When it comes to keeping a car in tip-top condition, a lot of attention is given to interior and mechanical aspects. The oil gets changed regularly, winter tires get fitted every year, and you go to painstaking effort to keep it clean.
But what about the exterior? Snow, wind, rain, and even the sun can diminish the appearance of your vehicle over time, leaving it dull and faded. Not to mention the damaging effects of things like hailstorms or debris falling from trees. Relying on rental cars may seem like a better and better idea given all this upkeep, but while that new car smell fades over time, the value of the car doesn’t have to.
Thick in durable material, a car cover acts as a barrier of protection against harsh environmental elements. Our favorite is the Platinum Shield Car Cover for its high-quality fabric, but there are plenty of other options that’ll fit your car like a glove.
Platinum Shield Car Cover
What We Love It: It’s a great investment that’s made with only the best material.
What to Consider: We would have preferred buckles to tie-down straps.
We’re here to steer you in the right direction, starting with the Platinum Shield Car Cover. Although it costs more than many other car covers, we’re confident your investment will be more than worth it. The polyurethane coating on the polyester cover is waterproof, shedding all moisture the moment it hits. Meanwhile, the breathable fabric ventilates to further prevent mold and mildew. You’ll reap the benefits of this cover all year round, especially during the summertime. It’s resistant to the sun’s UV rays, so your car remains cool during those sweltering days, taking some of the pressure off your AC.
Since the inside is lined with ultra-soft fleece liner, you won’t have to worry about dust or scratches damaging your car. Although the lack of mirror pockets may seem like a downside, the cover was built this way to accommodate the mirrors without pocketing them. Plus, it’s only available in custom sizes, so you’re sure to get the perfect fit. However, we do wish that the straps were made with buckles instead of tie-downs.
Price at time of publish: $380
Material: Polyester | Number of sizes: Only custom | Attachment: Tie-down
Best for Indoor Storage
Budget Lite Car Cover
Why We Love It: Although it’s considered an entry-level model, it doesn’t skimp on features.
What to Consider: The material is not water-resistant, so be sure to keep the cover inside and away from water.
Even a car stored in a garage needs protection. For this, the Budge Lite Cover checks many of the boxes you’re looking for. It’s lightweight and affordable while still providing heavy-duty protection from the elements of a garage, such as dust, paint, and dirt.
Even though the polypropylene cover is not waterproof, the material is still double-stitched and breathable. As a result, any moisture that gets in has proper ventilation to evaporate. This prevents the build-up of mold and mildew — two things that would otherwise leave your garage smelling like a gym bag. The hem is elasticized, making it a perfect fit for many kinds of vehicles. It also keeps the cover secure if you decide not to weave cable within the built-in grommets.
Price at time of publish: $62
Material: Polyethylene | Number of sizes: 9 | Attachment: Elasticized hem
Best for Hail
Hail Protector CAR2
Why We Love It: It inflates within minutes to protect your car from any size of hail.
What to Consider: It can be difficult and time-consuming to assemble.
Want to make a driver shake in their boots? Just say the word “hail.” Unlike dust and bird droppings, hail can cause extensive damage. This innovative cover inflates within five to eight minutes to protect the car from extreme precepitation. Yes, your neighbors will think that the Michelin Man moved in next door, but it’s better than paying the cost of hail damage and rental car fees.
The cover is controlled by a remote-control button, powered by one of the three included sources (AA battery pack, AC adapter, and a cigarette lighter adapter for your car). There’s even an app for iPhone and Android users that provides users with storm alerts. The Hail Protector is available in six sizes, but one downside is that those with SUV and truck cover cost a little extra.
Price at time of publish: $411
Material: Textile | Number of sizes available: 6 | Attachment: Inflation
Best for Snow
Ezyshade 10-layer Weatherproof Car Cover
Why We Love It: We’re big fans of any cover that’s made up of 10 layers.
What to Consider: The radio antenna hole can be difficult to use.
Old Man Winter brings about ho-ho-horrible weather conditions for your car. Instead of being late for work (again) from chipping away at ice and snow on your car, try this EzyShade cover. It’s made with 10 layers of 265 GSM materials, although some customers have complained that the cover feels like it’s less.
Nonetheless, it comes fitted with plenty of useful features, such as security straps, a storage bag, and a zipper for accessing your door. There are also a variety of size options available based on the make and model of your car.
Price at time of publish: $70
Material: Polyethylene | Number of sizes: 15 | Attachment: Straps
Best for Sun
Kayme 6 Layers Car Cover
Why We Love It: High reflective aluminum keeps you — and your car — cool in the summer and a zipper door makes for easy access.
What to Consider: If the cover isn’t snug enough, wind can get trapped inside.
Don’t let the lazy, hazy days of summer fool you. Excessive sunlight can wreak havoc on your car by fading your car’s paint, damaging the interior, and affecting your tires. The Kayme Six Layers Car Cover is here to help. Like the name says, it’s made with six layers, including highly reflective aluminum that keeps your car looking — and feeling — cool.
The cover works double-time to provide protection from the inside-out; the interior has thick, soft cotton to protect the car’s sleek finish from dust and other potential hazards. Another useful feature is a panel with a zipper that allows you to get in and out of your car whenever you need, making it perfect for those who are often on the go.
Price at time of publish: $66
Material: Aluminum, cotton | Number of sizes: 16 | Attachment: Windproof straps
Best for Windshield
Bell+Howell Weatherforce 360
Why We Love It: The universal fit means that you get the best bang for your buck.
What to Consider: Some users found that the magnets were too strong, which could result in your windshield being scratched.
Windshield covers are an essential purchase. They protect the glass from dust, dirt, debris, and bird droppings. Measuring 6 by 10 feet, this cover by Weatherforce 360 is a dependable pic. It’s compatible with any car, so you can bring it with you even if you change vehicles. Even better: it’s machine-washable, so washing off bird droppings is less of a chore.
Enjoy the year-round protection with the double-sided material. One side protects the glass from ice and snow during the winter, while the reverse reflects the sun’s stronger UV rays during the summer. You won’t have to worry about it getting stolen, either, as the anti-theft tabs fold into the closed car door. Strong magnets on either side keep the cover down, preventing it from being gone with the wind.
Price at time of publish: $18
Material: Reversible canvas | Number of sizes: 1 | Attachment: Magnet closure
Best for Windy Conditions
Favoto Car Cover
Why We Love It: A reflective strip helps keep your car accident-free and makes it easier to find at night.
What to Consider: The cover tends to run small, so you may want to size up.
For peace of mind during windy days, consider the Favoto Car Cover. The outside is made with PE&Peva material that’s 100-percent waterproof. Meanwhile, the inside is lined with super-soft cotton (don’t be surprised if you’re tempted to use it as a blanket). There are windproof straps on the front and rear and an elastic band on the bottom for extra security.
Additional features worth honking about include a driver door zipper panel so you can easily access your car when you forget your phone and a reflective strip that lets you find your car quickly at night. We do wish that the color selection wasn’t so limited — it’s only available in silver and black.
Price at time of publish: $53
Material: Multi-layer oxford fabric | Number of sizes: 12 | Attachment: Tie-down straps
MORNYRAY Car Cover
Why We Love It: It withstands strong gusts of wind and rain at a reasonable price.
What to Consider: It’s missing a hole for an antenna, so you will have to purchase a patch to make your own.
The best kind of car covers are made with breathable fabric. Since cars have so many opportunities to get wet — rain, snow, and ice — breathable material helps improve airflow and reduce condensation. Another factor that makes a car cover great? One that’s water-resistant to keep mold and mildew at bay.
In addition, this cover is UV-resistant. This prevents the color of the cover (you can purchase it in yellow, white, or red) from fading. As a bonus for those who park their car outside, there are reflective strips to ensure other people notice your car at night.
Price at time of publish: $37
Material: Oxford fabric | Number of sizes: 10 | Attachment: Wind-resistant wheel straps
Tips for Buying a Car Cover
Consider access to your car
If you access your car often, you’ll want a cover that can fasten and unfasten quickly. Opt for one with buckle-type straps, as they’re much faster and easier to handle than tie-downs.
Need to access your car, but don’t want to take the whole cover off? Easy: Choose a cover that provides zipper access to the driver’s side door. This way, you can easily grab things you left behind, like your phone or charging cable.
Know your biggest environmental concerns
A car cover should be able to handle the type of precipitation that happens the most where you live. For example, if you live in a place that has hailstorms often, it’s imperative that you choose a cover capable of preventing serious damage.
The same precaution should be taken if you live near a large body of water. There’s water damage to worry about, plus the risk of salt exposure. (If a car is exposed often enough to sea salt in the air, oxidation and rusting can break down the quality of its finish.)
Aim for a tight fit
A car cover should be tight without any gaps so that wind, dirt, debris, and snow can’t get trapped inside. It’s a good idea to get a custom fit whenever possible. If this is too expensive or unavailable, go the cost-effective route and at least measure your car before choosing a cover size.
Although you want a tight fit, you’ll also need to choose a cover made of breathable fabric. This ensures that the trapped moisture and condensation will dry up a lot faster and prevent oxidation and rust. Keep in mind, though, that a breathable cover doesn’t mean that it’s waterproof.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are car covers useful?
Car covers offer many benefits to your car. They act as a barrier of protection from various elements, such as the sun, snow, wind, hail, dust, scratches, corrosion, and more. A car cover can even reduce the risk of theft of your vehicle and belongings, as thieves might not want to waste time unsealing a covered car.
How do I wash a car cover?
If your cover is machine-washable, simply follow the instructions on the tag.
If it’s not, you can wash it by hand using these steps:
1. Fill a bucket with warm water and mild soap or detergent.
2. Place the cover on your car and pull it tight to avoid wrinkles and folds.
3. Spray the cover with a hose, removing any dirt, debris, or bird droppings.
4. Soak a cloth or sponge in the soap solution and scrub the cover.
5. Rinse the cover down until it’s completely clean.
6. Reverse the cover inside out and follow the same steps.
7. Remove the cover and let it air dry.
Do car covers scratch paint?
They can. This happens when substances get trapped underneath the cover, such as dirt, debris, or moisture. A loose cover and wind beating down against the body of the car can also damage the paint. To prevent this, choose a tight-fitting cover that has a soft interior lining.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
Sarah Kester is a multi-platform editor and writer who has been covering various topics — health, fitness, lifestyle, celebrity, and more — for more than a decade. She has worked with several major brands, such as Vital Proteins, Healthline, Tracy Anderson, Verywell Health, and more. To curate this list, she scoured through dozens of reviews and product manuals to find the right car cover for every need.
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