Car Cover Research and Buying Guides
The process of researching and purchasing a car cover can be an overwhelming task. There are dozens of different types, materials, brands and retailers and ensuring that you select the right cover for your needs should be a top priority. The guides and videos found throughout this website are based on inside knowledge and were written by a car cover professional with decades of exterior vehicle protection experience. We'll go over everything from the basics of selecting your first protective cover to addressing more advanced topics like how to choose a high quality multi-layer cover, the truth about waterproof car covers, which brands to avoid, and why there is no such thing as a "hail proof" cover.
Why You Should Consider a Car Cover
Using a car cover is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to protect your vehicle from threats like harsh weather, damaging sun, bird droppings, dings and scratches. They're even a great way to protect your car, truck, SUV, or van from theft and break-ins. Companies like Covercraft and Coverking have spent decades designing and developing protective vehicle covers and, as a result, they're available in a wide variety of fabrics and prices. Even if you're able to keep your vehicle inside a garage, it's still vulnerable to damage from things like dirt and dust particles, house pets, and small dents, dings, and scratches. So if you've never considered a car cover or don't think you need one, you may want to reconsider.
Types of Car Covers
Most of the car covers available for purchase fall into 1 of 3 different categories: universal, semi-custom, and custom-fit. Universal car covers are usually available in at least 4 different sizes and those 4 patterns can typically cover 80% of vehicles on the road. Semi-custom car covers are commonly available in 6 different sizes and 4 different cuts for each vehicle type for a total of around 200 different patterns. Those 200 different patterns cover 95% of vehicles on the road. Finally, a custom or custom-fit car cover is made specifically for the year, make, model, and body style of the vehicle it was purchased for. Manufacturers are constantly adding new custom patterns therefore custom car covers are available for the majority of cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans on the road and it's not uncommon for them to maintain libraries of more than 80,000 vehicle patterns.
Unconventional Vehicle Cover Uses
Vehicle covers aren't just for protecting a car, truck, SUV, or van from environmental threats like rain, snow, and sun. They have some common but more unconventional uses as well.
New Car Surprises
We all see commercials during the holidays where someone surprises their husband or wife with a shiny new car in the driveway. As cheesy as the idea is, some people are lucky enough to receive a new vehicle as a gift. What better way to create a little bit of suspense around the unveiling of a new car than by covering it with a car cover for the lucky recipient to unwrap? I've also seen this technique used by parents giving newly licensed-to-drive teenagers their first cars and it certainly makes the occasion that much more fun and exciting.
Trailered Car Protection
Covers are great for protecting vehicles being trailered. If you've ever moved yourself across country with a U-Haul truck, there's a good chance you towed your car behind on a trailer. Vehicles being trailered are especially susceptible to damage from rocks and gravel kicked up by the tires of the truck towing them and the best car covers on the market will help protect trailered cars from that damage. If you decide to use a car cover while trailering a vehicle, make sure you purchase one rated for trailering with a strapping system to ensure the cover stays secured to the vehicle while on the road.
Auto covers are an easy and inexpensive way to deter break-ins and theft. They can be used to disguise high-value vehicles parked outdoors and make it much more difficult for potential thieves to see what kinds of valuables might be inside. When used in conjunction with a lock and cable kit, would-be car thieves would be forced to physically cut the cover off your vehicle to get inside. So, if you live in an area where garage or indoor parking simply isn't an option, consider buying a car cover and using it as a first line of defense against potential vehicle theft.
The Most Damaging Vehicle Threats
Your vehicle faces a barrage of threats just about everywhere it goes. While there isn't much you can do about poor drivers or texting teenagers, you can do something about the following 5 environmental threats.
Acid rain contains abnormally high levels of acidity, specifically elevated levels of hydrogen. It is believed to be caused by the emission of both nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide and is particularly common throughout the sastern United States. Not only is acid rain dangerous and damaging to plant and animal life, but it can do serious damage to anything left exposed outside; this includes vehicles. Acid rain damage appears as permanently etched spots on a car's paint.
Sun & UV Rays
Extended or regular exposure to the sun and UV rays can be extremely damaging not only to the exterior of a vehicle, but to the interior as well. The sun's heat and harmful UV rays can fade vehicle paint, discolor headlight enclosures, and also cause irreversible damage to your dashboard and any portion of your vehicle's interior that its rays can reach. Reflective car covers and sun shades are one of the best lines of defense for vehicles exposed to sun often.
Water can be one of the most difficult threats to protect a car against. Over time, it finds its way into the cracks and crevices of your vehicle which ultimately results in rust. If you live near the coast, the salt in the air can accelerate rusting so you need to be especially careful. Waterproof and water resistant car covers are one of the best ways to prevent water from building up in the cracks of your vehicle's exterior and they can be purchased easily and relatively inexpensively.
If you live in an area that experiences prolonged wind, then you've probably seen the damage it can cause. Protecting your automobile from the dirt, dust, and debris that strong winds can stir up is important part of keeping it looking like new. When you use a protective cover in especially windy areas, it's very important to also use a lock and cable kit or gust guard kit to make sure the cover stays safely secured to the vehicle it's protecting.
If you've ever parked your car under a treat for an extended period of time, chances are you had to clean some tree sap off your paint. Many people intentionally park under trees for protection from things like the hot sun. Little do they realize, they're actually exposing their car to something equally as damaging as UV rays; tree sap. Sap from trees is not only sticky and difficult to remove, it also contains minerals that can cause permanent damage to your vehicle's clear coat and paint.
Stormproof™ by Coverking —
The Stormproof™ custom car cover by Coverking is a lightweight protective cover that can be applied and removed quickly and easily. This makes it an ideal cover to take with you and use anywhere you park your vehicle. The unique micro-fiber material combines superior water resistance with breathable technology to create a great all-weather cover. The integrated mirror pockets allow for a snug fit that holds up nicely in moderate to high winds. Stormproof™ is a great choice for anyone interested in fantastic outdoor protection in a tailored custom fit.
Commonly Asked Questions
How long do car covers typically last?
How long a car cover lasts can depend on many different factors. Quality of the cover, quality of the fit, and quality of manufacturing all determine how many years you should expect out of a vehicle cover. Here are a few general rules to follow:
- Custom covers last longer than semi-custom and universal covers.
- Covers with multiple layers of material last longer than single layer covers.
- Covers which are regularly and properly cleaned last longer than those which are neglected.
- American made covers almost always last longer than imported ones.
Lastly, don't be fooled by the warranty length of any products you might be considering. Product warranties are not reflective of the quality of a product. Unfortunately, many car cover retailers advertise longer warranties in an attempt to lure orders away from retailers selling higher quality products. Then they make the process of completing a warranty claim lengthly and difficult with hopes that the customer will give up and go elsewhere.
How do you put on and take off a car cover?
Knowing how to properly put on and remove a car cover is an important piece of ensuring you don't cause any damage to either your car or the cover itself. It's not a difficult process and once you get the hang of it, it should only take you a few seconds to both apply and remove the cover. Here are the general steps to follow:
- Place the rolled or folded cover on the roof or hood of the vehicle you'll be covering.
- Gently unroll or unfold the cover from the front of the car to the rear and then down the sides.
- Help the vehicle's side mirrors into the mirror pockets if your cover has them.
- Carefully secure the cover to the vehicle using any straps, gust guards, or lock and cable kits that came with the cover.
To safely remove a car cover, simply follow the above steps in reverse order. Keep in mind that if your cover is wet when you remove it, mold and mildew can form on the outer layers if you don't give it an adequate amount of time to dry.
How do you clean a car cover?
Properly cleaning and caring for your car cover will help prolong its life ensuring you'll be able to use it to protect your vehicle for years to come. It is usually recommended that you clean your cover 6-8 times per year and anytime dirt, grime, mold, or mildew begins to form on any outer or inner layer. Here are a few general instructions for proper car cover cleaning:
- Never use your home washing machine or dryer to clean your car cover.
- Gently hand wash your cover with lukewarm water, a mild cleanser like Woolite®, and a a soft brush.
- Hang dry your cover in a sheltered outdoor area.
- Don't place the cover back on your vehicle until it's completely dry.
If you follow these simple steps and perform a gentle wash 6-8 times per year, not only will your auto cover continue looking like new, but it will ensure the cover keeps on protecting even after your warranty period has expired.
About The Author
Curtis is an avid car and automotive enthusiast who has worked in the automotive and car cover industry for more than 20 years. Curtis spent over 10 of those years working on product development for Covercraft, the leading manufacturer of custom automotive covers. While at Covercraft, Curtis oversaw the successful design, sourcing, and development of many of Covercrafts best-selling custom-fit products. Curtis is an expert in all things car covers including types, materials, fabrics, brands, and retailers that are currently selling the various cover products on the market. Curtis is also extremely familiar with the primary Covercraft competitor, Coverking. Coverking manufactures custom, semi-custom, and universal vehicle covers for cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans.
Curtis's first car was a yellow 1966 Volkswagen Bug. After restoring it to it's original beauty, Curtis sold it and upgraded to a Ford Mustang and he's been a Mustang owner ever since. In his spare time, Curtis enjoys working on his 1969 Mustang Fastback as well as spending as much time, preferably outdoors, with his wife and 2 dogs as he can.
Occasionally, we reach out to other experienced automotive industry professionals for opinions and assistance with various guides and vehicle protection articles that can be found on this website. We believe this helps foster a broader and more accurate account of the automotive related subjects that we choose to write about.