- Rating: ★★★★★
- Price: from £249
- Buy at: Specialised Covers
FOR MANY drivers, their car is their pride and joy. Be it a shiny new Ford Fiesta ST or a classic Ford Escort Mk 1, weekends inevitably involve a degree of cleaning and preening. Unfortunately, if there’s no garage at home in which to shield your freshly cleaned car from the weather, it can all seem like time wasted.
Which is where a car cover can come in handy. From keeping a car dry and free from falling leaves in wet winter weather, to protecting it from tree sap, bird droppings or even the long-term damage the sun can do to the paint finish, there are plenty of reasons for putting a car under wraps.
The technology behind car cover fabrics has come a long way, with the most significant development being the introduction of materials that are waterproof yet breathable.
Specialised Covers has been making car covers since 1981 and can count regular drivers, Formula One teams and car manufacturers among its customers. Even caravan owners call on its services.
It offers two covers for outdoor use: the Stormshield, priced from £199, and the Stormshield+, from £249. We put the Stromshield+ to the test.
Ordering a cover is a straightforward affair. An online service means drivers can enter the details of their car, choose any options and see their price calculated. Specialised holds detailed measurements for most cars on the road, and its covers are tailor-made for each model of car.
A two-tone colour finish is an extra £25. Useful options for drivers who’ll be leaving their car parked on a public road include a street pack featuring Perspex windows for registration plates (£25), high visibility reflective stripes (£25) and a lockable hem (£35).
The material easily passes the rain test. The waterproof fabric – said to be a “tri-laminate spun bond non-woven textile,” which means three layers of clever material – doesn’t let any water through, even at the seams. On cold, damp mornings there’s a fine film of moisture under the cover, but the company says this is dew that evaporates during the day, thanks to the cover’s permeable membrane.
The inner lining is a fleece-like material that doesn’t scratch. The cover fits so well – far better than previous covers we have tried – that it’s unlikely to move much in strong winds.
There are details that show Specialised has experience on its side; the clips for the cover’s retaining straps that run under the car are encased in a pocket, stopping the buckles rubbing against the sills of the car, and the cover is deep enough that it encases the alloy wheels, keeping them free from debris that can splash up during heavy rain.
The cover can be cleaned with warm soapy water when on the car and comes with a two-year guarantee. The maker also says that the Stormshield+ is suitable for use indoors. It’s bulky to roll up and put away in the storage bag, but you soon work out the best way to fold or unfold it.
This is the best outdoor car cover I’ve tried. What’s more, it’s a lot cheaper than buying or renting a garage. The covers are made to order and take up to a month to arrive, so drivers looking to shield their car from the worst of the winter weather need to get their skates on.