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There’s a clear advantage to having a garage if you own one or more cars. A garage protects your vehicle from the elements when you’re not driving it, but not everyone has access to one. In that case, a car cover offers the protection your ride needs. There are several options available, but the benefits of car covers ought to make you think twice before you use a tarp or leave your vehicle uncovered.

You could just leave your vehicle outside, which is indeed what almost everyone does, but this can be a problem. The sun will ruin your vehicle’s interior, not to mention any paint that has clear coat damage. Bird bombs (poop) contain acids that corrode your car’s finish. Natural and industrial fallout, like pollen, soot and acid rain, also wreak havoc on car paint, chrome and glass.

Car Covers vs. Tarps

The typical hardware-store utility tarp is made of plastic and is basically just a waterproof sheet. Different thicknesses generally determine how long they’ll last outside, exposed to the elements, particularly the sun, whose ultraviolet rays degrade everything they touch. As car covers, tarps don’t fit the vehicle well and are not breathable. Wind can blow dust between the tarp and the vehicle, which can scratch the paint. Humidity can’t escape the trap (see what I did there?), leading to mold and mildew inside and outside of the vehicle.

Car covers fold up when not in use, are available in indoor and outdoor variations, and fit your vehicle better than tarps. Universal car covers are one-size-fits-all, which might not be much better than a tarp, but more breathable. Ready-fit car covers are fitted a bit closer to your vehicle, so this truck cover wouldn’t fit your hatchback very well. Better fit decreases wind flapping and can prevent dust and dirt from scratching your paint. Finally, custom-fit car covers are the fine-tailored-suit that require custom measurements and fitting. Because they fit better, custom car covers practically eliminate flapping and shifting, preventing paint damage.

Other Options

Other car cover options offer even more protection. Car bubbles require you to zip your car inside a bubble and then inflate it with air. The fan offers excellent air circulation to prevent moisture problems, and the inflated bubble never touches your car, even offering some protection against storms.

Portable carports are another great option, as they don’t touch the car, but tarp types will eventually succumb to ultraviolet damage. Carports are the least portable of car cover options, though.

Considering the benefits of car covers, it’s unfortunate that blue and brown tarps are still covering and ruining cars across the country. If you want to protect your project car, daily driver or summer cruiser from the elements and prying eyes, a car cover will do the job.

Check out all the maintenance products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the benefits of car covers, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

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