You don’t need us telling you vehicles are expensive purchases. That’s why all car owners try protecting their vehicles the best they can. However, a car cover is still an accessory many forget about—or outright disregard.
Car covers come in all shapes and sizes. They’re built to keep your car or truck safe from the elements. There are outdoor car covers, which keep rain, hail, snow, and the sun from damaging your car. Then, there are indoor car covers, which keep your vehicle pristine even when it’s parked in a garage.
Getting a car cover is definitely a good investment. After all, you’ll want to keep your beloved vehicle intact and in great working condition. And the best part is that even the best car covers are pretty affordable. Just like air fresheners and blind-spot mirrors, we think they’re a much-needed accessory.
Today, we’re bringing you a list of the top 11 best car cover products of 2020. Pick any of these items and you’re good to go. We’ve also included a buying guide to help you find the exact cover you need on your own. Lastly, you’ll find a list of frequently asked questions, answered, about this auto must-have.
Why Buy a Car Cover?
It’s true: a car cover isn’t a necessity. Your car will still run great if you don’t cover it up when it’s parked outside or in the garage. However, it will inevitably get dirty. Car covers prevent your vehicle’s paint job from getting damaged by debris and the elements.
For instance, when you use a car cover, your car won’t be covered in bird poop a week after you got it cleaned. It won’t get its paint job all scratched when the wind picks up and flings small pebbles everywhere. Nor will it be covered in that sticky tree goo that falls from branches and leeches from flowers. It also won’t be practically coated in dust after it rains.
As you can see, getting a cover for your car could be very beneficial. It avoids messes and keeps your car looking brand new for much, much longer. If you want to get the most out of the investment you made in your beloved vehicle, we highly recommend getting a car cover.
How to Wash a Car Cover?
You can wash most outdoor and indoor car covers. Follow these steps to get the cover nice and clean:
- Put the cover around your dry, clean car.
- With a low-pressure setting on your hose, gently spray the entire cover with cold water.
- In a bucket, dilute a mild liquid detergent and cleanse the cover with a soft sponge.
- Hang the cover to air dry for at least 6 hours, or until it’s completely dry.
Sometimes, this kind of wash won’t cut it, especially if the cover is riddled with bird droppings and tree sap. In those instances, you’ll need a deeper, more thorough cleaning. Follow these steps:
- Put the cover in a large commercial washing machine (such as the larger ones at laundromats)
- Add a delicate soap to help remove the more stubborn stains.
- Set it to a gentle cycle with cold water to avoid making holes in the cover.
- Hang the cover to air dry for 6 hours, or until it’s dry.
Before following these steps, check the label on the cover to make sure it’s okay to wash it. Some covers, namely the ones that have multiple layers, can only be hand-washed. If you’re in doubt because the retailer doesn’t mention washing the cover, try gently hand-washing it, as you shouldn’t run into any problems.
Types of Covers for Cars
There are mainly three types of covers for SUVs, cars, and trucks. They’re classified in three different ways by manufacturers, depending on what they’re designed to do.
Indoor car covers are meant to be used (you guessed it) indoors. For instance, when your car is parked in the garage for long stretches of time, you’d protect it with an indoor cover.
Most people see these covers as somewhat unnecessary, but they’re not. If you’ve ever left your car parked in a garage for long periods of time (for example, when you’ve gone on vacation), you’ll know just how dusty it can get.
Indoor covers are usually only water-resistant, meaning they can safeguard your vehicle from moisture up to a certain point. After all, they’re not waterproof. They’re also thinner and less robust because they’re not meant to be exposed to strong winds, hail, snow, or rain.
Their upside is they’re usually cheapest and get the job done well.
Of course, outdoor car covers are meant to be used outdoors. So, if you park your car in the driveway, you can cover it with one of these items. They come in all shapes and sizes to fit all kinds of vehicles.
Because they’re usually exposed to the elements (wind, snow, rain), they’re sturdier. Most of the time, they’re made with multiple layers to ensure water doesn’t seep through. They’ll also have sewn-in buckled and elastic hems to keep the cover in place during windier days and nights. On top of that, the best car covers to use outdoors have a UV-ray protection layer so the sun doesn’t ruin your car’s paint job or heat up the inside of your car too much.
Since they have all these fancy features, you can expect to pay more for them. After all, they’re made with care using more resistant fabrics and materials.
These are the hail Mary of covers. They’ve been designed to withstand virtually all weather conditions (within reason, of course). Hail damage accounts for many car insurance claims, especially in states such as Nebraska, Texas, Colorado, and South Dakota.
In addition to protecting your vehicle from the rain, snow, and sun, they’ll also safeguard it from hail and heavier pebbles flung around by strong winds.
If you live in regions where storms pop up from anywhere (such as the Midwest), these kinds of covers are for you—especially if you don’t have room in your garage for one more vehicle.
It’s not easy to find a good all-weather cover for cars and trucks. They’re relatively rare and some sellers try to pass off outdoor car covers for all-weather covers. Keep an eye out for a cover that is either super tough and can tense up when you install it on your vehicle or for one that inflates. The one we’ve listed is the best, in our opinion.
Which Car Cover Is Best?: Buying Guide
If you’re not happy with any of the covers we’ve listed, you can look online or in stores for a cover that checks all the boxes for you. To guide you in your search, we’ve put together this car cover buying guide.
Size and Fit
First and foremost, measure your vehicle and note it down. You’ll need to know how long, wide, and tall it is. Alternatively, you could also write down the make, model, and year of your vehicle and ask store staff for help.
The reason why this should be your first priority is so that you can find a cover that fits snugly. One that’s too large or too small won’t protect your car as well. Plus, there’s a big chance it would fly off when the wind picks up.
Indoor or Outdoor?
Then, think of how you want to use the cover. Would you use it to cover your car or truck, which is always parked in the garage? If so, you’ll need an indoor cover. Would you use it to protect your car, which usually stays outside? In that case, you’d need an outdoor cover.
You can certainly use outdoor car covers indoors. But if you have no plans for leaving your vehicle parked outside, buying a cheaper indoor cover makes more sense.
Also, if you usually park your car outdoors, think of how likely it is to storm in your area. If there’s a big chance of it hailing where you live but you can’t leave your car indoors, you should invest in an all-weather cover.
Ease of Use
When you see a cover you like, ask yourself, “Is this cover easy to put on and take off?” You don’t want to end up with an impractical cover. Otherwise, you’ll never want to go through the trouble of covering your vehicle with it.
Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant
A waterproof cover is always better at repelling moisture than a water-resistant cover. The former never lets water seep through the fabric, while the latter does.
A water-resistant cover can still be a good investment, though. If it barely ever rains in your area, this kind of cover should be good enough.
If you live in a region where snow and rain are common, opt for a waterproof cover. Do keep in mind that these are usually more expensive.
Getting a cover with UV-ray protection is a great idea. UV-rays can damage your vehicle’s paint job, making it look worn out faster. In addition to that, they can quickly raise the temperature inside your vehicle, which isn’t good for leather seats and other delicate inside finishes.
As we’ve mentioned, there aren’t a lot of outdoor car covers that effectively protect against hail. You’d have to find an inflatable cover or one that’s incredibly strong, almost as sturdy as a hard surface.
Of course, these are much pricier than regular covers that protect only against wind, snow, and rain. But if you’ve ever had to get your car fixed after a particularly bad hail storm, you know just how pricy that can be.
When the wind picks up, you don’t want your cover blowing off never to be seen again. Thus, you’ll need to invest in a cover with elastic hems and adjustable buckles. These locking systems ensure your car will still be protected even in windy conditions.
Usually, you’ll find that these adjustable buckles are meant to be fastened under the wheels and under the body of your car. This is the safest way of keeping your cover in place.
Lastly, check if the buckles are attached to the cover with strong stitches. Otherwise, there’s a big chance the wind could rip the cover from your car.
It’s important to look at the quality of the lining material. You want your cover to be lined with soft fabric (usually a fleece, as the image below shows) so it doesn’t scratch your vehicle. If the lining is too rough, it could leave permanent scratches on any car or truck.
Lastly, think of which car cover material is best. There’s no straight answer to this question, as it depends on what the cover will be exposed to. But, as a rule of thumb, pick a fabric that has water resistance (if not waterproof qualities), is sturdy, and has UV-ray protection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a car cover protect from the sun?
Yes, it can! Some outdoor car covers are made from fabric that can reflect UV-rays without absorbing them. The ones that have it always advertise it as one of their features. On top of that, a silver, almost mirror-like finish is typically a good indication that it will repel UV-rays.
Can a car cover damage your paint?
Unfortunately, there is a chance it could. To avoid having your paint scratched, look for covers with a soft lining.
Can a car cover be washed?
Generally speaking, yes it can. Some covers come with a label forbidding against machine washing, but not all. However, the vast majority of covers can be hand-washed if you do it gently and with the right kind of detergent.
Can a car cover scratch my car?
Possibly. Covers with a rough lining can easily lead to scratches.
Can a car cover prevent hail damage?
Only covers specifically designed to withstand hail can effectively protect your car or truck from hail. A run-of-the-mill outdoor cover will not prevent hail damage to your vehicle.
Can a car cover cause rust?
Some covers could cause rust and mold buildups. If the cover isn’t breathable and you put it on while your car is wet, it could lead to the pain rusting.
How often should I wash my car cover?
Whenever the cover is looking dirty, you could give it a quick wash. If it’s covered in sap or bird droppings, you should wash it, too. This will ensure the material doesn’t deteriorate and stays good as new.
How to keep a car cover from blowing off?
Covers that come with adjustable buckles and elastic hems are not likely to blow off. Look for a cover with these two features and you won’t need to worry about it flying off.
Will a car cover protect from snow?
If it’s a waterproof cover, it certainly will. This is one of the best reasons to get a cover for your car or truck: so that in winter mornings you don’t need to scrape ice or snow off your car.