Do Car Covers Damage Paint?

Do Car Covers Damage Paint
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The quick answer is that car covers do not damage the paint. By design, these accessories provide shelter for your car and protection for the paint. Plus, there is a clear coat on top of the paint for additional weather and scratch-proofing. But why do some people believe a car cover may damage the paint?

The answer lies in the proper car cover installation and maintenance.

Using a cover is not as simple as tossing it on and then pulling it off. Both the car and the cover need to be clean at all times and there are some additional precautionary measures. This write-up provides tested and proven methods to use the car cover care-free and there are also some maintenance tips.

Before You Put the Cover On

As hinted above, the trick is to keep your car and the cover clean and debris-free. The cover itself doesn’t do any damage, but it can accumulate dirt and dust (this also applies to the vehicle). This dust and dirt can come in contact with the car’s surface and can cause damage. Basically, it acts like sandpaper.

The situation is similar with water or any excess moisture that’s left on the car or the cover. Mildew and mold can gradually develop and cause damage to the topcoat. Mind you, this kind of damage takes time to develop and it might be too late by the time you see that there is something wrong.

This is why you need to give the car a quick wipe before you put the cover on. As for the cover maintenance, dust it off and give it a wipe before you roll it up and store it away. Needless to say, you should never fold and pack a cover that’s wet and the same goes for putting it on the car.

Can You Wash a Car Cover?

The simple answer is yes, you can wash a car cover and there are two ways to do it. Park your car in the driveway, put the cover on, and hose it down. Take a sponge and some mild detergent and give the cover a good scrub. Don’t forget to rinse off the detergent with the hose and repeat the process on the underside unless it’s fleece.

On the other hand, things are even easier with covers that are machine-washable. For this, you’d need to use a large commercial machine. Select a gentle or delicate cycle and use a gentle soap as well — it minimizes the chances of tears, cracks, or rips.

You should know that car covers are cold washed. And whichever method you use, naturally dry the cover for six or more hours.

How to Put the Cover On

Install the cover properly and you don’t need to worry about dust, debris, and scratches. The process is not rocket science, but there are certain things to know and steps to follow. Here are the necessary steps.

  1. Unpack your cover and find the label that tells you which section is front. Place that section over the front bumper and work your way over the hood of the car.
  2. If there are mirror pockets, put them in place before you position the cover over the entire vehicle. Make sure the antenna is retracted or secured within a special patch.
  3. Now, you can install and secure the straps underneath your car. Depending on the car model, you might need two or three straps. Regardless of the number the important thing is that the straps are tight. This minimizes chances for the cover catch some grime and dirt that might affect the paint.

Note: If you keep the car covered in your garage, there is no need to use the straps. But proper maintenance and wiping still apply.

Other Tips to Keep the Paint Safe

When you choose a cover, get one that has a fleece inner lining. This provides better protection during winter and is gentler to the car’s clear coat.

Applying wax is a great way for some extra paint-proofing and you shouldn’t skimp and purchase an off-brand wax.

As a rule, a coat of wax is good for about three months and it helps shield your vehicle from UV rays, harsh winter, and miscellaneous dirt. Finally, it’s important to buy a car cover that’s the right size — get a custom one if you need to. Otherwise, the cover might sag and droop and be hard to position properly.


With the cover on, your beloved four-wheeler is going to have a paint job as good as new for a long time. But the cover is not a miracle worker and it requires some effort on your part. On the bright side, it only takes several minutes each day to keep the cover in top-notch condition.


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