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Car cover vs garage – when it comes to protecting your car from the elements, there are plenty of ways to go about it. You could buy a new garage, though you might find that it costs you more than the car itself. You could buy a car cover which will protect your car from rain, snow, hail and even the heat of the sun, but are you going to be bothered to put it on every time you park your car? or you could buy a carport.
In general. a garage will always be better than a car cover for protecting your car, but it is costlier. A car cover is much cheaper. But a car cover is much more inconvenient, particularly when you need it – in bad weather.
We’ve had this very dilemma – car cover vs garage – when considering the best way to protect our car. So we trawled the information available out there, including the car forums. It’s amazing how often the question is asked, and we’ve summarised the pros and cons of the car cover vs garage debate below.
Car Cover Vs Garage
The Pros of a Garage
1. A garage is more effective in protecting your car
As a general rule, you should always take care of your car, and in particular, your car’s paintwork, which may need special protection. And although that usually means taking your vehicle in for regular service and full detail, it can also mean something else: garage storage.
If you live in an area with extreme temperatures or weather, a garage is definitely worth the money – just imagine what a heavy hail storm could do to your pristine paintwork. A garage may be too costly, though, and a car cover in winter is not necessarily a bad thing.
But even in temperate climates, a garage will keep dust, airborne dirt, bird droppings, and pollution from spoiling the finish on your car. It will also shield your car from harmful UV rays from the sun.
If you don’t have a garage, find out how to protect it from snow, here.
2. A garage is convenient to use
Compared with a car cover, a garage is much more convenient; just open the door and drive in (if you’re using a remote control you won’t even have to get out of your car). Now think about struggling to put a cover on your wet car in a howling gale….
3. A garage can enhance the appearance and value of your home
A well-presented garage would be an asset and undoubtedly boost the value of your home when you come to sell it, or at the very least make it easier to sell as purchasers see the added convenience of being able to use a garage.
4. A garage can provides extra storage and play space
A garage could not only house your car but also provide a convenient space to store your excess household goods, garden and DIY tools and machinery, and bikes. People use their garage as a utility room, with washing and drying machines, and if you are a fitness fanatic, a garage space could even include your home gym.
5. A garage could save on expensive servicing bills
A garage isn’t just a place to park your car or truck; it’s a place where you can repair and maintain your vehicle. It’s a place where you can tinker and make improvements, where you can get the car washed and detailed. If you’re handy at DIY, this could save you big bills on the car servicing.
6. A garage could prolong your car’s life
Following on from the point above, garaging your car could help to prolong its life. This is because it not only encourages you to pamper it with regular servicing and attention but also will protect it from exposure to the worst of the weather, snow, and ice, as well as preserving the paint shine from those damaging UV rays.
7. The value of your car will be enhanced by garaging it
One of the main advantages is that garaged cars require less maintenance and rust less quickly. As a result, garaged cars can be worth more than a car of similar make and model that isn’t kept in a garage, provided you keep it well maintained.
8. Thieves will be deterred by a locked garage
Car break-ins statistics indicate a rise of 11.8% in vehicle theft in the US between 2019 and 2020.
A locked garage will have a deterrent effect on all but the most determined of thieves. The casual stealer will move on to your neighbor’s car if faced with a difficult-to-access garage. This applies to those who seek to take parts of the car – such as the valuable catalytic convertor or even the hood adornment.
9. Garaging your car will help you get better deals on car insurance
Garaging your car helps you get better deals on car insurance as it lessens the risk of damage or theft, reducing premiums and the deductibles (excesses) you may have to pay if something does happen.
In fact, if you’re lucky enough to have a classic car, or a rare model, or even a modern, expensive supercar, your insurer may require the car to be garaged overnight.
But it is important to keep in mind that every carrier has different requirements for garaging your car. The most common requirement is that you have to keep your car garaged every night, but some companies require you to garage your car for at least a certain number of days per month.
But how much do you save exactly on your insurance premiums? Well, it depends on where you live and how you maintain your car.
For example, if you live in a place where the weather is generally good, your insurance company won’t take the cost of damage from inclement weather into account when calculating your premiums.
However, in states where rain and snow is a common occurrence, keeping your car in a garage can save you a significant amount of money.
The Cons of a Garage
1. It costs more than a cover – in some cases a lot more
The average garage costs upwards of $5,000 (£3,000). That’s a lot of car covers. You’ll also probably have to factor in the cost of electricity to the garage for lights and power, and don’t forget the driveway cost.
When it comes to car cover vs garage, it’s all in the cost – the car cover wins hands down.
2. You’ll need space to build a garage
An average 1 car garage will be 12 feet wide and 22 feet deep; a double garage will be 18 feet wide by 22 feet deep That’s a lot of your garden. Remember also that you’ll have to provide a hard drive to the building itself.
3. It will take time to build a garage
From the time you decide to go ahead, it may take you 3 months or longer to build a garage, depending how long it will require to obtain a permit, if necessary.
4. You may need a Permit
Depending on your state in the US, you may need to apply for a permit to build a garage. More about this here.
In the UK, an application for planning permission may be required. This will depend on whether you have other out buildings on your plot, and the area the garage takes up.
The Pros of a Car Cover
1. Car covers are cheap (relatively)
You’ll probably spend anything between $30 and $100 on an outdoor car cover, compared to $5,000 (£3,000) or more on a garage.
2. You Don’t Need a Lot of Space
A car cover, by definition, fits the car, so that’s the space you need. A garage could take up 300 square feet of your garden. Also, a car cover can be folded away when not in use. It’s a bit trickier to fold up a garage (unless it’s a portable carport).
3. They’re flexible
Well, obviously they’re flexible, in that they fit around your car, but I meant car covers can be used anywhere, that is anywhere you park your car. They can be taken on holiday with you, including that short break into Death Valley you’ve always wanted.
They can also be used inside a garage; many classic car owners use indoor car covers to cover their precious asset to keep the dust off, and the vermin out.
4. You don’t need permission to use one
Unlike a garage, or even in some cases a carport, you won’t need a permit to use a car cover.
5. A car cover will protect your car – up to a point
When you can’t have your car inside, you need a quality car cover to protect the paint job from undue exposure and keep the natural elements at bay, particularly in terms of UV protection. While a cover can’t protect your car from everything, a waterproof car cover can protect it from dust, rain, snow, dirt and everything which comes off trees, all of which can cause rust and other damage.
At their very basic, car covers will keep water off your car, but make sure you invest in one of the weatherproof car covers to give you a better level of protection.
Extra protection will be available in the more expensive waterproof car cover, as they will have special, proprietary, waterproofing treatment and strongly stitched seams which improve their water resistance.
6. You can take a car cover with you
If you move home, you can’t take a garage, but a car cover can be packed away. You can also take it on holiday.
The cons of using a car cover
1. It can be inconvenient
Trying to put a cover on your car in the pouring rain is not pleasant, but there again you might decide to wait until the rain stops, as your car isn’t going to get any wetter, and it might be better to let it dry off a bit!
Similarly, taking the cover off in windy conditions and rainy weather is not only uncomfortable, but it’s awkward to store a wet cover if it’s covered in water. Having to remove a soaking wet car cover (perhaps IN the wind and rain) when you’re late to the office is a moment that just has to be experienced first hand.
One thing to look out for, to improve convenience, is a car cover with an elastic edge.
For some pointers in buying a suitable car cover, go here.
2. Your car’s paint work, and as a result, value, may suffer
There’s a lot of debate around this issue in the forums. Some feel that you need to clean your car every time you put an outdoor cover on so that there is no residual dirt on the paintwork which could act as an abrasive. As the cover blows around in the wind, there is some chance that micro-scratches might occur.
Cleaning the car every time sounds a little extreme, but I think it important to ensure the paint is reasonably clean before the cover goes on, and make sure any small stones aren’t trapped between the cover and paintwork. A dirty cover is not a good match with a shiny paint job. The alternative is a new paint job in the long term.
One way of reducing the chances of paintwork damage is to spend a little more on a quality cover and ensure it has a soft inner layer.
One other issue which is hotly debated is the possibility of an outdoor cover trapping moisture in the car’s nooks and crannies which may lead to rusting in the longer term. This is especially true of waterproof car covers which don’t allow for “breathability”. A breathable cover allows the trapped moisture to escape.
My own experience on this is that with tied-on covers (as opposed to all enclosing covers which envelope the car completely) there is often sufficient aeration to avoid any long-term moisture retention.
In fact, there is a school of thought which suggests your car is more likely to rust in a garage if the temperature is too warm,and therefore humid, in which case it would be better off in the open air. Remember that your car needs to be stored in a place that is not too hot or too cold, and there are many ways to make sure that your garage is the right temperature for your car.
Check what temperature you should keep your garage, here.
3. You’ll take longer to get going in the morning, and wind down in the evening
You’ll maybe have to leave yourself a little more time at the beginning and end of the day to get the cover on and off, and safely stowed, particularly if it’s a wet cover. On the other hand, driving in and out of a garage will also take time.
I find the biggest drain on time is making sure the cover is tied down properly and securely – any undue flapping could damage the paintwork, or even result in the cover tearing. Here’s where one of the custom-fit covers could save a lot of time and money in the longer term, certainly over the universal car covers.
4. You’ll need to replace the cover regularly
They don’t last forever, and depending on extreme the local weather is, you may have to replace a car cover every few years. Ironically it’s the sun which does the most damage – strong sunlight with a high UV factor, together with heat will make the cover brittle and cause it to break down.
A quality car cover will help to minimise this long term cost by lasting longer.
A good compromise when weighing up a car cover vs garage are carports. A carport has a number of benefits over a car cover, and even over a garage; whilst it will be a lot more expensive than a cover, carports will be nothing like the expense of a garage. There are even portable garages which you can take with you if you move.