lincolnmatthews

To cover the car or don't cover, opinions on car covers

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I know this seems pretty self-explanatory, but I've had one of my old cars covered for over 20+ years & has developed little tiny pin head size bumps all over it. I was told by several people that this was caused from having it covered all the time. They say the covers trap moisture, I always figured the bumps on my car was caused over the years from some type of reaction between the paint and the lead that was used at the time.

 

Anyway I now just purchase another old car (1937) with very nice paint & was wondering about covering it also. I live in the PNW where it of course rains a lot so there's lots of moisture in my shop during winter months. Thanks for any opinions!

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Years ago people used to cover their cars with sheets of plastic. My dad warned me that this would cause condensation to collect under the sheet, and end up ruining the paint, while causing the car to rust worse than if it had sat outside. Then companies started offering car covers made of miracle fabrics, which we were told would allow moisture to pass right through, while the cover would protect the paint from the sun's rays, pine cones, and bird poop. Yet in my personal experience, these miracle covers are not good for long-term storage. I believe you are better off to protect a vehicle with some kind of roof (which leaves a comfortable amount of space between the car and the roof,) and then cover it with soft cloth fabric. If you don't have a building available, none of the remaining choices are really very good. But some kind of free-standing awning can be a temporary solution, to some degree. 

 

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I covered only one car during the off season.

It was a 1919 Model T Touring and the main reason I bothered was to keep the top clean for which I used a plain old cheap blue tarp hung loosely over the car.

With my "new" 1932 Chevy Confederate I plan on using a couple King Size microfiber sheets which will hang loosely so as to allow for air circulation.

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Every cover will damage the car. As stated, a non-breathing cover will trap condensation. Next time it warms above the dew point, the moisture can't get out and when it cools, more moisture condenses on the car. You might find those wee bumps are rust spots in pores in the paint. You might also

 

Even with a super-soft cover, every time you put it on the car or drag it off, you will scratch the paint, maybe only very slightly. Any dust on the car or the cover is a fine abrasive. If your storage space is very clean and dust free, a cover might be good. You also want a cover that does not absorb moisture into itself and hold a damp layer on the car.

Edited by Spinneyhill (see edit history)

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Keep it in a heated garage and don't open the doors on those balmy humid days.  A little airflow from a fan in the garage helps as well.  My Garage/ Tomb is pretty tight and my cars only start sweating if I open the doors on those days to do something and let that warm moist air in.  I did it today while i was messing with the carb on my new tamper and as soon as I saw the 40 start to get foggy,  I grabbed a fan and shut the door.  Minutes later, it was bone dry again.  

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Automobiles (as the word mobile implies) were built to be mobile, not stationery.  Therefore the should be driven, daily if possible then there would be no need for covers of an type.  Sitting does not do any automobile any justice.  Drive it, don't park it. :);):rolleyes:

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On occasion I have had to store a car outdoors on a concrete pad. If so I always use a cover and a half-dozen long pool noodles to keep the fabric off the surface. Top of car stays a lot cooler (important in Florida). YMMV. 

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Inside your shop? I would probably cover it. Put it away clean and get a nice new indoor cover. If there dirt, the cover will grind it in. But once covered, the grit wont fall on it. Leave a window cracked open.

 

Supposedly they make soft indoor covers that breathe. If it got dirt on it, I assume it would grind into the car over time.  I have one car under a tyvek cover inside. Those are supposed to breathe too. It seems to be doing ok, but it is not "nice" paint, so you can take that with a grain of salt. Sometimes I leave it outside under this to keep the dirt off, but only in nice weather. The key here is that the car is super clean, and so is the cover on the side that touches the car.

 

Trying to store a car under a cover or tarp outside in the PNW long term is slightly less effective than pissing on forest fire, and almost as rewarding as herding cats. Always crack a window, even with no tarp or cover. This goes for both the wet and dry sides of the PNW.

Edited by Bloo
.. (see edit history)

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I too live in the PNW, but I don't have the same problem that you do. Our shop stays dry and at a rather consistent 44-48 degrees in the winter, with little moisture. If you have no moisture barrier and or no ventilation you will always have problems. Especially if you keep your car covered! In the PNW we have only three months to worry about, Nov.-Jan. There is seldom the high humidity, and the huge temperature swings that much of the rest of country has to deal with.

 

Only you can answer the question as to why your shop has the problem. Things that I would suggest 1) provide a moisture barrier under your car. 2) Try to keep the air moving, maybe with a slow running fan. 3) Use a dehumidifier or a space heater to keep the moisture at a minimum. 4) Try to talk yourself out of the need to cover your car indoors. In my opinion covering a car is akin to living in a fool's paradise. If covering your car is an obsession, consider substituting  light painters sheeting, the thinnest you can get. It will allow for some air movement, without doing the damage that a tight fitting car cover can cause. 

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My shed has a dry floor.

The floor consists of a long dried out 6" deep layer of road mat.

When I had the building built I told the builder I wanted a "drafty" shed as I've been in pole buildings that aren't well ventilated.

So being drafty also means some dust gets around and I'd prefer it not get on or in the Confederate.

If not for that I wouldn't bother.

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As I indicated previously, try the very thinnest painters drop cloth. It's what many of the restoration shops use to keep the dust off. For years, I have used it successfully on my two best cars, but they are in a somewhat climate controlled area, with little dust and humidity.

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I've been covering my cars for aver 30 years. I have never covered my cars when they are hot from engine heat, also,

from heat from the sun. Especially darker colors. I have never experienced any paint problems on my cars. My last car,

a Black Lacquer 1969 Plymouth Road Runner I owned and covered for 28 years, still looked great.

I buy only quality covers, not the generic Walmart type.

 

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One enthusiast who has a large collection told me

that his cars weren't covered for the simple reason

that as he walks through his garage, he likes to see

the cars, not the covers!

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I use the old Nylon car covers made from parachute material.  used indoors only, they protects the cars from bee, fly  & spider poop and allows a light dust thru.  A California duster cures that easily.  Anything else in the air in the building lands on the nylon and not the paint or glass.  Works fine for me. 

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On 9/27/2017 at 6:41 PM, auburnseeker said:

Keep it in a heated garage and don't open the doors on those balmy humid days.  A little airflow from a fan in the garage helps as well.  My Garage/ Tomb is pretty tight and my cars only start sweating if I open the doors on those days to do something and let that warm moist air in.  I did it today while i was messing with the carb on my new tamper and as soon as I saw the 40 start to get foggy,  I grabbed a fan and shut the door.  Minutes later, it was bone dry again.  

 

I agree with auburn's method and can only add that I always have a incandescent Light Bulb burning 24/7 usually,  just a 60Watt Bulb to be a heat source and a fan to circulate the air. When humidity is really high I use two or three to dry out the air. Also, I use a California Duster as needed to remove the dust, and Miquires Quick Detailer to remove any harder stuff like what the bugs and birds might leave.  

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Hey thanks for the reply's! I should add to this, my car is stored in an older pole building that's insulated on a concrete floor. It does leak in some water onto the floor at times around the overhead door.

 

I'm getting that most of you guys don't use covers for the most part. I to use a California duster, & actually the cover that I have used on my 42  car is a California Car Cover there blue one. My other new car the 37 Coupe is going to be stored in a new shop/garage that's probably going to be dryer, I guess I won't cover it but just dust it off regularly. Thanks!

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A cloth cover will keep off dust, a plastic sheet will create rust like you won't believe. My mother's uncle bought a 64 Chrysler new and kept it in a dirt floor garage on the farm, it was always covered with bed sheets when he wasn't using it. The paint job was perfect when he died 30 years later.

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I have never used plastic sheeting with a dirt floor storage. Uncharted territory, thanks Rusty. I do know that in a shop environment it provides an adequate barrier to shop dust. I have car covers for most of my cars, but no longer use any of them. The softest cover will produce paint damage, as its removed and replaced. I guess it gets down to the cars paint condition and how much additional damage one is willing to live with.  

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If you own a convertible, conv sedan, phaeton, touring etc during storage place a sheet over the top to collect the dust etc that will be in the air no matter how great a storage unit you have - even heated and humidity controlled. This advice from my friend  Eric Haartz whose family has produced the top material that 90% of our cars are equipped with for over 100 years . He also did an excellent article on cleaning top fabric that was first printed in the New England Region CCCA publication and recently in the national CCCA Bulletin. I followed these instructions to clean the top on my touring car (tan canvas) that hadn't been covered for 35+ years and the process took all of the dust etc from that time period off. You can't believe how big a surface area a top on a 7 pass touring car can be, I found out first hand!

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I've used a Budge Cover for the last 24 years with no deleterious effects. I make sure that the car is clean, dry, and cool before I cover it, and I wash the cover several times during the year. I find a cover absolutely necessary because the garage also houses my daily driver, and if I should accidentally brush up against my classic car, the cover moves, preventing abrasion!

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I don't use car covers. I have this really nice pneumatic draftsman's chair that I sit in and just look at the cars. Sometimes I will slide my shoes off and put my feet on the nearest bumper or fender. Summer or winter, it is a nice seat. And if I am leaning back and see a little booger on a car I just take the bottle of detailer over and spritz it off. If I covered the cars I would miss out on that opportunity for all them endorphins to flow.

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On 9/27/2017 at 12:59 PM, lincolnmatthews said:

Anyway I now just purchase another old car (1937) with very nice paint & was wondering about covering it also. I live in the PNW where it of course rains a lot so there's lots of moisture in my shop during winter months. Thanks for any opinions!

 

My sister had a show-winning '73 Challenger that got roof pinholes due to a car cover trapping moisture, this was back in Indiana and during it;s hot and humid summers. I now live in the PNW like you, and I find that a small fan constantly running keeps the moisture off without the need for a car cover. You could even get a small solar powered unit that affixes to a vent in the wall with the solar cell positioned outside for year-round power without increasing your electric bill. I like the exposed bulb idea mentioned earlier, I may try that one too!

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Know what's death to cars? A heated garage! If you drive your car in the winter when the temperature is below freezing, and put it in a heated garage when you return home, it develops moisture inside every panel and rusts from the inside out! I've seen many low mileage cars that were kept inside like that and their inner fenders were like tissue paper! All their owners were sure that they did right by their prized possession. Mine stays in an unheated garage with a waterproof tarp over the concrete floor beneath it!

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Open the door on a garage in winter? Novel idea. I keep mine at 38 to 42 inside during the winter, but I just open the man door and hang around in there. It makes it nice. None of the supplies ever freezes and the cars are always above the dewpoint.

The roof is green and I use a web-based thermostat. I can see the roof from my bedroom window. If a patch of green shows I drop the temperature set point a couple of degrees. It warms up quick if I use my phone to bump the temperature from the coffee shop.

This will be my fourth year of keeping it heated. I have a separate natural gas service to the garage and it hasn't cost more than $350 for a season yet. I can tell it is worth it.

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Ummm, hate to tell you, that scene is not far away for me.

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