A car cover protects your car from ultraviolet radiation, bird droppings, sun fading, even acid rain, but its use can have a dark side as well.
A poorly fitting cover can do more damage than no cover. If it's too loose, it can flap like a sail in the wind, causing scratches. If you cover your car when it's not clean, the dirt can cause scratches when the wind blows, or as you install or remove the cover.
The best way to address these problems is to buy a custom fitted cover for your year and make of car - one with a bottom locking system that holds the cover snugly - and to make sure your car is clean before covering it.
There's a right way and a wrong way to cover/uncover your car.
The easiest way to install a car cover is to place the cover on top of the car and cover the roof and windows. Cover your side-view mirrors first, if there are mirror pockets. Then unfold the rest, covering front and rear bumpers last. Snap the cover into place using the elastic hems or lock-and-cable.
To uncover your car, fold the front and rear ends up toward the roof. Fold again and again until the folds are manageable. Then, turning to the sides, roll them one at a time up to the roof. You want to avoid dragging the cover along your vehicle or dragging it along the ground where it will pick up debris which will likely scratch your car the next time you use it.
What's the right kind of cover material for your car?
There are basically three kinds of materials used in car covers.
Waterproof car covers will keep the rain off the car, but they also tend to trap condensation. Waterproof covers are usually plastic coated fabric or plastic film. Water resistant covers repel most of the water, but still allow air to circulate. The third type is 100 percent cotton or a cotton/polyester blend. The 100 percent cotton fabric is less likely to scratch the paint but is not water resistant. When used indoors, the 100 percent cotton flannel is gentle on your car's paint.
Do I have to care for the cover as well as the car?
Well, yes. If you simply crumple it up and throw it in a corner, you're sure to attract debris which will scratch your car's paint the next time you use it. If your cover came with a storage bag, use it. If not, fold the cover and store it in a dust-free, cool, dry place. Follow the washing instructions that came with the cover, but don't be afraid to wash it.