Best outdoor car covers 2021

What's the best outdoor car cover? We tested eight products to find the ideal cover for shielding your car from the elements

Many drivers turn to outdoor car covers in the absence of a garage, either because they don't have access to indoor storage or because the garage they do have is full of other household possessions. In either case, a car cover is an excellent way to protect your motor from potentially harmful substances such as rain, tree sap, dirt and bird poo when brick-built coverage isn’t an option.

And as well as protection from airborne nasties, bodywork is less vulnerable to scratches and fading (caused by due ultraviolet light from the sun) when shielded by a car cover. A quality car cover is therefore a sound investment, but which is the best on the market? To find out, we tested eight car cover products sized to fit a 2006 Renault Clio.

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How we tested them

Breathability is very important because moisture trapped under a cover can damage paint. We assessed this by placing each product over a steam-filled box with a moisture trap above, noting the results after five minutes.

All of the tested products passed our leak test, resisting 500ml of water for 10 minutes. Our drop test rated the protection offered against accidental bumps, and we also marked ease of use, tether straps, quality and fit. Security cable mountings, mirror pockets and zipped door panels were also taken into account.

Price from online sources was the final factor, although will vary depending on car size.

Verdict

Halfords and Sealey would be good choices for all-round use at a reasonable price. For the increased protection, particularly if you leave your car untouched for longer periods, a premium option is the way to go and the Concours Eclipse would be our pick.

  1. Sealey All Seasons Car Cover 3-Layer SCCM
  2. Halfords All Seasons Car Cover (medium)

Reviews

 Sealey All Seasons Car Cover 3-Layer SCCM

THIS non-tailored cover fitted our Clio well, and the 2.6kg weight made it very easy to use. Its useful elasticated front and rear sections hugged the bumpers, and the three tethers held it in place. It wasn’t quite as good as the others for bump protection, but it did very well in our breathability and moisture tests and just snuck ahead of the Halfords.

Buy now from Amazon

Halfords All Seasons Car Cover (medium)

The new All Seasons range comprises five covers in sizes XS to XL, making it easier to get exactly the right fit. We liked the soft protective inner lining, and found the breathability extremely good. The knock protection was much better than its test rivals’, but that wasn’t surprising given that it was almost twice the weight of the last winner, at 4.9kg. The fit was good, with elastic sections front and rear, and three tethers to pass under the vehicle. The reflective silver finish may be an acquired taste, yet it shrugged off moisture very effectively. Breathability was top notch, but the Sealey just stole the win here.

Buy now from Halfords

Richbrook StormGuard Tailored 4 Layer Outdoor Car Cover

Unlike Sealey and Halfords covers the Richbrook is fully tailored, which is the main reason for the considerable price difference. It was good to see it fitted our test vehicle precisely, stretching neatly under the bumpers, with the door mirror pockets not only making it neater, but also holding it in place while fitting. At 3.8kg, it was fairly easy to handle and, unlike most, was no problem to fit in the tough, textile carry bag. 

The four-layer fabric was also good – the outer coating is a flexible barrier, the second is padded to protect against knocks, and the third prevents water molecules passing through, while still remaining breathable. The final layer against the car was soft and non-scratch to protect the bodywork. The impressive technology worked to produce a great, tough cover that’s reasonably light and able to shrug off the elements. But you do pay for that super-snug fit.

Buy now from Amazon

Concours Eclipse 4-layer Car Cover

It was close between the three premium covers. The four-layer Eclipse trailed the other two for knocks and breathability, but only just, and it’s cheaper. Its fit was all but perfect and the large mirror pockets made this easy. At 3.2kg, it gave protection but was still easy to handle. Two tethers kept it in place and the buckles’ silicone covers prevent scratching. A central plastic eyelet takes the optional security cable.

Buy now from Concourse Auto Products

Hamilton Classic Luxury Exterior Car Cover

Available in 30 sizes, this was excellent, and its complex five-layer design accounted for its 4kg weight and brilliant breathability and knock test performance. We liked the fluffy protective soft lining to protect the paintwork and twin fitted tethers, backing up the elastics which fitted snugly under the front/rear valances. But at the price, we’d have liked mirror pockets, a security eyelet and a bit more length down the sides of the car.

Buy now from Hamilton Classic

Classic Additions Ultimate Semi-fit Car Cover Medium

The Ultimate was just that in our breathability and knock tests; no surprise, as it weighed almost 5kg. But combined with its smooth finish, this made it hard to fit solo. We liked the three strong tethers, plus the neatly sewn flaps that kept buckles off paint. Yet their positioning meant we could only use the centre one, which had a large security eyelet. 

Buy it from Classic Additions here

Cosmos Mirage Car Cover Medium 01022

The Cosmos was well priced, especially as it had a zipped section allowing the driver’s door to be opened without removing the cover. We also liked the mirror pockets, although they were tight. In fact, the whole cover was tight; we couldn’t get it to pull over the rear valance and it only had one tether. Mid-range in the knock test, but poor breathability. 

Buy now from Amazon

Maypole MP9332 Premium Waterproof Cover

Shiny silver cover was the lightest here, at 2kg, and while you’d need help in a breeze, it easily slipped over the car. But it struggled in the knock test. It’s not classed as breathable, yet side vents would help dispel moisture; just not from the large roof, bonnet or boot panels. Two fixed tethers gave good security, but it was too long, and bunched at the rear. 

Buy now from Amazon

Clarke Medium Lightweight Weatherproof Car Cover

The Clarke proved tough, but at just 2.3kg, it didn’t do well in our knock test. We liked the soft inner lining that protected paint. Yet it had no tethers, relying on elastic front and rear. This made it less secure, especially as we couldn’t get it below the rear valance. Not breathable but cheap, so could be handy where violence and moisture aren’t issues.

Buy it from MachineMart here

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