Gator SFX Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover: Affordable Soft Bed Cover For 2nd & 3rd Gen (2005-2023) Tacoma – Install, Review & Overview
There are so many tonneau covers on the market that it may be hard to narrow your search to just one. I know we had a really hard time initially picking which would work best for our needs without spending a ton of money. Enter the Gator SFX Tonneau Cover. Not only is it reasonably priced but we aren’t sacrificing function and protection with this cover.
Today we’ll be going over how to install this tonneau cover as well as give everyone some insight into why this may be a perfect fit for your Tacoma.
Although we are covering this on a 3rd Gen, Gator makes these covers for a very wide range of trucks. Just check your fitment.
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- Gator SFX Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover: Check Price
Gator SFX Tonneau Cover
Table of Contents
What Is A Tonneau Cover?
Tonneau covers are a must-have for any truck owner. They are a practical and stylish solution to keep your truck bed protected. These covers serve as a barrier against the elements, ensuring that your cargo remains secure and untouched by weather or prying eyes.
They come in various styles, each offering unique features and benefits. Among the different types available on the market are hard folding, soft folding, roll-up, and retractable covers, each catering to different needs and preferences.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at the Gator SFX Tonneau Cover, a soft folding tonneau cover that you can get for your Tacoma.
SFX Cover Overview
The SFX Tonneau Cover stands out as a promising option for Tacoma owners seeking practicality and style. On the positive side, this cover is super simple to install, even requiring no additional tools. Its design provides up to two-thirds of bed access, accommodating oversized cargo with ease. Notably, the cover’s foam rubber seals successfully help prevent water intrusion, ensuring that your belongings remain dry even in inclement weather. Opening and closing the cover is a breeze, making it convenient for daily use.
However, no product is without its drawbacks. One concern that we personally had was with the cover’s relatively thin material. This may make it susceptible to potential slashing or break-ins. But we never experience either, but that is just something to note if you’re looking for ideal security.
The SFX’s construction prioritizes quality and durability. It is crafted with premium tear-resistant vinyl, it’s designed to withstand the test of time. The vinyl grain finish adds an aesthetic touch, enhancing the visual appeal of your Tacoma. This cover’s engineering also allows for safe driving when it’s open, thanks to the integrated fasteners. Additionally, the innovative “Speed Klamp” mechanism simplifies unlocking and opening the cover, ensuring quick and hassle-free access to your truck bed.
- very lightweight
- mix of quality materials (tear-resistant marine-grade vinyl cover, foam seals)
- fastening buckles for secure mounting
- simple and fast clamping system
- reinforcement for optimum strength
- tool-free installation
- great warranty
Before delving into the installation process, it’s crucial to note the compatibility of the SFX Tonneau Cover with your vehicle.
This specific cover is available for both 2nd & 3rd gen Tacoma and it is offered for both 5’2″ and 6’2″ bed sizes. For our setup, we have a 2021 Toyota Tacoma with a 5’2″ bed.
Things To Note Before Installing
Preparation for installation requires minimal effort. While tools are not required, an Allen key provided with the cover, will be used to secure the bolts. I would consider having a flashlight handy, as you might need it during the process.
Step 1. Weather Proof Truck Bed
Before beginning the installation of your SFX Tonneau Cover, it’s essential to weatherproof the bed of your Tacoma. This step ensures that your cargo remains protected from water intrusion in various weather conditions.
There will be two parts to weatherproofing your bed. Part one will be the foam caps that are secured onto the front part of the bed, near the window. The second part will be the weatherproof strip that will be attached to the rear end of the bed where the tailgate latches on.
For a visual guide on the proper weatherstripping technique, you can watch this step-by-step video tutorial.
Step 2. Pre-Assemble Plate Brackets
Start by pre-assembling the plate brackets. To assemble these, slide a washer onto each bolt and pass them through the corresponding bracket. Loosely secure the plate onto the back of the bracket, holding the components in place.
Repeat this process for all four plate brackets. This preliminary setup streamlines the installation and ensures that you’re ready to proceed smoothly.
Step 3. Remove Tie Downs (optional)
If you have any tie-downs, or the Yoda heads like I call them, remove them before installing the tonneau cover. Removing the tie-downs involves a simple process – gently pull them out and then unscrew them.
Step 4. Slide Bracket Plate Into Bed Rail
Once you’ve completed the initial preparation steps, it’s time to move on to secure the brackets to your bed. This involves sliding the bracket plates into the U-channel of the truck bed.
To begin, gently open the U-channel by removing the plastic end clip. This clip can be released by applying a slight inward pressure. With the U-channel open, carefully insert the bracket plate, making sure that the hook of the plate faces downward. This hook will play a pivotal role in securing the cover effectively.
Position one of the bracket plates towards the front of the truck bed and the other towards the tailgate end. Once the bracket plates are in place, reinsert the plastic end clip into the U-channel.
Remember to repeat these steps on the opposite side of the truck bed, resulting in a total of two bracket plates on each side.
Step 5. Center Tonneau Cover
Achieving proper alignment of the tonneau cover is paramount for a successful installation. A correctly centered cover ensures its stability and enhances the overall aesthetics of your truck.
Start by unfolding the tonneau cover and placing it onto the truck bed. Begin at the front end of the cover, closest to the cabin of the truck. Align this front edge with the front edge of the truck bed. As you proceed, work your way down the cover, ensuring that it remains centered along the bed’s length.
Once the cover is centered, carefully fold it back up without disturbing its position. This step may require some patience and precision, but it’s crucial to maintain the alignment you’ve achieved. With the tonneau cover now centered, you’re ready to continue the installation process.
Step 6. Secure Tonneau Cover
Starting from the front end of the bed closest to the cabin, identify the locking clamp, there will be 4 clamps total. Before pulling the clamps down, carefully slide the bracket plate until it aligns perfectly with the corresponding locking clamp.
With the alignment set, begin tightening the bracket plate to the U-channel using the provided Allen key. You have the flexibility to adjust the bracket’s positioning, however, we have it positioned all the way up. Now that it is tightened, you can lock the tonneau cover to the bed using the clamp.
To lock the tonneau cover, pull the locking clamp downward and slide it close to the bracket. Hook the clamp onto the plate securely. Then, locate the black plastic notch on the clamp and turn it upwards. This ensures that the clamp remains firmly locked onto the truck bed, preventing any unwanted movement.
Repeat these steps for the opposite side of the truck bed, ensuring that both corners are securely fastened.
Now you will move towards the back of the truck bed, closest to the tailgate, where you will secure the last two bracket plates. You’ll essentially repeat a similar process to the one used earlier, except you will see a new locking clamp.
Begin by aligning the bracket plate to the specific locking clamp. Once aligned, secure the bracket plate firmly to the U-channel using the provided Allen key.
Now you can lock the cover to the bracket. To do this start by pulling the locking clamp downward from the tonneau cover. Slide the clamp over to the bracket, ensuring that it’s positioned snugly. Proceed by pulling the clamp further downward and hooking it underneath the hook on the bracket. To complete this process, pull the lever downward to firmly engage the locking mechanism. Repeat this step on the other side.
Finally, shut the tailgate to confirm that the tonneau cover is centered correctly and remains stable.
The installation process of the SFX Tonneau Cover pleasantly surprised us with its simplicity. I think we finished this install in under 20 minutes, even with photos.
Despite initial concerns about the cover’s thin material, its overall quality impressed us, especially considering its price point.
But our favorite part of this cover is that it seamlessly enhances the truck’s appearance and even though the cover sits higher than the bed it doesn’t make any noise even at high speeds.
In off-road conditions, the cover showcased its durability. Cleaning was a breeze, we were able to get most of the dirt out only using a microfiber towel and water.
The cover effectively resisted pinstripes when navigating through branches on trails. Most importantly, it succeeded in keeping our gear dry and free from dust while out on the trails!
In conclusion, the SFX Tonneau Cover is a great choice! Whether you’re seeking protection or aesthetics, you can’t go wrong with this cover.
Its straightforward installation, coupled with its durable materials and reliable locking mechanisms, make it a standout choice in its price range. Whether you’re on a budget or simply aiming to enhance your truck’s appearance, the SFX Tonneau Cover delivers on both fronts. It confidently balances functionality, style, and affordability!