Why Your Tonneau Cover Lock Won’t Unlock? [Solved]

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Written By Waylon Joe

Hey, It’s Waylon “Joe” Kite here. I am a West Virginia native and a die-hard pickup truck fan. My story with trucks started with my dad’s 1989 Ford F-150, and it's still going on. I'll share all my trucking experiences (both great and gross ones) with you. I have a garage full of tools to fix and renovate trucks and a freezer full of ales. Do you want to join me?

You went to your truck to put some goods in the truck’s bed. But now, when you’re trying to unlock the cover, it’s not working. It was okay when you left it the last time.

So you’re asking yourself, what happened? How do I fix the tonneau cover lock so it won’t unlock the problem?

You can use penetrating oil if the lock is jammed or too tricky to open. Besides, using a coat hanger to open the latch is also a clever idea. If water is frozen in the lock, you can use a propane torch to heat the safety. A Butter or butty also comes in handy to open the tailgate and the cover.

That was just an overview of how you can solve your problem. We’ll discuss all the possible fixes in detail. Stay with us to learn more!

Types Of Tonneau Covers And Locks

Whether we own a Ford, Nissan, or any truck, our truck’s bed cover depends. Based on our truck model, and different aspects, we choose other tonneau covers, such as BAKflip, American, Gator, TruXedo, Extang, etc.

And those covers come with different locking mechanisms that keep our bed cover and goods safe. Let’s have a quick idea of all types of tonneau covers available in the market.

  • Hard folding (Regular).
  • Hard folding (Retractable).
  • Hard folding (One-piece).
  • Soft folding (vinyl).
  • Soft roll-up (Vinyl).
  • Electric (Retractable).

So, there are six different types of covers available in the market. Besides, all these covers are available based on your car brand and model. For these covers, the locking mechanism varies too. Those are;

Lock TypeCover TypeLocking Mechanism
Rotary LatchHard folding cover and vinyl roll-up.Latches disengage from the frame.
Trigger LatchSoft and vinyl roll.By pulling down the triggers.
Latch ClampSoft and vinyl roll.Lock the tailgate.
Speed ClampSoft and folding roll.By grabbing and pulling the handle.
Key LockRetractable and hardcovers.By using a key.
Electromagnetic BrakesElectric covers.By pushing a button.
Why Your Tonneau Cover Lock Won't Unlock

Materials You Need Before Opening A Tonneau Cover Lock

There are four items you need before getting into solving the problem. Having these beforehand will save time and make the process more effective.

One of those items is dielectric grease. Mainly this item is used for many reasons, such as;

  • It keeps your electrical components protected from corrosion and dirt. It also helps remove decay.
  • Besides, it also works as car wax.

The second essential component is penetrating oil. Oil is one of the most popular items to remove or free parts combined. To fix the issue we have, penetrating oil will come in handy.

It will help loosen the locks and the mechanism. Besides, the process of unlocking will be more manageable with the help of this. 

But never use WD40 lubricant there. You will complicate the mechanism. Because that will just gum up the lock area, you might need to replace the entire thing.

The third and fourth items we need are pliers and tissues. The pilers will be used to push or put force on the locking mechanism.

How To Fix Tonneau Cover Lock Won’t Unlock Problem

There are a few reasons why the covers can get locked or jammed. Whatever the reason might be, you can fix it. We can get into it now that we know what materials you need.

The most obvious and helpful method is to use lubricant or penetrating oil. You can unlock the cover lock within a few steps. Let’s see how.

  1. If the situation is like this, you can’t even insert the key into the keyhole. Then you need oil for it. Put penetrating lubricant into the keyhole.
  2. Clean the keyhole properly so there is no extra oil.
  3. Wait a few moments to get the oil done. It won’t take more than five or six minutes.
  4. You should be able to insert the key into the keyhole now.
  5. If you find it difficult to insert it, then push and hammer the key. That should do the trick.
  6. Try inserting and taking out the key from the keyhole a few more times.
  7. You will find an opening where you can unlock it. Slowly bring the key in there and wait about three to four minutes.
  8. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
  9. Turning the key should do the key now. You’ll be able to unlock the cover lock.

Even if all the steps above don’t work, the pliers will come in handy now. Grab the lock with the pliers, and try to put force on it.

Slowly put more pressure and try to bring the lock to its optimal position. That way, you can easily unlock the tonneau cover.

You must regularly check up on a few things when you finally unlock it.

  • Don’t let rust get to your lock. To prevent rusting, put dielectric grease in there. That’ll do the job.
  • The second important thing is not to let dirt gather in the lock area.

If you’ve tried everything we discussed here and it still doesn’t work, there are other ways to do this. There are several reasons why the locks might get stuck and alternative ways to free this.

Alternative Ways To Unlock The Tonneau Cover Lock

Alternative Ways To Unlock The Tonneau Cover Lock

Sometimes, the reason might be something else that you don’t even imagine. Let’s discuss the causes and fixes one by one.

Drill Out The Old Lock

Sometimes; the locks are too stubborn to get unlocked. In situations like this, the easiest way to fix this issue is to drill out the old lock. You can use a carbide or black oxide bit along with it.

You will find many excellent replacements for your safety. Then you can just replace the old one with the new one. But be careful not to damage the cover while drilling.

Using A Coat Hanger

A small clip holds the cover from the inside. You can use a coat hanger to unlock the locks sometimes. But it depends on the lock type on your cover.

You can use this method if your lock mechanism has latches that a cable can activate or a button-style lock. You can just grab a coat hanger and try to pop the latch inside with it.

After disconnecting the clip and the latch, you can fold and unlock the cover from below.

Heat The Lock

Water can get into the lock in winter, during the heavy rainy season, or sometimes during a car wash. And then it can get frozen up inside the lock.

In this particular situation, you need a torch. For example, a propane torch might get the job done. Fire up the torch and try to unfreeze the ice inside the lock.

Using A Putty or Butter Knife

The strike plate doesn’t sometimes work how it’s supposed to. The strike plate needs to come up enough to open the tailgate. But, sometimes, it gets stuck.

Grab a putty or butter knife, and try to open the metal tab. You will find the metal tab between the tailgate and the cover.

After opening the lock, remove the strike plate. Then, get a key to lock the system and the tailgate properly.

Also read: How To Open Truck Bed Cover Without Key? Answered!


Can You Break Into A Tonneau Cover?

Yes, you can break into a tonneau cover. However, it provides excellent security for the goods you have in your bed cover. But there are a few ways that thieves can break a tonneau cover. You can always install an extra lock on your cover.

Can You Open Tailgate With Tonneau Cover?

Yes, you can open the tailgate with a tonneau cover. Many covers come with a multi-locking position in your cover. Using those, you can partially open a part of your cover and tailgate.

Read also: Can You Sleep Under A Tonneau Cover

Can You Drive With A Tonneau Cover Partially Open?

Yes, you can drive with a tonneau cover partially open. But you might face a few problems, such as getting dust and dirt getting into your cover and ruining your things. It’s always recommended to drive safely with your cover entirely closed.

Read also: How To Fix Tonneau Cover Latch?

Finals Words

That was all from us. We hope this article solves your tonneau cover lock and won’t unlock the problem.

There are a few ways that you can quickly resolve the issue. We tried to discuss all the possible ways. Let us know if you have any other ideas.

Good luck!

Read also: How To Keep Dust Out Of Tonneau Cover?

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