Do Car Covers Damage Your Car? [Inc. 4 Things You Can Do To Prevent Damage]

Are you thinking about buying a car cover? Maybe you have to park outside and are tired of your vehicle being dirty all of the time. From leaves to snow to bird droppings, there is an endless list of items everyone wants to keep off their car. Car covers can help keep your ride looking clean. But, if you have never used one before, you may be wondering if a cover will damage your car. Lucky for you, we have researched this exact question. 

The purpose of a car cover is to protect the outside of your vehicle. But, if you use the wrong one, a car cover can damage the exterior of your car. There are some essential factors you need to consider when looking for a car cover:

  1. Size
  2. Indoor vs. outdoor storage 
  3. Material
  4. Contour vs custom fit 

You probably want to know more about what to look for in a car cover. Keep reading to find out more details about each of these features and more!

A car with a heat proof cover parked on the side of the street, Do Car Covers Damage Your Car? [Inc. 4 Things You Can Do To Prevent Damage]

What To Look For In A Car Cover?

Not all car covers are alike. Finding the proper one for your vehicle is extremely important for the interior and exterior of your car. There are some essential features you should look into when you are shopping for a car cover.

1. Size

You wouldn't put a Fiat Panda cover on a Ford F-150. It physically couldn't fit.  But, finding the correct size is a little more complicated than you may think. A car cover that fits over your car may still cause damage if it is not the proper size. You should always buy a cover specifically designed for the body shape of your vehicle. 

Too small of a cover leaves the bottom section of your car exposed. This exposure defeats the purpose of using a cover in the first place because dirt and particles will still land on your vehicle. The top half may be protected, but it may look funny driving around with only half a clean car. 

Too big of a cover is more damaging to the exterior of your car than you may think. First of all, a larger cover is more likely to blow off on windy days. It may rip and instantly become useless. It may not damage your car, but it's never good to buy something and have it quickly ruined. The most important reason you do not want a large-fitting cover is that it can damage the exterior paint of your car. On those windy days, the constant airflow causes large covers to billow up and down, repeatedly hitting your vehicle. Eventually, this wears down the finish and leaves the delicate paint exposed to the elements whenever the cover is off. 

2. Indoor Vs. Outdoor Storage

Where you plan to park your car is crucial in determining the kind of cover you should buy.

If you have a garage or enclosed parking space, then almost any kind of cover is okay for your car. You will want protection from dust, mold, mildew, and rot. As long as your cover is the correct size, you don't need to worry about weather resistance or the effects of UV rays.

If you park your car outside, you should pay much closer attention to the other features of the car cover you buy because there are more damaging external factors. These include precipitation, pollen, bird droppings, leaves, dust, etc. And, of course, mildew and mold may be a factor too.  

3. Material 

Car covers come in a variety of materials. When you are shopping for a new cover, you will most likely see them made from layers of different materials. Some materials are better for indoor storage, while other materials are better for outdoor storage. Here is a list of the most common materials used to construct car covers:

  • Cotton
  • Polyester blends
  • Plastics   
  • Aluminum   


Cotton car covers are the most popular for indoor storage. This material is soft, so it will not damage the paint. It is also breathable to prevent the build-up of mold or mildew if your car is sitting for a long time. 100% cotton covers may be difficult to find, but many indoor covers have a cotton base layer to ensure no damage to the car's paint. 

Here is a multi-layered car cover with a cotton base to help keep your car in top shape. Click here to view it on Amazon. 


Polyester blends are also very common for indoor car covers. They are breathable to prevent mold from growing, but they are not waterproof. This fabric's inability to keep water away is why you should only use polyester covers for indoor storage. Polyester is less soft than cotton, which means this material can create micro-scratches in your car's paint. It is always best to get a polyester cover with a cotton base layer. 

Here is a triple-layered polyester cover that comes in multiple sizes to match the length and height of your vehicle. See it on Amazon here. 


Plastic has been the most popular material for car covers over the years. Traditional tarp-like plastic covers are not ideal for any car. They may be waterproof, but they lack breathability. Because of this, condensation gets trapped between the cover and your vehicle, which leads to paint damage.

Today, there are much better plastic synthetic material used in car covers. High-density polyethylene plastic fibers are much more widespread and used for car covers. Most outdoor car covers are made from a form of polyethylene (PE) material. These types of covers are water-resistant and breathable at the same time. 

Here is a great car cover with a combination of PE, polyester, and cotton. It is an excellent choice for outdoor storage. View it on Amazon here. 


Aluminum is also frequently seen in car covers. Many outdoor covers have a layer of aluminum because it provides UV resistance. Protection against the sun is vital to both the interior and exterior of your vehicle. Strong sunlight can make exterior paint fade or damage leather seats. Check out how to repair leather car seats in this post. 

Here is a UV resistant cover with a layer of aluminum to keep your car in prime condition. Click here to see it on Amazon. 

4. Contour Vs. Custom Fit

Car covers come in two styles—contour and custom. A contoured-fit is designed to fit more vehicle shapes, but these covers lack separate pockets for mirrors or antennas. Because of this, they do not fit very tight. If there is a lot of excess space, the coverage can move up and down and slowly wear down the paint job on a car.

Custom-fit covers include extra pockets, so they fit closer to the body of the vehicle. A tighter fit is better for all vehicles. They may cost more, but it is much cheaper than having to pay to get your car detailed because of paint damage. To find out more about car detailing, check out this post. 

Can You Put A Car Cover On A Hot Car?

No, you should not put a car cover on a hot car. A scorching hot car surface can melt a cover. If you pull off a melted cover, it will leave residue on the paint and cause severe damage over time. Make sure to put a cover on a car only after it has cooled down. 

Can You Put A Cover On A Wet Car?

You can put an outdoor cover on a wet car only if the cover is made of breathable material. The water should evaporate through the fabric. Don't do this will indoor covers because typically, they are not as breathable. However, even if you have a breathable cover, it is still best to wait until your car is dry to cover it. 

Which Fabric Is Best For A Car Cover?

The best type of car cover is a weatherproof, breathable one. Typically breathable covers are made from layers of multiple fabrics, like cotton and synthetic blends. 

Here is a great car cover made from layers of different types of fabrics. View it on Amazon here.

Should A Car Cover Be Waterproof?

If you plan to park your car outside, then you need a waterproof car cover. It will help protect your vehicle from precipitation. If you plan to park your vehicle inside, then waterproof covers are not necessary. However, you never know when you may need to change the parking location, so getting a waterproof cover for an indoor-parked car may still be a good idea. 

Are Tire Covers Necessary? 

Tire covers are a great idea if you don't use your car very often. They slow down wear and will protect your vehicle even more from the elements. However, if you store your vehicle inside of a garage, tire cover may not be necessary. Also, is you drive your car every day, removing tire covers every morning may be annoying and not provide much protection because they are designed for vehicles that sit for more extended periods. 

Don't Let Your Car Cover Damage Your Vehicle

Buying the wrong kind of car cover may cause more harm than good. The last thing you want is to buy a cover to protect your vehicle, only to find out you caused the harm with a lousy cover. The wrong kind of cover could damage the paint and lead to corrosion and rust. 

Remember to consider the cover size, your vehicle storage spot, the type of material, and the cover fit before committing to any purchase. With the right cover, you will keep your car looking brand new for years! 

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