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Pickup trucks are incredibly popular - and for good reason. There are few other vehicles that are as versatile and downright useful than a pickup. In fact, the only major drawback to a pickup is the open bed. That's where a retractable tonneau cover comes in handy. If you're considering a tonneau cover as an accessory for your Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Toyota, or Nissan pickup truck, here are five reasons to go for it.

1. Privacy. You don't need or want to show everyone what you carry in the back of your truck. It's frankly none of their business. A retractable cover for your pickup bed keeps your belongings private.

2. Security. It's an unfortunate truth in today's society that property crimes are up. Particularly in these tough economic times, would-be thieves take every opportunity that comes along. Why give thieves the opportunity to steal your tools or other belongings? A lockable, retractable tonneau cover keeps your items away from prying eyes and helps prevent theft. Those who steal are notorious for choosing targets that are easy; a cover for your pickup bed will likely cause them to look elsewhere.

3. Better gas mileage. With today's economy and rising fuel prices, every penny counts. A retractable tonneau cover makes your pickup more aerodynamic, thus reducing wind resistance. Less wind resistance means that it takes less energy to move your vehicle down the road. Less energy means better gas mileage and savings that you'll see every time you pull up to the pump.

4. Safety. Not only do tonneaus keep your belongings safe from prying eyes and potential thieves, but bed covers also prevent items from flying out of the back of your pickup truck as you're driving down the road. That translates into the peace of mind you gain from knowing that you're taking safe driving to the next level.

5. Convenience. A retractable tonneau cover is the ultimate in convenience. You don't have to worry about having to tie down the items in your pickup truck, and with some models, you don't have to worry about inclement weather. While tonneau covers aren't necessarily waterproof, they are water-resistant, which is enough to get you from point A to point B without worry.

When it comes to selecting the right retractable tonneau cover, whom you buy it from is as important as what you buy. The best place to purchase a cover may be online, but be sure to look for a company that carries all of the brand names and models, such as Pace Edwards JackRabbit, the Full Metal JackRabbit, and the BedLocker. Moreover, ensure that when you're comparing prices, you're comparing apples to apples. Some e-tailers and retailers, for example, don't include the rails and hardware you'll need for installation.

The bottom line? A retractable tonneau cover is a truck accessory that's both practical and stylish. Whether you choose one that operates with a remote control, one with rails that enable you to carry recreational gear above the cover, or a standard, heavy-duty workhorse, it's sure to pay for itself many times over in convenience, security, and safety.

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