With so many different car covers on the market it is so difficult to differentiate what your money buys you and the level of protection this will provide your pride and joy.
We have written this article to help you make an informed and best practice decision on anything from long term car storage to classic car storage. To begin with we have to ask the question: what properties should a car cover have?
Breathable: A cover may well be waterproof, however this can result in moisture becoming trapped underneath the cover from condensation or moisture from the various under bonnet reservoirs. A cover therefore should be manufactured from breathable material so that any moisture beneath the cover is allowed to evaporate through the fabric. Beware of non-breathable fabrics with vents positioned on the roofline, as where there are no vents, dampness will form.
Non Hydroscopic: Natural fibers such as cotton are hydroscopic meaning that they will absorb moisture from the surrounding atmosphere and become damp, not what you need when trying to preserve the condition of your pride and joy. Man-made materials are a good choice for car covers as these are non-hydroscopic.
One of the main requirements of a car cover will be to protect your vehicle from dust and dirt contaminating the exterior paintwork. As specified, a cover should be breathable, to achieve this a cover will have tiny holes in the material. However to ensure good dust protection properties, the cover should be of multilayer construction, layers of breathable material in which the holes in each layer should not line up. Perfect for short and long term car storage.
Any car cover, no matter how soft and luxurious WILL SCRATCH if placed on an unwashed car. Therefore it is always imperative that a car cover is always only placed on a clean car. The material of the car cover should have a man-made soft lining which will also help prevent scratches being introduced into the paintwork when putting on and taking off the cover. It is also advisable that covers are laundered periodically to remove any dust/grit particles which may accumulate over time.
A well fitting cover looks good and is also functional, however a tight fitting cover (such as fully tailored) will prevent insufficient air circulation beneath a cover. Covers which are stretched over a vehicle tends to open the weave of the fabric allowing dust to filter through. For these reasons fully tailored covers are only recommended for dehumidified clean garages. Too large a cover and it can easily touch the ground picking up harmful grit and dirt particles or slip off the car altogether.
Outdoor car covers
- Waterproof: Whilst an outdoor cover should have good water resistance, 100% water resistance should be avoided as this will result in the inability for the cover to breathe and for air to circulate. Therefore multilayer fabrics provide good water resistance and allow air to circulate.
- UV protection: It is important to protect your vehicle from UV light when not in use as these rays over time lead to: tyres perishing, rubber seals drying out and paintwork to become dull. Any cover will filter out this damaging UV light, however a light colour such as silver or white will reflect the sun’s rays, keeping the car beneath cooler than a darker colour. (Darker colours absorb UV rays leading to a build up in heat).
- Straps to secure: One of the biggest risks of using an outdoor car cover is from moving in the wind and chaffing the paintwork. To help prevent this the cover should have an elasticated hem to the front and rear and straps which sling beneath the vehicle in at least two places (font and rear) to securely hold the cover in place.
Ideally a car/bike cover should be semi tailored so that it is a good fit, but not too tight and made from a multi layer, breathable fabric. Fully tailored covers should only be used in controlled environments where dust and humidity can be controlled. These covers will not provide any better protection to a vehicle than a semi-tailored cover, their only advantage is that they will look sleek showing off the cars lines even with the cover on. The next area to consider are car/bike storage ‘bubbles’.