A good car or truck cover is essential for winter storage.

For many of us, though, the need for good vehicle covers extends beyond the winter months. We’re looking to protect our rides from spring pollen, summer sunshine, fall leaves (and falling acorns). And we may not have the garage or garage space to provide the protection.

Even if we are fortunate enough to have a three-car garage, we may require the added protection of a car or truck cover to protect against dust build-up or moisture—or maybe even dings and scratches from the kids. The key to picking the right cover—and there are a lot to choose from—is an honest assessment of your climate, surroundings, and driving habits.

Outdoor vs. Indoor Car Covers

Are you parking or storing your vehicle inside or outside?

The answer to this question will help you select the best material for your vehicle cover. Indoor and outdoor car or truck covers are tasked with protecting your vehicle from different things, so they often use different fabrics and materials to accomplish that.

Think about it—outdoor car covers must protect from the elements, including:

  • Rain/moisture: penetrates into scratches and cracks to cause corrosion.
  • Snow: another cause of corrosion.
  • UV rays: harmful rays from the sun can cause paint to fade over time.
  • Pollen: along with other outdoor airborne elements, pollen can become abrasive and cause tiny paint scratches which can lead to other damage.

Most outdoor covers use a multi-layer design that incorporates up to four layers of woven fabric, usually including polyester, polypropylene, or other materials that protect against moisture, dust, sunlight—or all of the above. You can find many high-quality, all-weather covers, but you can also tailor your outdoor car or truck cover selection to your particular climate.

For example:

In addition, depending on where you typically park your vehicle, your cover may need to provide protection against bird droppings (under trees or wires) and/or impact (along busy streets). These are all things to consider when buying a cover for outdoor storage.

Indoor covers aren’t exposed to the elements, but they still need to provide protection against:

  • Dust: debris can settle on your paint and, over time, cause tiny scratches on the paint.
  • Finish damage: indoor covers often offer a soft inside to pamper your vehicle’s finish.
  • Mildew and/or rot: moisture expelled from breathable covers often seeps through to the outside of the cover and settles. Over time, this can cause mildew or rot and compromise the protection of your cover. Many indoor covers are treated to resist rot.

Good quality indoor covers include OER Diamond Blue Car and Truck Covers and OER Titanium Plus Car and Truck Covers.

Factor in Vehicle Usage

Will your vehicle sit for long periods? Is it a daily driver?

Vehicle usage plays a role in proper cover selection. If you use your vehicle every day, you’ll want a lighter-weight material. Choose the lightest cover that provides adequate protection for your indoor or outdoor storage needs.

If you’re putting your vehicle in long-term storage, you’ll want to choose a heavier cover. Thicker materials provide better protection against dings and minor accidents, which are more likely to occur over a longer time period.

(Image/Summit Racing)

Universal vs. Custom-Fit Vehicle Covers

There are some good universal cover options out there, but we’d recommend going with a custom-fit design in most cases.

Custom-fit covers are designed to hug the contour of your vehicle, so there are no avenues for contaminants to reach your vehicle. Simply put, they offer the ultimate in protection compared to universal covers. And while universal covers may be cheaper, you often get what you pay for!

Winter, summer, spring, or fall—there’s likely a car or truck cover out there for your specific needs!

Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.