Car with a black cover
Originally posted August 2018, updated May 2021

If you want to keep your car, truck, or SUV clean and looking its best, proper storage is the only way to go. A durable vehicle cover is essential, whether you're keeping your car in a garage, carport, or driveway. They serve as a key barrier against dirt, debris, scratches, rain, sunlight, and snow. But finding the right cover to fit your needs can be tricky. This car cover buying guide will explain all the need-to-know details to shop for a vehicle cover with confidence.

Indoor or Outdoor Vehicle Covers

When it comes to choosing where to store your car, it's easy to see why indoor storage is the safest option. With that being said, your garage-kept vehicle is still exposed to potential damage from everyday items you may have never even considered!

Family garages that store more than one vehicle have an even greater risk of damage. There's an endless list of possible ways to scratch or dent your car from accidental door dings, contact with metal on clothing, and even toys. Indoor covers give you the peace of mind to know that your vehicle has the additional protection you need.

Though most indoor car covers can be used both inside and outside, they cannot withstand extended outdoor storage. Outdoor-kept vehicles will need a specifically designed heavy-duty cover that can take the constant punishment from all weather conditions without deteriorating. One of the most salient features to keep in mind is water resistance. Since the level of resistance tends to fluctuate depending on quality, make sure to be on the lookout for the features of the cover material.

Wind can be an issue when it comes to outdoor storage. Not only can your cover get blow off your vehicle, but it can also cause paint damage due to the friction on the cover moving rapidly. Be sure to make sure your cover has tie-downs, buckle straps, or Velcro to keep it in place.

If you're not sure whether you should pick an indoor or an outdoor car cover, your best bet is to go for one rated for outdoor use. You then have the flexibility to store your car safely wherever you want.

How often should I use my car cover?

To best preserve your vehicle, we recommend using your car cover whenever your car isn't in use. This is equally applicable for everyday use vehicles and more vintage collector's pieces. The cliche "better safe than sorry" applies here! It may not be the end of the world if you forget to put your cover on, but you never know what might happen. An excellent tip for everyday use vehicles is getting a lightweight cover, so it is easy to put on and take off.

For the best protection, dust or wash your car before covering it again. This prevents grime from being trapped under the cover and resting on your paint. If there is a layer of dirt between the cover and your vehicle, it will act like sandpaper when the cover is moved, potentially causing paint scratches. Also, make sure your car is dry before covering to avoid trapped moisture and the formation of rust.

Contour Fit vs Custom Fit Vehicle Covers

Contour-fit covers are less expensive than custom-fit car covers and often perform just as well. However, if you have a vintage or special edition vehicle, you may want to consider investing in a custom cover to get the exact fit.

The biggest difference between custom and contour covers is the availability of specific features and the price. Unlike contour-fit covers, ustom car covers typically include mirror and antenna pockets. Though custom covers provide a tighter fit, it comes at a cost and a longer delivery time of 2-4 weeks. Custom covers also lack a flexible return policy, which can be unfortunate if you accidentally order the wrong size.

With contour-fit covers, you get a universal fit that provides the same amount of protection for a fraction of the price. Contour covers are also readily available and ship within 1-2 business days so your vehicle can get the protection it needs when it needs it.

Contour vs. Custom fit vehicle covers

Breathable or Waterproof

Why choose a breathable or "water-resistant" cover as opposed to a "waterproof" cover? A completely waterproof cover doesn't allow any moisture to pass through the cover. That may sound great, but it also traps moisture inside that can lead to corrosion, mold, and mildew formation. These are perhaps the most powerful silent threats that can ruin your car's paint job.

In contrast, breathable car covers allow condensation to evaporate quickly. This shortens the amount of time your vehicle is exposed to moisture, which prevents corrosion or mildew.

Learn more about the importance of breathable car covers.

Rain running off of a water-resistant, breathable cover.

UV Protection

The harsh sun can not only damage the clear exterior coat of your paint but also your dashboard, upholstery, and more. All covers offer some protection from the sun but not all protection is created equal. Look for covers rated for high sun and fade resistance. These vehicle covers are typically made of reflective material and help keep your car cooler on the inside while also protecting your car from harsh UV rays.

A heat-reflective car cover is also a great option to have during the summer. These covers are typically lightweight, making them ideal for everyday use. Store the cover in your trunk and easily pull it over your car while you're in the office or taking a day-long shopping trip to keep your car cool until you're back.

Dirt Resistance

Keeping dirt, dust, and debris off of your vehicle is a primary function of any cover, indoor or outdoor. While these particles may seem harmless, their build-up can act like sandpaper. They leave micro-scratches on your car paint that become more pronounced and visible over time.

With that being said, it's also essential to keep the interior of your cover clean. Dirt from inside your cover can transfer to your vehicle and continue to be a threat to your expensive paint.

A little care goes a long way. Learn how to clean your vehicle cover. Your cover should also be folded and stored in a cover storage bag while not in use for optimal protection.

Vehicle Cover Storage

More likely than not, your car, truck, or SUV isn't going to stay covered 24/7. Keeping your cover away from harsh chemicals or sharp objects will promote longevity and extend the use of your cover. Our car cover storage bags are practical options that let you store your cover in any easy-to-reach nook or cranny in your garage.

Putting on and taking off your vehicle cover can be challenging, especially if you have a large truck or SUV. Grab a friend and learn how to install and remove your vehicle cover.

How to Keep Car Covers from Blowing Off in the Wind

If you regularly face high winds, you may want to invest in additional security measures. Always choose a cover that includes elastic hems and a buckle strap. This will offer protection against light to moderate winds, provided the cover fits your car correctly.

You should also invest in Vehicle Cover Clamps. You may not need these for your everyday car cover use, but it's good to have them on hand if a storm is in the forecast.

To use the cover clamps, attach the clips to the cover behind the front wheels and in front of the back wheels. Secure the bungee cord to one of the clips, stretch it under your vehicle, and then attach it to the clip on the opposite side. View more detailed instructions on using vehicle cover clamps.

Choosing the Right Car Cover

Knowing how to pick the right car cover can be challenging. Hopefully, this guide provided you with some useful tips on making the correct choice for you. Protecting your vehicle from rain, snow, bird droppings, scratches, and everything else thrown your way is important - and so is your car cover decision!

When shopping for your cover, pay attention to these five items:

  • Water Resistance
  • UV, Sun, and Fade Resistance
  • Durability
  • Features (like mirror pockets, tie-down loops, secure seams, etc.
  • Warranty and Return Policy

Why Coverstore Vehicle Covers?

At Coverstore, finding the correct vehicle cover could not be simpler. Instead of you doing the searching, we do the search for you based on your vehicle's year, make, model, and submodel. Whether you have a 1970 AMC Gremlin or a 2021 Cadillac Escalade, we have a cover for you.

We pride ourselves on honesty, innovation, and quality. We strive to provide the best quality product to our customers by listening to your feedback and suggestions. We know there will never be a perfect product, but we hope to bring our customers the next closest thing with our continued research and development.

We have a wide selection of vehicle covers for nearly every make model and year of cars, trucks, and SUVs. Our years of experience have taught us how to design vehicle covers expertly for unparalleled quality. Plus, we stand behind each of their products with a manufacturer warranty that ranges from 2-7 years.

Learn more about our vehicle cover collections by viewing our Car Cover Material Comparison Chart. You'll see our materials rated on the key attributes we identified above to help you pick the right material for both short and long-term storage.

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