Classic Car Covers
Buying a cover for your classic car is an important step in keeping your collector car safe when you are not driving it. Not all car covers are the same, and the environment of where the car will be stored will determine the type of cover you will need. Having the wrong type of cover can actually damage your car in storage, so you must be careful in choosing the right one.
The most important aspect of a cover is that it needs to be sturdy enough to protect the car from the elements, yet it still needs to "breathe" properly to allow the moisture from being trapped underneath. Moisture is a cars worst enemy, causing corrosion, mildew, rotting rubber, and ruining paint jobs when water rests on the surface for months at a time. The worst scenario is a cheap, moist cover resting on the surface of a vehicle during storage, wreaking havoc on the paint job.
Too many classic car owners buy the cheapest universal car cover they can find at their local retail store, thinking that a car cover is a car cover. The 3 main issues with cheap universal car covers are:
1) A universal cover will not fit your vehicle like a cocoon
2) It is likely made out of a material that does not allow moisture to escape
3) It's likely too flimsy for real protection in harsher elements or from dings
NEVER Buy a Cheap Universal Car Cover
You are buying a cover to preserve your pride and joy, so please do not store your car with a cheap universal cover found at your local retail outlet store. Buying the cheapest classic car cover you can find online that properly fits your car and ventilates properly will not be much more than the universal one.
If your car will be stored in an enclosed environment such as a garage (which it always should be if possible), you should be safe in buying the cheaper car cover available that properly fits your model. Since you will only be protecting your car from dust, dirt, and possible dings from work and tools in the area and not the outdoor elements, a lighter cover should be fine. A thicker cover is suggested if you will be working in the storage area where the vehicle is, to prevent dings and scratches.
If you must store your collector car outdoors, there are different types of covers you will need to decide on depending on the environment. If there will be heavy snow or rain, you need to look at a classic car cover that is highly waterproof. Even the best car covers will absorb some moisture, so it's best to get the maximum waterproof cover you can, especially if the car will be stored where it snows. Snow will not affect the cover when it falls, but when it melts the water can pool in areas and soak it in spots. This water may refreeze at times, so an extra thick cover is essential. Another concern is acid rain, especially if you live in a larger city area. Even if it does not rain much, going all out to get the maximum car cover will protect your paint job from the corrosive acid rain that can plague some cities.
The other harsh environmental factor can be the sun, especially if you live in Florida, California, or Arizona. The blazing sun can quickly heat up your paint job, not to mention the interior of the car and destroy the dash board and cracking leather. Fortunately there are car covers that block 99% of the UV from the sun and keep it cool underneath the cover. Having the wrong car cover where the sun is an issue can wreak havoc on your car. It can actually heat up underneath and trap the heat. Make sure the cover is a DuPont Tyvek to block up to 99.8 % of the sun's UV rays for maximum protection.
How to Put a Car Cover On
Before I get to how to put a car cover on properly, I want to point out that if you will be putting your vehicle in long term storage, you should read my article at Preparing Your Collector Car for Long Term Storage. Putting your vehicle in long term storage without giving proper attention to some details could ultimately destroy parts of your vehicle.
Before you put the car cover on, there are 2 main points you should remember.
1) MAKE SURE you wash the car beforehand, and that it is completely dry. Dragging a heavy fabric over your car when it is dirty will cause the dirt particles to be dragged over your car as well, which can act as a severe abrasive to your paint job. You also don’t want to trap dirt under the cover where it will sit on your car for months.
2) Close all windows and vents, making the interior of the car air tight as possible. Moisture is your cars worst enemy when in storage, especially in the interior where mold and mildew can grow.
Even if you have a piece of junk being stored somewhere and you some day want to restore it to its former glory, a small invest made now in a cover will go a long way towards the future. Many higher end car covers have up to 10 year warranties, meaning your car will be sheltered from further rust and other long term damages can be kept to a minimum. My uncle had a late 1960’s Mustang fastback that was only the frame, but it was covered by an ill fighting tarp and was basically rusted out within a few years.