Whether you have just finished lovingly restoring an older car, or just driven a shiny new one
out of the showroom, your first thought is likely to be how to keep it in that same pristine
condition. You will probably opt for a car cover, but how will you go about choosing the one
that is right for your car? A surprising number of people buy car covers on the spur of the
moment, believing that any cover will do the job and will certainly be better than no cover at
all. This is a fallacy.
When buying a car cover it is important to do your prior research into the different types
available – and there are many. Although there are two obvious main categories: indoor and
outdoor, there are number of subcategories: waterproof; ‘breathable’ water resistant and
fabric, often cotton, acrylic or polyester, which is non-water resistant. Choosing the right
type for your car means analysing what you expect the cover to do.
If you keep your car in a garage, you probably want to protect it from dust, objects falling
or brushing against it, and possibly household pets. In this case a thick, soft cover,
preferably lined with fleece to make it more ‘breathable’ (thus preventing trapped moisture),
should give your car all the protection it needs indoors. The outer cover can be cotton or
cotton mix material, or flannel for softness and warmth.
For cars kept outdoors, the choice of covers is more complex. You may be seeking protection
from any number of elemental hazards: rain, snow, sleet, sun, falling tree sap, bird droppings
or wind-borne objects. Damage from UV rays, acid rain, industrial pollutants or even volcanic
dust should all be considered. Claws and paws of small animals can also scratch and mark the
paintwork of your car. If you live near the sea, you may have the extra disadvantage of excess
salt in the air while just about anyone, anywhere may want protection from curious eyes or
Outdoor covers need to be waterproof or water resistant, but at the same time must allow the
circulation of air around the car to prevent condensation which can damage the paintwork over
a long period of time. A waterproof cover alone therefore is not enough. This may protect from
a number of damaging effects but for full paintwork protection, a soft, ‘breathable’ inner
lining is essential.
Getting the right fit is also important. Do not be taken in by ‘one size fits all’ claims as
these are rarely true. Often these covers are not secure and may lift in gusty weather and
flap around, which can also damage the paintwork. It is always worth a little extra outlay to
ensure the cover is tailored to your car.
No matter how well the car cover fits, it can still cause scratches if the paintwork is dirty.
Keeping the paintwork clean will therefore preserve it for longer. Existing dirt can easily
rub against the paintwork when fitting and removing the cover or if the cover is buffeted by
strong winds. Learning the best way to fit and remove the cover to cause minimum scratching
will also protect the paintwork and save you time.
Finally, you need to care for your car cover, just as you would car for your car. It needs to
be stored correctly when not in use and also kept clean. Take the time to read the
manufacturer’s instructions for the care of your car cover and you will prolong its life and
give your car the best possible protection.