Car junkies know how hard it is keeping a car clean from pollen, bird crap, rain and the occasional cat prints across the hood. Using a car cover seems like a logical idea, but can be worthless if you’re using the wrong type of covering. Turns out, there’s more to buying a cover than just finding one that fits your car.
It all depends on what elements you’re trying to keep away from your car and where it’s stored at. Manufacturers make covers designed for specific uses like indoor dust covers, outdoor protective covers, waterproof covers that guard against moister and mildew growth, and even sun-proof covers. They’re all designed to protect from different threats and all have their pros and cons.
Click past the jump to see the cover in action.
Originally, I figured buying an OEM cover would be ideal; I mean, who can do it better than the car manufacturer itself? Well, one rainy day later, I found out that it is not waterproof, despite being rated for outdoor use. The last thing I need is water sitting on my car and increasing the chances of corrosion.
So, a few phone calls later, and EmpireCovers shipped me out its top-of-the-line unit for me to sample. Their American Armor cover is their strongest model and is designed to protect against all the elements. With multiple layers and a microfiber lining, the American Armor cover’s main line of defense is Dupont Tyvek. The thick material ensures a completely watertight covering that is still breathable. Its top layer is UV resistant even in direct sunlight, while its thickness protects the car from falling acorns, twigs and prowling cats. While the cover isn’t cheap, as it carries an MSRP of $339 for our Porsche 911 test vehicle, the level of protection it grants, plus its 10-year warranty, make the cost justifiable.
On the downside, our tester was not a fitted cover, so there were no pockets for the Porsche ’s side-view mirrors. I was a bit bummed when I learned that because to me the mirror pockets really help keep the cover in place. After talking with the cover’s manufacturer, I learned that there is actually a reason the cover isn’t fitted; mirror pockets are often the first point of failure on a car cover. That makes sense to me, as the mirror pockets have to be pretty tight to be effective, so there is a good bit of tension every time you put on and take off the cover.
Anyways to solve the lack of mirror pocket to secure the cover, I used a set of bungee cords from Gust Guards that fasten onto alligator clips on the cover...amazingly practical. Once I looped the cords into the rims, the cover fit nice and snug. This also allowed me to manage where and how the cover folds to avoid pockets for water to puddle in. I actually figured out a better way to use them after speaker with an EmpireCover technician. The proper way is to attach the alligator clip to the bottom of the cover (the elastic hem) and the bungee stretches across the under carriage and attaches to an alligator clip on the opposite side.
Once I got it all snugged up, I found that the EmpireCover actually provided good waterproofing and was breathable. Check out the images and you will see that the material has micro hole in it to allow breathing, and despite this it was still fairly waterproof and had enough airflow to dry the little bit of water that seeped through. Again don’t think a car cover will replace a garage — water will go through at some point — but a good cover can really make a huge difference.
If a $339 car cover isn’t in your budget, EmpireCover offers a host of different cover options depending upon the conditions and budget, with the most cost-effect option being their Titan 3L Basic Waterproof cover.
EmpireCovers has a special 35% off discount code for our readers. The code is TOPSPEED and it is valid until 12/31/2014.
Packaged up nice and neat for easy storage
Dupont Tyvek material
No fitted cover, no problem; bungee straps to the rescue
Plastic alligator clips for securing the cover, note this is not the proper way of doing it. Proper way is to clip the alligator to the cove elastic hem, to avoid damaging the cover.
Loop the bungee straps through the rims for a snug fit
Manufacturer Info / Press Release
Interior Temperature Test
On a 90 degree day, after just 10 minutes in direct sun, a car’s interior reaches approximately 109 degrees. After 20 minutes, it reaches 119, and after 90 minutes, it reaches a staggering 138 degrees - hotter than the hottest surface temperature ever recorded on Earth.
To ensure that we offer the best products available, the EmpireCovers Research & Development team conducts rigorous testing of our products before entering into commercial production. We therefore devised an Interior Temperature Test that allows us to systematically quantify the heat protection offered by different car covers. Below lists the results for the American Armor cover:
We tested the insulating properties of the American Armor cover. The cover was tested and compared against an uncovered car and a windshield-mounted reflector.
Our method consisted of parking the identical cars in an empty parking lot adjacent to each other, facing the same direction. Each vehicle had custom-built temperature and humidity sensor boxes. Each temperature box transmitted its data every 10 seconds.
The cars sat in direct sunlight for 12 hours each day. The interior temperature of the vehicles was continuously recorded. The covers on the cars were not removed at all during the 12 hour testing period. All of the cars were never opened during the 12 hour testing period.
The American Armor car cover kept interior temperatures between 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than without a cover. A windshield-mounted reflector decreased the interior temperature by 6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Exterior Scratch Test
A vehicle cover’s most obvious role is to provide a barrier against the elements. From dust to UV rays, to rain, sleet, and snow, it is important that the user select a cover that will meet his or her specific needs. Yet it is the interior of that cover – often a different material entirely - that actually comes in direct contact with the vehicle’s finish.
To ensure that we only sell quality products, EmpireCovers Research & Development team conducts rigorous testing of our products before entering into commercial production. We therefore devised a Scratch Test that allows us to systematically quantify the abrasiveness that different car covers have on a vehicle’s finish. Below lists the results for the American Armor cover:
We tested the microfiber of the American Armor car cover against 150 grit sandpaper.
Our method consisted of stimulating friction between the microfiber and a vehicle’s surface, to emulate wear and tear a user might experience overtime. A proprietary scratch-testing device was custom-built for the testing.
The microfiber was pressed against the vehicle surface then pressed together at 45 lbs., and the cloth rotated at 14,000 RPM for a total of 8 seconds. Photos before and after the test were compared under 55x magnification.
In addition to long-term wind, rain and sun protection capabilities, the American Armors microfiber lining actually polished the tested area of the vehicle finish.