Are Car Covers Worth It? (There Are Drawbacks)

When deciding whether to buy a car cover, one of the biggest questions is if the expense is really worth it. Let’s weigh the benefits to find out if car covers are worth your investment.

Car Cover Benefits

1. Protection from Elements

One of the main benefits of using a car cover is protecting your car’s exterior from damage caused by exposure to the elements. Things like sun, rain, snow, wind, and dirt can all take a toll on your car’s paint and finish over time.

A quality cover forms a barrier against these elements, helping prevent fading, oxidation, staining, and more. For those who live in climates with intense sun or long winters, a cover may be especially useful for shielding from UV rays and snow/ice buildup.

2. Deterring Scratches and Dings

car hail damage

Even if you garage park, accidental scratches and dings from things like kids’ bikes, other car doors, and debris can happen over time. A fitted car cover can act as extra padding to absorb impact and deter scratches and dings that would otherwise mar your car’s appearance.

If you live in Texas, Colorado, or another state that’s known for its damaging hail, specialized car covers for hail protection exist that can pay for themselves after one use. While these inflatable covers may look a bit odd, the risk of broken windows or hail damage on your car is pretty much none.

3. Protection from Bird Droppings

One of the most annoying and damaging things that can stain a car’s paint is bird droppings. The acidic nature of bird poop can eat away at clear coat and paint if left for any length of time. A car cover helps avoid this frustrating issue.

4. Maintaining Showroom Appearance

For car owners who are fastidious about keeping their vehicle looking pristine, a cover helps maintain that straight-off-the-showroom-floor shine and appearance by limiting small scratches and exterior wear.

This may appeal to those who enter their vehicle in shows or are otherwise enthusiastic about having their car look immaculate. If you drive a 90s Dodge Neon that hasn’t been washed in a decade, maybe a car cover wouldn’t be the best investment.

Potential Drawbacks

The main drawback of a car cover is the inconvenience of taking it on and off, especially if you use your vehicle frequently. There is also the chance it could blow off in high winds if not secured properly.

Covers also won’t prevent all dings, and some materials may rub paint if blown against the surface (make sure the cover has a soft lining like felt). Cheaper covers may also fade or degrade over time.

So while not completely necessary, a car cover can be a smart investment for keeping your vehicle’s exterior protected if you have the patience to use it properly. For most, the benefits likely outweigh the small hassle.

Frequently Asked Questions

car cover parked

How Much Do Car Covers Cost?

In general, expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $400 for a car cover. The price range is dependent on a variety of factors including type, quality, material, and size.

At the lower end of the scale are typical 1-size-fits-most covers that can provide basic protection from dust and debris. But the material will be thin, deteriorate quickly, and not offer a whole lot of protection.

Higher-end car covers will often fit like a glove no matter how long a vehicle is, have a soft liner to protect your paint, have a higher-quality thicker material, and be easier to put on and take off than cheaper options. They may even protect against hail damage and falling tree branches.

Can’t You Just Use a Tarp Instead?

Yes, you can use tarp but it simply won’t protect your car or truck the way an actual car cover would. In addition, you’re increasing your odds of scratching your paint if the tarp isn’t 100% clean and you’re not paying attention to where a metal grommet may slide against your vehicle.

On top of that, trying to use tarp to cover your vehicle is easier said than done. There’s a big difference with using a custom fit cover versus a giant rectangle. 

How Often Can a Car Cover Be Used?

As long as the cover fits properly and is made from a durable, breathable material, there is no harm in using it every day if circumstances warrant daily protection. Proper care and cleaning of the cover is recommended for prolonged everyday use.

Are Car Covers Just as Good as a Garage?

Honestly no, car covers aren’t just as good as an enclosed garage. While both protect your car, they have key differences. Covers shield paint from elements like rain and UV rays, but allow some moisture unlike airtight garages. However, covers are far more budget-friendly than building or renting garage space.

Some downsides are less parking permanence and more theft vulnerability with covers. While helpful against debris, covers can’t prevent all damage from accidents or falling objects. Ultimately, covers require more effort to put on and remove when driving.

Do Vehicle Covers Attract Mice?

Stationary vehicles attract mice, whether using a cover or not. Covers can act as an extra barrier, making access to vehicles more difficult for rodents. Though not completely deterring mice, quality tight-fitting covers can actually ADD protection against them seeking residence in unused cars.

Some precautions like keeping garages clear of food sources, using repellents near tires, and regularly checking under hoods are still necessary with covers. While not a foolproof solution, covers can play a small part to discourage mice from nesting in parked cars. But other prevention methods are recommended, as mice remain a risk with prolonged non-use of a car, cover or no cover.

Steve Cooper

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