Subject: About Car Covers
     by Larry Reynolds
   Car covers can help protect your car parked in the great outdoors from
   the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, acid rain, bird
   droppings, wind borne particles, sun fading, the claws of animals and
   even the prying eyes of thieves (let them guess as opposed to
   knowing). Inside your garage a quality cover provides a barrier
   against airborne dirt and foot borne varmints.
   The use of a car cover is a double-edged sword, as they are both
   protective and possibly damaging. A cover that does not fit properly
   may be more damaging than no cover at all. If it is too loose, wind
   may cause it to flap against the paint, causing severe scratching. To
   obtain the best fit, order a cover that is custom-fitted for your year
   and make of car. The "one size fits all" type covers are cheaper, but
   will not provide the tight fit needed. If the car is not clean, the
   dirt trapped between the paint and the cover can also cause scratches
   as the cover is installed or removed or is moved around by the wind.
   The key to avoiding these problems is to put a proper fitting cover on
   a clean car. The best types have a bottom locking system that allows a
   plastic coated cable to hold the bottom of the cover snugly. This will
   help prevent wind movement of the cover and thieves from taking a
   Armed with the proper information, you may make an informed choice as
   to the advisability of using a car cover and the best type for your
   needs. There are three basic types; water proof, water resistant or
   "breathable" and non-water resistant. Each has its own advantages and
                             Water Proof Covers
   The water proof car covers are usually plastic film or a plastic
   coated fabric and will keep the rain off your car, but will also trap
   condensation between the cover and your car. This trapped moisture may
   attack your paint with results that are worse than if you just left
   the car uncovered. The plastic type of car cover is useful if you
   store your car over the winter in a garage and use a flannel cloth
   cover against the surface and the plastic one as an outer protective
   shield. Any moisture will be wicked off by the flannel and the plastic
   adds a tough outer protective layer to help keep the varmints from
   nesting in the soft cloth.
   One manufacturer makes a giant "baggie" for your car called the Omni
   Bag. These are very useful if you store the car over the winter and
   wish to provide the extra level of protection gained from "sealing"
   the car. Place some desiccants in the bag to absorb excess moisture
   and seal your pride and joy for its winter hibernation.
   Another trick to protect any winter-stored car is to place moth balls
   around the exterior to discourage the rodents from moving in for the
   winter and dining on your insulation and wiring. Their gourmet
   appetites make for some interesting problems. One person had mice
   stuff the exhaust pipe with acorns. When he started the car in the
   spring, the resulting acorn shotgun blast dented his metal garage
                           Water Resistant Covers
   The second type of cover material, the water resistant or "breathable"
   type, is available in an almost bewildering array of fabrics, weights
   and types. These types of covers will repel most of the water yet
   allow air to circulate, preventing condensation. Most have ultraviolet
   screens woven into the mesh to help them withstand sunlight
   degradation and are usually mildew resistant. The lightest weight car
   cover currently available is made from Tyvek. This cover weighs about
   3 pounds and is very easy to put on and take off. Tyvek is very water
   resistant and sheds most of the water, yet is so light that the wind
   will tend to beat the cover against the finish. Unless care is taken
   to ensure that this type of cover is fitted very tightly, it may beat
   your paint into submission. Tyvek covers lend themselves for very
   short-term use.
   Evolution by Kimberly Clark, a multi-layer waffle-pattern cover that
   offers great protection from the elements, is available in numerous
   colors and is thick enough to help soften the blow of door dings. For
   outside use, custom fitted Evolution covers offer the best protection.
   The downside is they are heavy, difficult to put on and take off and
   if the paint surface is not clean, they may tend to scratch the
   surface. If you are storing a car outside for long periods of time,
   this may be the best choice.
   Another type of composite cover uses a clothing-style breathable nylon
   or polyester outer layer with a foamed acrylic inner lining. This
   combination is not that water resistant -- it instead "filters" the
   water, allowing only "clean water" to reach the surface. This
   filtering process, in my humble opinion, only removes the gross dirt.
   It does not remove the acid from acid rain. These types of covers are
   usually lighter, thus easier to install/remove than the Evolution-type
   and may be more suited for short term use. There are a multitude of
   other "filtering" materials available, such as rip-stop nylon,
   synthetic sail cloth and boat canvas. Most of these are found on the
   relatively inexpensive one size fits all type of mass market covers
   and may not be that suitable.
                               Cotton Covers
   The third major type of cover material is 100% cotton or
   cotton/polyester blends, available in a flannel style or regular cloth
   style. I prefer the 100% cotton, as the polyester fibers may scratch
   the paint. These are not water resistant and should not be used
   outside for long periods of time. For indoor use, the 100% cotton
   flannel cover is the most gentle on the paint and probably the best
   choice. The flannel lining may cause lint balls on your canvas
   Cabriolet top, so you may consider a plain cotton cover for your
   Cabrio. If you store your car over the winter, or drive your pride and
   joy infrequently, a 100% cotton cover may be a wise investment.
                              Using Car Covers
   One of the tricks to installing/removing a car cover is to roll the
   cover on and off the car. The first step is to "unhook" the cover from
   the front and rear of the car. Take the driver's side one-third of the
   cover and fold it over the top of the car towards the passenger side
   so the fold runs along the edge of the top, hood, and trunk. You will
   find that the roof is usually one-third of the cover and the sides are
   each a one-third. Fold the passenger side third of the cover over the
   driver's side section so you now have three layers of cover over the
   roof, hood and trunk. Start rolling at either the trunk or hood end
   and roll the cover up without moving the cover. Walk along the car as
   you roll up the cover. This way, you have minimized the
   movement/scratching of the car cover as you remove it. To install,
   just reverse the process and unroll along the car, fold down the
   sides, and "hook" the front and rear in place.
   Car cover care is simple, and usually involves cleaning it
   periodically. Read your cover's directions carefully. Most may be
   washed in the washing machine with a mild detergent and no fabric
   softener. Dry thoroughly according to the manufacturer's directions.
   No car cover should be stored wet. If it is removed wet, dry as soon
   as possible. Solvents, such a gasoline, etc. will usually eat holes in
   your cover. Most are not that happy if they are draped on hot exhaust
   pipes -- they tend to melt and leave a gooey mess that is a thrill to
   (Editor's Note -- Larry Reynolds also operates Car Care Specialties
   Inc., Distributors of Quality Porsche Care Products, Post Office Box
   535, Saddle Brook, NJ 07663-0535. Phone 201-796-8300, Fax
   201-791-9743, E-mail