Whether you are using an electric tarp system or a manual tarp system, the most vulnerable part of either will always be the tarp itself. That is not to say the mechanism controlling the tarp is of any less importance. The system’s life span in service, if the manufacturer’s guidelines are followed meticulously, can be many, many years. However, the tarp can last for as little as one month to several years depending on how it is applied and content of the load being hauled.
No matter how your truck is strapped, be it the flip tarp system, swing arm system, mousetrap system, cable tarp system, accordion system, pull style system, auto-tarper and side dump tarp system (to name a few) or whether you have to flip a switch, engage a crank or pull ropes to retract the tarp, these variants all share some basic methods of maintenance, so let get right into it.
Tarping mechanisms, without incident, can last between 5 to 6 years straight. As for the tarp, it’s life span can vary, depending, primarily, on the material your tarp is made of plus the cargo it is protecting. Generally, tarps are subject to the elements, so whether your tarp is made of tarpaulin, canvas, heavy duty mesh or even vinyl, here are a few maintenance tips that can greatly extend its lifespan.
1. Get a tarp wind deflector
Sold as a separate unit, wind deflectors can help deflect wind shear from your tarp surface, reducing flapping and strain on the fabric. Especially if your schedules are situated in areas with erratic wind changes or you do a lot of high-speed driving, a wind deflector will help extend its lifespan from wear and tear.
2. Shield your tarp whenever it is spooled up:
Cover your tarp system with wood boards while not in use, whether is it spooled up or extracted. This will protect it from the elements, hail, rain, direct sunlight and even bugs.
3. Routine checks on the mechanism
Extract and retract your tarp system to test the working conditions of the system from time to time. Doing that can bring your attention to little needs so you can stitch that up before you need to replace a whole system.
4. Patching your tarp
In the even of a tear in your tarp, you must understand that there are proper methods and procedures to patching your tarps. Smaller tears can be repaired using tarp tape or vinyl glue. Damages more substantial will need to be patched with strong glue or a stitching. First clean the area of the tear to remove small debris that can loosen glue and then patch the tarp from the inside. For a DIY instructions on patching tarps, see How to fix a tarp on Tarp Stop.
Overall, maintaining your tarp system is relatively easy. Howbeit, in situations where there may be improper functioning of the retracting mechanism, it is advisable to call an expert for best results. If you want more information servicing and maintenance of your tarp systems, check out the Tarp Association’s safety and maintenance guide.