Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jun 22, 2022

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Few areas of a modern car are as misunderstood as the paintwork.

There are so many competing companies vying for your attention, it is hard to know who to trust. However, you should treat your paintwork the same way that you treat shopping for car insurance rates – don’t always go with the first source you find. Make sure you’re getting the proper information, so that you can be confident you know the truth.

Now that we’ve covered car insurance, onto the question of the day. Are car covers worth it?

From clay bars, to waxes and polishes, looking after your paintwork is far from straightforward. Using a car cover seems like the best and easiest way to protect your ride and its pristine paintwork.  However, do car covers work? There’s a lot of misinformation out there, which means it’s up to you to protect your paint job from something as harmful as a myth.

Today we’re going to be looking at the humble car cover and pointing out five myths that may have taken you for a spin.

While we’re on the subject of potential damage to your vehicle’s paint job, you may want to check out whether or not cosmetic damage is covered under your insurance. If you get a custom car cover, you want to ensure that your brand new layer of protection also comes with its own form of protection. We have a free comparison tool that will let you compare quotes from different companies.

Myth #1: UV Rays Will Fade Paintwork

There are some car covers which let UV light through from the Sun. Many people buy car covers because they are worried about the ultraviolet (UV) radiation in natural sunlight fading their car’s paint.

Car cover manufacturers tout how effectively their product blocks UV and imply that car paintwork left exposed to sun will fade, crack and peel.

In fact, all cars have one or more coats of clear paint on top of the colored layers. This clear coat blocks all UVA and UVB radiation as long as it is in good condition. The plastic and rubber parts on a car will benefit from being covered but covers are unnecessary to protect paintwork.

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Myth #2: Car Covers Protect Your Car From Scratches

Another reason people use car covers is that they are worried about their car becoming scratched. In fact, putting on a car cover is likely to cause some minor scratches.

While the cover itself will not cause the scratches, any dirt or debris that it picks up will. So while a brand might tout a non-scratch car cover, be careful when using it, because your surroundings may end up causing the damage.

Covers are great when they are brand new but as soon as you cover a dirty car, they attract and hold particles that will scratch your clear coat and some plastics when you slide the cover over your car. It’s not that every single cover will do this, or that it will happen every time, but it’s possible that a car cover can cause scratches, so you may want to be careful if you’ve just gotten your vehicle redone.

Myth #3: Car Covers Protect Cars From Hailstones

One reason that people use car covers is that they are worried about their car being damaged by hailstones when left outside. The way you protect your car should change with the weather.

As typical covers lay closely on the surface of a vehicle, they offer little protection against large hailstones. If you need portable hailstone protection, you can buy special car jackets containing electric fans.

Once your car is zipped inside, the fans can inflate the cover around your car. These covers will provide an air cushion that prevents hailstones from causing damage to your vehicle.

Myth #4: Car Covers Are Suitable For Long Term Use

As discussed above, car covers quickly become dirty and are very hard to wash.

Although car covers are great for indoor use when you want to store a vehicle, keeping a car covered outdoors for more than a few days could do more harm than good.

Even waterproof covers aren’t 100% waterproof and will let moisture become trapped between the car’s bodywork and the cover. This will cause serious damage, as the moisture takes longer to evaporate and dry.

In hot, sunny environments, the cover could degrade and leave lasting damage to the bodywork. Consider using a daily car cover, until you can get your vehicle to somewhere more secure. Using one for a long period of time could be detrimental.

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Myth #5: Car Covers Are The Only Form Of Portable Protection

There are a number of alternative ways to protect a car when shelter or a garage isn’t available. Especially if you’re worried about the correlation between a car cover and paint damage, among other issues. A car cover may seem like the only choice you have at first, but there are a few more options out there.

According to one supplier of car shelters, single-car pop-up garages are extremely portable and overcome many shortcomings of car covers. They use galvanized steel frames and durable fabric to protect a car from the elements.

They can even be used with heavy earth anchors to offer permanent, windproof protection if required.

If you care about your car and know that you need the best possible protection, it’s good to know that car covers aren’t the only solution.

Don’t forget, we have a free comparison tool if you need to look into other forms of protection for your vehicle as well.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.