Help With Your Box Liner Decision

Spray on? Slidein? One is not necessarily better than the other, but the slide-in variety might be a little less susceptible to denting.

You just brought that brand new pickup. It’s all shiny and clean and you’ve vowed to keep it that way. It’s not that difficult a task — until you consider the pickup box. How do you keep that from being all scratched up?

The obvious answer is a box liner, but what kind? Spray on? Slide-in?

One is not necessarily better than the other, but the slide-in variety might be a little less susceptible to denting.

Then you have a box cover to consider. A tonneau cover keeps the weather out, protects cargo (so long as it does not extend above the box rails) and keeps goods out of sight. What will it cost all cost?

Manufacturers such as Toyota, Nissan, General Motors, Ford and Dodge have dealer-installed bed covers, box liners and side rail protectors available. Bed mats start from about $130 for a 6.5-foot box. Rail protectors start at about $160, and bed liners around $370. The box liner can run you up to the $600 range, depending on manufacturer.

Soft, folding tonneau covers start around $550 and run over $600 while the hard type can cost over $1,600.

The downside to hard covers is that they need to be removed if you’re going to carry a tall load.

There’s a downside to slide in box liners, too. If you’re carrying loads like sand or dirt you will find grit gets under the mat where cargo hooks protrude. You need to cover those or you’ll discover a scratched paint job on your box when you remove the liner.

You’re not locked into dealing with your truck’s manufacturer. A number of after-market suppliers sell almost any kind of liner you can imagine — even wood. Prices run the gamut from around $78 for a box mat to well over $2,500 for a state-of-the-art tonneau cover.

Another option offered by after-market dealers is a spray-on liner, usually applied to a thickness of one eighth of an inch, although it can be put on thicker if you require. The price? Around $500.

Harry Pegg is an automobile writer based in Calgary, Alta.

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