Whether you buy an expensive cooler from Yeti or a cheap cooler from Igloo or Walmart a common problem with a lot of coolers as they age is that the lids begin to warp and bend upwards – ruining the seal between the lid and the body of the cooler.
This seems to be more prominent the larger the cooler is and while it's more common in cheaper coolers it does still happen to expensive coolers like Yeti.
If your cooler lid is bent or warped what can you do about it and how can you fix it?
Why Is Your Cooler Lid Warping?
Over time and as it's exposed to changes in temperature, UV radiation exposure and other outside forces plastic will begin to lose it's shape and warp in ways you don't really want it to.
This is caused from inconsistent compression of the plastic and the main cause is when the cooling of the plastic isn't uniform, causing internal stress and leading to the plastic forming uneven shapes.
There are 2 main things that tend to lead to cooler lids warping:
When you leave your cooler out in the sun the plastic can get extremely hot and over time this can lead to warping.
One of the problems with Ozark Trail coolers for example is that they seem susceptible to this warping in direct sunlight. But this isn't unique to Ozark Trail and can happen with any brand of cooler. You may experience a bubble in the lid of the corners warping out.
To avoid this keep your cooler out of direct sunlight.
Inconsistent or Excess Pressure
Someone heavy sitting on your cooler can potentially cause the lid to warp. However, even the downward pressure caused by the rubber latches on coolers like Yeti can be enough pressure to cause the corners to warp outwards.
So if you've got warping in your cooler lid what are some of the ways you can fix it?
1. Claim A Replacement (If It’s Still Under Warranty)
The first thing you should do is see if your cooler is still under warranty.
Come brands have very short warranty periods so if you've purchased a cheap cooler like Igloo then chances are you'll be out of luck here.
But if you've purchased an expensive cooler like Yeti then you've likely got at least a 3 to 5 year warranty period on your cooler.
In fact, there are a variety of brands now that offer a lifetime warranty on their coolers and may send you a replacement lid (or a full replacement cooler) if you let them know about the issue. Click here to see the best coolers with lifetime warranties.
The below video shows a user who had issues with his Yeti Tundra Haul where the corners bent up. He did a warranty claim and the video below shows how Yeti responded.
The process only took him about 12 days and he ended up with a brand new cooler. Great to see Yeti standing behind their products.
2. Take It Out Of The Sun (It Might Bend Back By Itself)
If you've only just noticed that your lid has warped recently then it's potentially just from exposure to the sun and the plastic being heated up too much.
Sometimes by taking your cooler out of the sun and putting it in a cool location the warping can actually disappear.
For more extremely warped coolers or coolers that have been warped for some time now this method is unlikely to work.
3. Use A Heat Gun, Hair Dryer or Boiling Water And Bend It Back Into Shape
High end coolers like Yeti are made from a roto-molded polyethylene (PET/HDPE) plastic shell while cheaper blow molded coolers like Igloo are made from a polypropylene (PP) shell.
As the cooler heats up in the sun the plastic can meet it's melting point and begin to bend and warp. But you can also use heat to bend and warp the plastic back into shape.
Both of these plastics are flexible over long distances but are quite rigid over short distances. However, warming them up can allow you to bend them back into shape.
To do this detach the lid from the cooler prior to heating and bending it.
Use a heat gun, hair dryer or soak the lid in boiling water to make it more malleable and then bend it back into shape using whatever method you can think of.
This may be manually by pushing down on the corners and bending them. You could do it in a vice or some sort of straightening machine or you could simply place the lid upside down and chock up the 4 corners and place a heavy weight in the middle to force the bend to happen at the corners.
You want to make sure you don't over bend and you also want to make sure that you don't burn the plastic.
Needless to say – manually bending your cooler lid can potentially cause damage to the lid and is extremely likely to void your cooler's warranty.
4. Leave It In The Sun (in Summer) Then Bend It Back Into Shape
If you don't want to apply heat directly to it because you're scared of overheating and ruining the plastic then you could just leave your cooler lid out in direct sunlight in summer.
Let it get hot over the space of a couple of hours and then bend it into place using one of the methods mentioned above.
5. Take The Lid Off, Chock Up The Corners (Upside Down) and Weight The Middle
This method you could do with or without the heating methods mentioned above.
Detach your cooler lid from your cooler and place it upside down using wooden blocks, books, chairs or anything you have handy to prop up the corners of the cooler.
The place a heavy weight in the middle of the cooler so it's applying pressure in the opposite direction of the bent corners.
Leave this for hours, days or even weeks to bend the cooler back into shape.
The more weight you add the more bend you're going to get, but you don't want to overweight and over bend it.
6. Turn It Upside Down and Place Weight On Top To Bend It Back Into Shape
Keeping the lid attached to the cooler simply turn the cooler upside down and place heavy items on top of the cooler to provide a downward force to the lid.
The heavier the better (within reason).
This can be a good method for storing your cooler for the long term and can prevent the lid from warping in the first place or can restore the lid if it has been warped in the past.
7. Add DIY Latches or Bolts To The Corners/Bent Areas To Tightly Pull The Lid Into The Cooler
Yeti coolers and other similar expensive coolers often have holes in the corners which are primarily designed for padlocks to make them completely bear proof.
However, you can also use these corner holes to bend the cooler back into shape.
Simply place a nut and bolt through the cooler and tighten it completely. Then leave your cooler in the sun to bend back into shape. I'd leave the rubber latches undone to encourage warping in the opposite direction.
The longer you leave it like this the more likely you are to restore your cooler lid's shape.
8. Add Extra Latches To The Bent Parts Of Your Cooler Lid
You could also add your own latches to different areas of cooler lids to pull it down every time you shut it. But this would involve buying or creating latches that you can connect whenever you close your cooler lid.
These rubber cam latches from Amazon can be added to add cooler and can help to bend the lid back down if applied in the right locations.
These black rubber draw latches are made of flexible rubber with stainless steel keeper and bracket. Easy to install and can be used on a variety of products from coolers to cargo boxes.
Alternatively you can get different latches that might be easier to use.
These rubber T latches with brackets from Amazon are similar to the rubber latches on Yeti coolers but also features brackets that you can add to any part of your cooler.
8. Add A Stick On Gasket To Create A Seal Despite The Bend
If you don't want to go to the effort of bending back your cooler lid, or you tried and it didn't work then you can instead simply get a stick on rubber gasket to place around the area the lid has bent up.
Now when you close your lid it'll push on the rubber gasket and you'll still get a good seal.
Made from durable non-slip rubber with a groove design this gasket replacement fits Yeti 45 coolers and smaller.
Easy to replace and high quality this is a great way to replace a broken or damaged seal.
9. Use Tie Down Ropes To Force The Lid Down
If you don't want to buy brackets then you can simply use rope or tie downs in order to pull down the sides of your cooler and keep them shut.
You can see someone doing this with their large Coleman cooler in the video below.
It works well, but isn't super practical if you're regularly opening your cooler. But it can be a good long term storage solution to fix the warped corners of your cooler lid.