The best all-weather car cover
Many families have more vehicles than they have garage space for. Lots of people live in cities where they don't even have a garage and have to leave their car outside. In either case, an all-weather car cover can provide valuable protection against rain, snow, dirt, etc. We've been looking at the latest models and have put together a concise report to help you choose the best. We've also made several recommendations. Our favorite, the OxGord Executive, is a multilayered solution designed to protect your vehicle from the weather and keep its paint in prime condition.
Considerations when choosing all-weather car covers
Composition and durability
Inexpensive, all-weather car covers have a single layer, usually high-density polyethylene (often called PE), polypropylene, or PEVA (a type of vinyl). They offer varying degrees of water-resistance and aren't breathable, so moisture can be trapped underneath. Better-quality models add layers for breathability, dust protection, and often a final cotton fleece layer to cushion the car's finish.
Covers with multiple layers are usually stronger than their budget counterparts, with higher resistance to tearing. Further strength is added by double-stitching seams.
Fit and other features
Obviously, it's important to choose a size that will fit your vehicle as snug as possible, but unless you're buying an all-weather car cover for a specific model, it won't be perfect. An elasticized hem is added to cling securely around the bottom of your car. This is frequently backed up with either drawstrings or adjustable straps that pass beneath the vehicle to keep the cover secure in windy conditions. Mirror pockets may also improve fit.
A few models offer zipper areas around the driver's door. It's a useful addition that lets you access the interior of the vehicle without removing the entire cover.
An antenna patch is valuable if you have a mast that doesn't retract. Kits are available at very little cost if your cover doesn't include one.
Reflective strips are particularly good if you park your car on the street, helping others on the road spot your vehicle easily in the dark.
In extreme weather
A high-quality all-weather car cover will usually provide good protection against rain and snow, but when the temperature drops below freezing, you'll likely still get frost on the car if it's outside. If that moisture is trapped when the ice melts, problems can start. When using the cover for any length of time, even if it's for indoor protection, it's a good idea to air the vehicle occasionally, and if necessary, let the cover dry out.
The biggest enemy is wind. The tighter the cover fits, the better. But unless it's a custom model, strong gales can cause damage to even the best covers. Small tears can be repaired, but in extreme conditions replacement may be the only choice. At the end of the day, it's a plastic cover, not armor plating. You need to have reasonable expectations.
The cheapest all-weather car covers are under $30. Poor fit and low durability are the main concerns, though many are OK as short-term solutions. From $40 to $60 you'll find a wide choice, with most or all of the features we've mentioned. If you have a large SUV, sedan or truck, you generally pay $70 to $90, and custom-fit covers for specific vehicles can cost more than $300.
Q. Is UV protection important?
A. It's a good idea -- though UV protection is arguably better for the cover than the vehicle. The UV in sunlight attacks most plastics, so a cover with UV resistance lasts longer. Modern automotive paints are a tough, multi-layered composition, so UV is normally only a factor after many years of exposure.
Q. Should I clean my car before fitting the cover?
A. Yes. There's bound to be some movement of the cover, particularly if the car is outside. Any trapped grit could scratch the paint. A good wash will remove it. However, make sure the car is dry before covering so you don't trap moisture that might cause mildew.
All-weather car covers we recommend
Best of the best: OxGord's Executive Storm-Proof Car Cover
Our take: High-quality, seven-layer construction for those who pride themselves on caring for their vehicles.
What we like: Polypropylene outer layers, micro-porous film, and soft fleece combine for weather protection, breathability and paint care. Reinforced seams for strength, elastic hems and draw strings for snug fit. Available in four sizes.
What we dislike: A few quality-control issues -- not always 100% waterproof.
Best bang for your buck: Kayme's All-Weather Car Cover
Our take: Low-budget model with good feature set, and sizes to fit most vehicles.
What we like: Lightweight polyester cover is easy to handle. Mirror pockets help improve fit. Convenient driver's door zipper. Reasonably waterproof. Additional straps keep it secure in windy conditions.
What we dislike: Questionable durability. Some owners claim the material can abrade paint.
Choice 3: TONBUX's All-Weather Truck Cover
Our take: Tough, six-layer protection for vehicles up to 20 feet long.
What we like: Highly effective sandwich of plastics, aluminum and cotton that is durable, breathable, 100% waterproof, and protects the vehicle's paint from scratches. There's an elasticized hem, plus adjustable straps and buckles.
What we dislike: Not much. Expensive but still competitive. A few have ripped in high winds.
Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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