull-cable release mechanism, the way in which latch clamps “lock”, is by closing and locking your tailgate in place so that no one can access and release the clamps.

3. Key Lock

Tonneau covers with key locks are most often found in hard retractable and hard one-piece covers such as the RetraxONE or the UnderCover LUX.

With key lock covers, the latches will usually automatically disengage as you turn the key, allowing you to retract or open the cover only once the lock has been switched to the open position.

These types of covers are one of the most secure and convenient option on the market as it also means you do not have to open your tailgate to access your truck bed like you do with many other covers.

4. Electromagnetic Brakes

electromagnetic brake locking tonneau

Electromagnetic brakes are a unique feature that can only be found on electric tonneau covers such as the PowertraxONE XR and Roll N Lock E-Series.

Through the use of a remote key fob, the tonneau cover can be opened and closed. When the tonneau cover is closed, the brakes engage and lock the cover in place. To unlock the tonneau cover, the brakes must be disengaged.

Similar to the key lock mechanism, electromagnetic brake covers offer superior security and theft protection compared to others mentioned on this.

Additionally, these covers can often be locked in multiple places along the truck bed to allow secure transportation of larger items.

Best Locking Mechanism for Tonneau Cover

If you have read through all of the above types of locking mechanism’s available in tonneau covers, you probably already know this answer.

But if you are TLDR, we’ve done a quick round up of the two most secure options:

  1. Key lock: These types of covers offer supreme protection in comparison to any latch of pull release mechanisms due to the fact that to disengage them you require the actual key. Latch and pull-release simply require you to have access to the mechanism, which in some covers is not that difficult to do with a couple of tools.
  2. Electromagnetic brakes: Electromagnetic brakes are only available on electric tonneau covers. Similar to key lock, they require access to the remote key fob to be opened. Similar to that of a garage door, you can’t open or close the cover without the use of the fob.

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About Author

Hi there, my name is Jack Reilly, and I'm a truck driver and writer. I've been driving trucks for over two decades now, and it's a passion that's only grown stronger over time.