From the Proper Auto Care Detailing Newsletter No. 29, worth reading if you are interested in buying a car cover.
commonly asked questions.
Question: Many of our customers are purchasing their first car cover and are overwhelmed by the number of products and prices ranging from under $100 to $800. or more. How should one select a car cover?
Answer: First define how you are going to use the cover. Is it for indoor storage only, occasional outdoor use, everyday use, long term storage? Next, consider where you live and your climate conditions. In the sunbelt, intense UV is a problem. In the industrial Northeast, it might be pollution and acid rain. Do you live near an airport? Do you live near the ocean? Now select the fabric that best fits your needs. Many people shop by price, thinking a more expensive fabric is "better" but that's a mistake. You may be paying for a feature you do not need. For example, if you are looking for a cover for indoor storage and dust protection, there's no reason to pay extra for a material with exceptional UV resistance or water repellency. Choose the fabric that best fits your requirements.
Q: I brought a list with me of the most commonly asked application questions. Would you listen to these and give me your recommendations?
A: Fire away.
Q: I'm looking for an indoor cover only, maximum softness and maximum dust protection. What fabric should I look at?
A: Our DUSTOP fabric is perfect for this application. It is lighter, stronger and easier to handle than woven flannel, provides over four times the dust protection of woven fabrics and is breathable to allow for moisture (condensation) evaporation. It really pampers your car's finish.
Q: I'm looking for an indoor only cover to keep on a second car in the garage. I have some young children in my family that are constantly scraping against the car getting their bikes and skate boards in and out. Do you have a fabric that is scratch and bump resistant?
A: Here's one of those applications I was talking about where a less expensive fabric is actually better than a more expensive fabric. I would recommend our EVOLUTION material for this person. This is a 4-ply, extremely tough material that cushions against dings, bumps and punctures.
Q: I have a Ferrari and I want a good looking, indoor cover but I want it in red.
A: No problem. Our FORM-FIT fabric makes a sexy-looking cover that follows the lines and contours of the car while pampering the finish. This fabric is available in six, great-looking colors, including red.
Q: I want a cover for every day use and one that's easy to put on and take off.
A: Hands down, you want a WEATHERSHIELD cover. There is no other fabric like it in the industry. It shed's water like a duck's back, is UV resistant and is the lightest, easiest-to-use cover we make. If cost is a consideration, my "best-value" recommendation would be a NOAH cover.
Q: I want a cover for occasional outdoor use. My business demands frequent travel and I will park my car outdoors in long-term parking for 7 to 10 days at a time.
A: If cost is not a consideration and you want the best material, I would recommend a WEATHERSHIELD cover. If you're trying to keep cost to a minimum but still want a quality fabric, I would purchase a NOAH cover.
Q: I have a second (vacation) home where I keep a car parked outside for 10 months or more. What would you recommend?
A: This is a perfect application for our WEATHERSHIELD HD. This fabric was developed specifically for long term RV storage and offers exceptional all-weather protection. I hate to list a second choice here because WEATHERSHILD HD so perfectly fits this application but I also recognize that it's an expensive material. If this person lives in the sunbelt (Florida, Texas, Arizona, Hawaii) my second choice would be an EVOLUTION cover. If the person lives north of the sunbelt, my second choice would be WEATHERSHIELD.
Q: I live in a rural area with a lot of "critters" (cats, squirrels, raccoons, birds, etc.). I want a cover I can keep on my truck outdoors. What should I get?
A: This is a tough application. EVOLUTION is the most tear resistant cover material we offer but it is not "critter-proof". Cats, dogs, squirrels, raccoons and birds can still puncture this fabric with their claws and this is not covered under warranty.
Q: I'm driving cross country and towing my car on an exposed trailer. What cover should I use?
A: None! Never use a cover for this application. Wind will tear the cover and the repeated flapping will scratch the car's paint.
That's all the application questions I have. Lets shift gears here and focus on the individual fabrics. I would like to list your most popular cover fabrics and have you give me a brief summary of the material and the application that it best fits.
Q: WEATHERSHIELD HD:
A: We designed this fabric for the RV market where vehicles may have sharp edges and are stored outdoors for long periods of time. I like to describe WEATHERSHIELD HD as being almost bulletproof. It's overkill for most car cover applications but it's perfect for long term, outdoor storage in high UV conditions (i.e. Florida, Texas, Arizona, Hawaii, etc,) because the material is solution dyed making it extremely fade resistant.
A: Our all around best cover material. WEATHERSHIELD sheds water on contact, has excellent UV resistance and is by far the easiest cover material to install and remove. Even if you want an indoor cover that might be used outdoors only occasionally, we would still recommend WEATHERSHIELD because of this material's excellent dust resistance.
WEATHERSHIELD covers are fully breathable, pack up tightly for vehicles with small trunks (Corvettes!), can be machine washed at home in a home-sized washer and dryer and are available in 8 colors. This is the perfect every day use cover.
A: We like to think of NOAH and EVOLUTION as our "Best Value" twins. Both are in what we call the mid-price range and both are typically $100 less than a WEATHERSHIELD cover. Each material has different strengths. NOAH has a better moisture barrier which gives it better water resistance and is a lighter, more flexible fabric. It's easier to put on and remove than an EVOLUTION cover but not close to the ease-of-use of WEATHERSHIELD. In a nutshell, for most men and women, a great value, use-every-day cover.
A: Originally designed in 1983 this material was the industry's first non-woven car cover material and was king-of-the hill for nearly a decade. It has been upgraded recently with additional UV inhibitors and is now one of our "Best Value" twins. EVOLUTION is an extremely tough, hard-to-tear material which cushions against scuffs and bumps and is resistant to hail, parking dings and punctures from small animals (small cats, birds, lizards and squirrels). Again I have to state that no cover is "critter proof" and damage from animals scratching or climbing on the fabric is not covered under warranty.
EVOLUTION is more breathable than NOAH allowing for more rapid evaporation of trapped moisture (condensation) and now has a higher UV resistance than NOAH. Because this is a 4-layer material, it is heavier (especially when wet) and bulkier than NOAH making it harder to put on, remove and store. We recommend EVOLUTION as an occasional use cover or extended storage cover. If you're going to be storing a vehicle outdoors (especially in the sunbelt) for weeks at a time (not months), EVOLUTION is an excellent choice.
Q: BLOCK-IT 200:
A: Previously called Sentrex, this is our budget priced, three-layer material for good, basic protection against dew, frost and rain. It's a good indoor cover and can still be used outdoors occasionally. We have customers that need a cover for two to six months while a house is being finished or remodeled and don't want to invest a lot of money in a cover that will ultimately be discarded.
BLOCK-IT 200 is perfect for that application. While we understand the limitations of this material, it is still head and shoulders better in fabric quality, construction quality and fit than the Chinese-made cover you'll find at mass-market and chain auto parts stores.
A: This is our best, top-of-the-line, indoor only material. It's more like lingerie for your car. These covers are sexy! We use a polyester knit with a Lycra/Spandex added to the yarn. It's like a soft, fleece robe yet it follows the lines and contours of the car. This approach requires us to make all new patterns so applications are limited to selected collector, exotic and enthusiast cars.
A: This is our best value in an indoor only fabric. It's a 4-layer non-woven composite, ultrasonically laminated to provide a high degree of dust protection. It actually offers over 4 times the dust protection of woven flannels yet is breathable to allow for moisture evaporation. The DUSTOP fabric is lighter, stronger, and easier to handle than woven flannel yet pampers your carís finish. This is the cover most enthusiasts use for indoor only storage.
I have just a few more questions I would like to ask. We get asked these questions all the time and I would like to get the straight scoop right from the factory.
Q: What's the difference between a Ready-Fit cover and a Custom Fit cover?
A: Ready-Fit covers fit most vehicles within a certain length and width range. They do not have any mirror pockets or antenna pockets. They may be a little tight or a little loose from car to car but they will provide protection for all vehicles in that size range. Custom-Fit covers are patterned to fit each vehicle like a glove. From 1965 model vehicles on, custom covers will have the correct number of mirror pockets and an antenna pocket if required. Custom covers are typically cut one at a time. With a Ready-Fit cover, we can stack a dozen or more fabric layers and cut them all at the same time. This saves us time and we pass the savings, usually $20. to $30., to the customer.
If you ask me if a custom fit cover is worth an extra $20 or $30., the answer is an unqualified YES. Custom fit covers look better on the vehicle, fit better and flap less in the wind.
Q: You mentioned that custom fit covers on pre-1965 model cars often do not come with mirror pockets. Why is that?
A: There are a couple of reasons. In the 1940's, 50's and even into the early 60's mirrors were a dealer installed option. We can't be sure exactly where the mirror was located. We also commonly run into a situation on older (pre 1965) cars where they've been restored and the stock mirrors were upgraded/changed. Along with that, the shape of many of the vehicles and the small size of the mirror(s), often make the need for a pocket unnecessary. Custom fit covers for pre 1965 cars are custom tailored for the car. We allow enough side fabric to cover any mirrors. If requested, we will also include, at no extra charge, one or two mirror pockets but they will not be sewn on. We will ship the cover to the customer who can put the cover on the vehicle, mark the sides with a masking tape "X" where the mirrors are located and UPS the cover back to us with the pockets. We will sew the pockets on the cover and return it to the customer at no charge. The customer can also mark the cover and take it to a local trim shop and have the pockets sewn on for a modest fee.
Q: Will covers fade?
A: Yes, all covers, especially those of dark colors, will fade over time. WEATHERSHIELD HD is our most fade-resistant material. On other fabrics, silver or gray is the most fade-resistant color. Fading is one reason we've introduced WEATHERSHIELD MULTI-COLOR.
If the car is stored outdoors, the top of the cover will fade first because it gets the most sun exposure. Instead of making the entire cover in red, black, green or blue, do the top in silver and the sides in the color of your choice. The two tones look great together and the silver top doesn't show fading. There is a small surcharge for doing two tone covers because we have to bring over and lay out two different fabrics for cutting.
Q: Are COVERCRAFT covers water resistant or waterproof?
A: All of our covers are highly water resistant. They are not waterproof. The fact is, you do not want a waterproof cover because it would not allow moisture to evaporate. Let me explain. Depending on temperature and humidity conditions it is normal for condensation to form on the vehicle's surface just like dew on the morning grass. Our fabrics are breathable to allow this moisture to evaporate. If the cover were 100% waterproof, when the sun comes out it would super heat the water droplets on the finish and etch water spots into the paint.
Q: How do I care for my car cover?
A: WEATHERSHIELD, WEATHERSHIELD HD and FORM-FIT covers can be washed at home in a home-sized washer and dryer by adding 1/2 cup of powder detergent to the wash water.
Other covers can be hosed off while they are on the car and allowed to air dry. To remove a stain, spray the cover with water, spot mist with Fantastik All-Purpose Cleaner, lightly sponge, thoroughly rinse and allow to air dry on the vehicle. Covers can also be cleaned by a commercial laundromat. Wash using 1/4 cup of Fantastik in warm or cold water in the "Normal" or "Permanent Press" setting. Wash in a machine without an agitator. DO NOT WASH IN HOT WATER. Do not use bleach or fabric softeners. Air dry only. DO NOT put cover in an automatic dryer. DO NOT DRY CLEAN.
Q: How long do I have to wait for a custom cover?
A: Production is scheduled upon receipt of your order. Delivery can run from 8 to 17 days (not including shipping time) depending on the time of the year and the factory back log.
This concludes our interview. I wish to thank Martin Lichtmann, Covercraft's President, Ed Fineman and Christopher Duffy for their hospitality and patience in answering all my questions.
I hope this question and answer session will take the guess work out of selecting a car cover. Unfortunately we couldn't cover every application and every fabric question. If you have a question we didn't cover or would like a quote on a cover for your car, please call Classic Motoring Accessories at 1-800-628-7596. We have factory-trained cover specialists on staff. You can also email us from the link at the end of this article or from our website www.properautocare.com.