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Hands-On Review of The Best Car Covers for All Seasons

Protect your ride inside and out.

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BY/ LAST UPDATED ON November 4, 2021

Mother Nature has countless ruinous forces. Some, like extreme weather and dive-bombing birds, can seem downright malevolent to those wishing to ensure their ride stays pristine. But there is a solution: the car cover.


Though designed to insulate and protect, not all car covers are created with the same exacting standards. And there are major differences between outdoor and indoor car covers, with those outside covers deflecting the relentless sun and stormy weather, while indoor car covers repel dust and moisture. With such variability, and so many choices available, which car cover is right for your vehicle and you? The Drive has hand-tested several to see which is worth your hard-earned scratch. Luckily (for you, the reader, not so much for our intrepid author), a harsh New England snowstorm lent us a hand.

Best Car Cover Overall

Carcovers.com Platinum Shield Cover

Summary
Semi-custom fit outdoor car cover with weatherproof outer layer and soft inner layer. 
Pros
  • Semi-custom fit by year, make, and model
  • Can be used outdoors or indoors
  • Patented gust strap wind protectors
Cons
  • Costs more than universal fit car covers
  • Tie-downs are not as easy to use as buckle type straps
Best Car Cover Value

AmazonBasics Weatherproof Cover

Summary
Universal fit weatherproof cover with multi-layer reflective material and buckle tie-downs.
Pros
  • Heavy-duty all-weather polyester material
  • 6-point tie-down with buckle straps
  • Sedan or SUV fitment
Cons
  • Mirror pockets don’t always line up correctly
  • Universal fit is not as good as semi-custom or contour fit
Best Car Cover Honorable Mention

Favoto Hatchback Cover

Summary
Outdoor cover with heavy-duty all-weather protection and universal fit by vehicle type.
Pros
  • Hatchback contour for better fitment
  • Driver side zipper seam for easy entry and cover removal
  • Weatherproof fabric
Cons
  • Tie-down straps require tying knots to secure the cover
  • Fabric stiff in frigid temperatures
Hands-On Review of The Best Car Covers for All Seasons

Mother Nature has countless ruinous forces. Some, like extreme weather and dive-bombing birds, can seem downright malevolent to those wishing to ensure their ride stays pristine. But there is a solution: the car cover. 

Our Testing Methodology

We tested a selection of car covers under normal and, what turned out to be, very punishing conditions. Our car cover test fleet consists of a tall and boxy SUV (1989 Mitsubishi Montero), a subcompact hatchback (1982 Toyota Corolla), and a turbo specialty sports coupe (1987 Mitsubishi Starion). 

Clearly, this isn’t the average stable of cars: no CUV, no minivan, nor full-size truck present. However, given the fact that these cars don’t have large aftermarket support, nor did the OEMs ever build bespoke covers when new, it actually allowed us the opportunity to test out a handful of widely available universal and near-custom covers. 

To narrow down the scope slightly, we limited the budget to under $200 and went for outdoor covers that could also be used indoors. Wrestling with a full-size cover on a street parked or daily driven car isn’t always feasible either, so we also picked up a few windshield covers. These partial covers are designed to keep snow and sun off the windshield and out of the interior, so you don’t have to start your day with scraping ice off glass or finding a cracked dash.

As for what we’d be looking for, fabric quality, overall fit, stitching, and additional features like tie-downs or side zippers were essential factors. Luckily for us at the time of the test, nature unleashed ideal conditions for real torture. We also did a bit of research-based picking as we couldn’t get covers in for all the categories we wanted. Let’s get into how they did. 

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Car Covers Reviews & Recommendations

Firstly, yes, the Carcovers.com Platinum Shield does cost more than our other universal covers. At the time of writing, it’s offered at $194.95. However, the reason it takes our top spot is that it offers an excellent fit and high-quality material, making it worth the investment. The cover came loosely folded for easy installation, along with a drawstring storage bag that’s large enough that you can actually put the cover back into it, even if it’s not folded as neatly as when it originally came from the factory. The material was thicker and more supple than our other universal contenders, and it featured a soft fleece layer where the cover met the paint for added protection against scratches. Semi-custom covers aren't a perfect fit, but the Platinum Shield was much better than the other universal covers we tested here. The lack of mirror pockets is actually a plus too, as it gives the cover a shape that helps sheds water away from the car and allows for some ventilation. The cover’s generous elastic hem can be tucked up under the body, and the cover itself falls at the right height over the wheels. We didn’t subject the covered car to the same severe weather conditions as some of the others (it missed out on the snow), but the Platinum Shield cover comes with hold-downs just in case.
Quality polyester material and 6-point buckle-type tie-down straps make the Amazon Basics weatherproof cover an excellent value. This specific cover was designed to fit a tall SUV and only required a moderate amount of wrestling to get it unfolded into place. Featuring a driver-side entry zipper and reflective stripes on the front, mirror pockets, as well as the rear, you shouldn’t ever back into it at night. The driver-side zipper and mirror pockets also came in handy for figuring out the proper placement of the cover, too. More than that, the driver-side entry was a welcome feature after two feet of freshly fallen snow. The Amazon Basics cover is made of a similar, if not slightly thinner and softer, material as the Favato cover and many others in this price range. The reflective material shed snow in seconds and was more flexible than its Favoto contender in single-digit temperatures. Three buckle straps made it easy and quick to secure the cover without tying up any knots, and it stayed put in 30 MPH winds, too.
Best Car Cover Honorable Mention
Favoto Hatchback Car Cover
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Arriving in its own carrying pouch, the Favoto hatchback cover was extremely easy to unpack and unfold. First impressions of this value-priced universal car cover were good, and the fabric felt thick and durable. The heavy-duty, 5-layer material put up a strong defense against rain, ice, and snow in testing. After a deep freeze and 5-degree morning, the hatchback cover was slightly stiff but held together during removal. Favoto gave the cover reflective strips on the front so you could see it in the dark, mirror pockets, and had “rear” emblazoned on the end which served as a guide as to which end is which. This specific cover also has a driver-side zipper seam for easy access to the cabin without having to remove the entire cover. The cover had tie-down straps on each corner, but they were just sewn-on straps and tying up knots in near-zero degree weather left us wishing for quick-release buckles. The Favoto and AmazonBasics covers were very similar, but the buckle straps put the AmazonBasics cover one click up.
The AstroAI windshield snow cover came in a frustration-free storage bag and was easy to unfold and fit. The trapezoidal-shaped design features integrated mirror pockets and four corner adjustable elastic straps, while heavy-duty plastic hooks are designed to grab onto a wheel spoke or cutout and looped back around onto the strap itself to secure the cover. AstroAI took a heavy-duty material approach over the other lightweight windshield covers with a thick polyurethane material that’s more like a rubber raincoat than a light jacket. The cover laid down onto the body better than the thin covers but doesn’t conform as easily to irregular shapes and contours. For example, it didn’t lend itself to the boxy SUV, but it fits nicely on the hatchback’s sloped windshield. The heavy-duty cover was slightly more challenging to shake off than covers with thinner fabric, but the trade-off is that it offers excellent protection against snow and ice.
Covercraft is one of the most well-known brands in the car cover industry. The company has been making car covers since 1965 and has specialized in all sorts of car covers, including this indoor car cover. This particular model is custom-sized for a Cadillac CTS, but you can find your specific make and model fairly easily either through Amazon or Covercraft’s website. The cover itself is made of polyester and has a velvety underside to keep your paint looking pristine. It’s also water-resistant, so if you have a leaky garage or someone spills something on it, it won’t touch your paint, so long as you notice it somewhat quickly. We didn’t test this specific car cover as the company doesn’t make one to fit our...interesting cadre of vehicles, but its long-standing reputation for providing great products sealed our recommendation.
If you want to keep your vehicle's paint from fading, consider the Budge Rain Barrier car cover, which can be used indoors or outdoors where it provides protection against the elements. It features three layers, including a waterproof film that keeps moisture out. It protects against dirt, dust, rain, snow, and sun and has reinforced seams for durability. One feature we really like is its ability to release condensation, so it doesn't build up underneath the cover. The material is also soft, so it won't scratch the finish. It has an elastic hem and grommets to tie it down and keep it in place. It comes with a storage bag and is available in multiple sizes to suit a variety of vehicles, from small sports cars like Mazda Miatas to larger vehicles such as Dodge Challengers. One downside is that there are only a couple of grommets to tie it down, and these grommets aren’t the best quality. As a result, they may break prematurely. It can also be a little challenging to fold the cover and store it in its pouch. But overall, it’s a good cover for the price.
Best Car Cover for Hail
Hail Protector
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Meet the Hail Protector, a balloon that’s been mutated by science to encapsulate your prized possession and ensure its continued factory-contoured curves. The system works by combining a small blower motor that inflates the car cover in about 5 to 8 minutes — depending on the power source chosen — with a smartphone app that tells you when hail is imminent or in the forecast so you can blow it up ahead of time. The cover has been tested up to 60 mph winds and is resistant to UV rays, rain, and dust to keep your paint looking pristine. Now, unlike the others, we didn’t put the Hail Protector through its paces as we did with a handful above, but that’s because there weren’t any hail storms predicted in our immediate future and we’d just run out of golf balls. What we can say is that enough folks that we trust have told us the benefits and drawbacks of the Hail Protector and we feel confident enough to suggest you take a gander if your area suffers routine hail storms. It can, however, be a bit of a pain to set up and eight minutes is a long time to wait if you miss the notification that hail’s coming.

Verdict

While everything here stood up to the force of evil…I mean, a freak nor’easter, there was a clear winner: the CarCovers.com Platinum Shield cover. While the Platinum Shield cover was the most expensive of the set, which at the time of writing cost $194.95, the material was the best we handled and it felt positively durable. 

Add that the inner lining was velvety soft, ensuring the paint stayed pristine (well, pristine for a 40-year-old SUV), as well as the lovely drawstring bag to keep everything tidy when not in use, it was the clear winner. 

Key Car Cover Features 

First and foremost, you want to keep in mind the fit. Car covers come in custom, contoured or semi-custom, and universal sizes. Custom-sewn aftermarket covers can meet or exceed the manufacturer’s fit, and semi-custom or contour covers are the next best choice. Universal fit covers are designed for vehicle types, rather than a specific year, make, and model. 

You’ll also want to look for four corner tie-downs: the stronger, the better. Elastic hems alone are not enough unless you like fighting with maple trees and the brambles over car cover custody after your cover takes flight. Center anti-theft eyelet grommets might deter criminals but rarely prevent the car cover from coming loose and collecting grit as it flops around on the ground. 

And lastly, material is a factor. Where you live and where your car is stored are the two most important factors in choosing a material that offers the most protection. Indoor car covers don’t need to fight the elements and are made of softer fabrics. Outdoor covers range from single-layer water-resistant fabric to multi-layer weatherproof material that’s more like a tarp than a windbreaker. Look for breathability with outdoor covers. You don’t want to wrap your car up like a steak in plastic wrap.

Types of Car Covers

There are three main types of car covers: indoor, outdoor, and windshield covers. Unless you’re shooting for the barn-find look, indoor covers are the answer for short- and long-term storage out of the elements. Indoor covers prevent dust buildup and offer moderate protection against accidental scratches. The lightweight fabric covers are not water or weatherproof but can act as a vapor and moisture barrier that prevents condensation buildup and mold. 

Protection against the elements requires different materials and construction than indoor covers. Outdoor covers range from multi-layer weatherproof versions to single-layer water-resistant types. Sun, rain, snow, and ice present formidable challenges for outdoor car covers, so consider your climate for the best protection. Breathability and tie-down straps are vital considerations.

Windshield covers fit over the front windshield and cowl to prevent snow and ice buildup while you sleep, so you don’t have to scrape off the ice when you wake up. They also offer sun protection from baking your interior. Smaller versions cover the windshield only, and larger versions feature a sunroof, side window, and mirror pockets. The covers are inexpensive and easier to use than full-size covers and are an excellent choice for winter. 

How Much Do Car Covers Cost? 

Car covers range from under $20 to over a thousand dollars for your top-spec, OEM-produced supercar covers. Solid, middle-of-the-range models will likely set you back under $200. 

FAQs About Car Covers

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

Can a car cover damage my paint?

Only if neglected. A dirty, low quality, worn out, ill-fitting, or improperly fastened car cover can scratch or scuff the paint. Dirt trapped in between the car and the cover acts like sandpaper. Wind whipped fasteners and tie-down straps can slap against the paint like loose rope hitches on a flagpole, too.

Can I use an outdoor car cover indoors?

Yes, most outdoor covers can also be used indoors. Make sure both sides of the cover are thoroughly clean and dry. Breathable fabric is important. You don’t want the cover to trap moisture inside the car during indoor storage.

How do I clean a car cover?

The same way you wash a car. Rinse first and use car wash soap to remove crud and grime. Rinse again, reverse the car cover, and repeat. Hang dry. Some indoor car covers can be machine washed but check with the manufacturer first.

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