Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best all-weather car covers

When you have to store your car for any length of time, a car cover is a worthwhile investment. It can offer protection from windblown debris, sand, dust, twigs, and pebbles. Although vehicle paint doesn’t need protection from UV rays due to layers of clear coat, the interior of your car — along with the vinyl and rubber parts — can benefit from a layer of protection.

Car covers offer a much-needed shield against bird droppings if you store your car anywhere near trees or power lines. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the droppings themselves that do the damage; it’s the paint lacquer under them. In the direct sunlight, it softens and expands at the same time the sun is drying and hardening the droppings. When the paint lacquer cools at night, it contracts, hardening and molding itself to the texture of the bird droppings.

Car covers are a bit of added insurance against thieves, increasing the amount of time it takes them to break into your car or steal it. Covers make it more difficult to “key” your car, and they provide a way to keep cat tracks off it as well.

Learn more about what makes for a quality car cover in our buying guide. Take a look at our top recommendations when you’re ready to buy.

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The best car cover is one that fits tightly on a freshly cleaned car.

Key considerations

Type of car

What kind of car do you have? This is one of the most major items to consider before you purchase a car cover. The profile of a pickup truck is different than the profile of a sedan or SUV. Therefore, it follows that a cover designed for a compact won’t fit an SUV or even a small truck.

Many manufacturers offer a variety of sizes in their car covers and claim they are universal. Hoewever, unless the cover is custom-made for your car, there will always be some slack in the material, allowing it to flap in the wind. The more it flaps and the harder it flaps, the more it beats on your car’s paint, wearing it away over time.

Car covers provide benefits when used correctly, and getting the right cover for your type of car is essential.

Size of car

Closely related to the type of car is the size of your car. A two-door Ford Fusion and a four-door BMW are both classified as sedans, though it’s readily apparent that the same car cover wouldn’t fit both of them. In recognition of this fact, manufacturers offer different cover sizes.

Car cover sizes are given in a range of inches. For example, the manufacturer may say a cover will fit a hatchback between 160 inches and 173 inches long. Take the measurements of your car and find the car cover size that matches it.

Measure your car with a tape measure to determine its dimensions. First, measure it from front to back — this is the primary number necessary for getting the correct fit. Then, measure it from side to side. Lastly, measure from the top of the roof to the bottom of the body of the car. Don’t measure down to the ground.

Time of year

The time of year when you’re parking or storing your car determines the prevailing temperatures it may be subjected to. Some all-weather covers don’t offer the same amount of protection from temperature extremes, so read the manufacturer’s description carefully.

Where you park

  • Indoors: If you’re parking your car inside, you will likely be more concerned about dust than wind or bird droppings. Focus on covers that have more cloth in them versus vinyl or vinyl-like materials.

  • Outdoor: 

    • Parking lot: If you’re parking your car in a parking lot, there is less of a chance of problems with bird droppings. This reduces the odds of animals walking over your car or trying to nest in it. Other cars parked in the lot can provide a measure of protection from windblown debris.

    • Street: The street is where you need the most protection. Be willing to pay extra for a heavy-duty cover.

    • Storage facility: Normally, these facilities have a high-roofed shed for RVs, boats, and cars. They are usually open to the elements on all four sides. Sun and falling objects aren’t as much of a problem, but windblown debris — especially dust and pebbles from the surrounding area — may be.

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Did you know?
Some car covers are made from PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate), which is a derivative of vinyl.



  • Breathable: Any material listed as breathable isn’t truly waterproof, though it is water-resistant to varying degrees. A breathable material allows trapped water to evaporate before it does any damage to your car.

  • Waterproof: Waterproof materials are impenetrable to water, as long as the wind doesn’t blow. When the wind starts blowing, there is a risk of water finding its way up under the cover. Once there, it can lead to rust if it can’t evaporate. Truly waterproof covers should be viewed with caution.


Car covers are usually available in various shades of gray or silver to reflect sunlight. Some intended for colder climates are dark blue to better retain heat.

Inner layer

The inner layer of a good car cover should always be a soft fabric such as cotton or linen. These fabrics are the easiest on your car’s paint. They also provide a measure of cushioning protection against small impacts.

Reflective strips

These are especially helpful when you’re parking your car on the street for an extended period of time. You want drivers to see your car before they decide to park theirs close to it.


Car covers sometimes have zippers on them to allow for entry into the car without removing the cover. They also have zippers to fasten the cover in place. Always make sure the zipper has a soft inner cover between it and your car. Otherwise, you could wind up damaging your car with the very cover meant to protect it.

All-weather car cover prices

Inexpensive: Low prices for car covers are from $25 to $40. These are usually “universal fit” car covers that don’t fit the automobile precisely.

Mid-range: From $40 to $60 are car covers that come in a variety of sizes for different types of cars. They may have adjustable straps and reflective strips.

Expensive: The high price range is anything above $60. Full-sized trucks fall into this range, mainly due to their size. Others are the same as lower-priced covers but are of superior quality, leading to a longer product lifespan.


  • The best way to put a car cover on your car is to roll it on. This prevents it from scratching the paint during the process.

  • A car cover should be thoroughly cleaned after every use to prevent accumulated dust and grit from being transferred to your car the next time it’s used.

  • To prevent mold and mildew, never store a car cover while it’s wet. Make sure it is completely dry before you roll it or fold it for storage.

  • Tie down your car cover as tightly as possible to prevent it from flapping in the wind and possibly damaging your car’s paint.

Other products we considered

We like GunHyi Heavy Duty Outdoor Car Cover with its six layers of protection from the sun's UV rays, rain, snow, dust, and pollution. There are four sizes for sedans and two sizes for jeeps. It includes reflective strips for high visibility at night. The adjustable straps keep it snugly in place in windy conditions.

We also like CARBABA Universal Full Car Cover with Zipper Door. It has six layers of protection for your car, including an inner cotton layer to protect your car from scratches. The zipper doors allow access to the car's interior without having to remove the cover.

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Car covers can be a double-edged sword. If you don’t use them correctly, they can wind up causing damage to your car instead of protecting it.


Q. Do I need a car cover to protect my car from UV rays?

A. No. Modern cars have layers of clear coat paint on them to protect the colored layers of paint. As long as it’s in good condition, the clear coat blocks harmful UV rays.

Q. Will a car cover protect my car from scratches?

A. It depends. It will protect your car if your car is clean before you put the cover on it. On the other hand, if your car has dirt and dust particles on it, the cover will trap the particles against the car. When the cover flaps in the wind, those trapped particles will be moved around like sandpaper on your car’s paint.

Q. Will a car cover protect my car from hailstones?

A. No. A car cover is just a large piece of cloth. Cloth isn’t enough to protect your car from hailstones and other falling objects.

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