Q: Are car covers effective in prolonging the look and the life of a car? And if so, which car covers are best?
A: The answer depends on where you’ll park your vehicle. For outdoor parking, the experts I consulted recommended that the cover be breathable so moisture can escape and have a soft felt-like backing to protect the finish of the vehicle. It must fit very tightly, or you’ll risk scuffing the paint in areas where the cover rubs against the body when the wind blows. A cable or other fastener and lock were recommended. This sort of cover, usually designed to fit your vehicle, will cost a few hundred dollars. It will protect your vehicle from damage caused by ultraviolet light, bird droppings and other environmental stress. It will provide some protection from moisture and may reduce surface corrosion to exposed brake parts. A cover can also reduce unwanted attention from curious passersby if the vehicle is a collectible or otherwise special.
For indoor parking in a dry, temperature-controlled location, the cover has an easier job and a simpler design will do. It will protect against accidental minor drips, from an overhead pipe for example, and scratches or small dents caused by people next to the vehicle. Here too, if you’re parking in an area with some public access, a cover will hide the vehicle from prying eyes.
If you cannot find the cover you need, or have a special requirement, one expert suggested contacting a boat store. They may be able to fabricate the cover you need, or will be able to refer you to someone who can. The vehicle should be scrupulously clean before putting a cover on. Waxing the paint and treating rubber weather stripping before storing the vehicle are good ideas too. And two warnings: i) some inexpensive covers come with a spongy backing that may degrade over time and stick to the paint, and ii) soy-based organic wiring on some vehicles is attractive to critters who can feast on the wiring and cause expensive damage.
Finally, if you’re parking outside in direct sunlight for shorter periods and are fussy, windshield and/or rear window screens will protect the dashboard and interior from UV light damage and are relatively easy to install and remove.
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