Just over a year ago my younger brother informed me that he was planning to park his car for a while and as his designated parking space is located outside he wanted to know if I would like to use his vehicle as a means to test out a car cover.
I jumped at the chance as he lives in an urban setting populated by lots of pigeons and congested with air pollution. Add to this the fact that the southern exposure would be an extreme test situation for any cover and I will admit, I was actually really excited to see how this was going to work out.
Autoglym is a highly respected British company that made a name for itself marketing an expansive line of car care products- primarily for detailing, but they also manufacture a small selection of automotive accessories. When the opportunity came up to conduct this year-long experiment I knew that selecting a cover manufactured by this company should provide a good indication of what modern covers are capable of.
The fine folks in the Canadian Tire public relations department sent me the product in short order, and after some basic car preparation to ensure that the vehicle would remain healthy during its extended hibernation, the cover was fitted.
This Autoglym car cover is available in four sizes – small, medium, large and extra-large:
The medium unit was perfect for the vehicle used in this evaluation, a 2005 Honda Civic Sedan. At the time of this writing the retail price for the Autoglym Hi-Tech Car Covers ranges from $144.99 to $174.99, with variation do to size selection.
It is extremely important to select a size that will fit quite snuggly, as you want to limit the amount of cover movement to reduce the chance of potentially scratching the vehicle’s paint. The act of slipping the cover over the painted surface is very unlikely to cause any damage of this type, but repeated aggressive contact due to wind or other turbulence may cause fine scratches to form, especially if debris or foreign matter manages to get between the paint and the cover. The latter issue is a real possibility if you select a cover that is too large for your car and park it outdoors.
Constructed of an ultra-thick “fabric” material which helps to minimize heat and moisture build-up while remaining breathable:
Vancouver weather is considered to be mild when it comes to temperature (in fact, the mean low temperature remains historically above 0-degrees Celsius throughout the calendar year, while the mean high temperature hovers around a comfortable 14-degrees), but rather extreme when it comes to precipitation (almost 1,200mm a year). However, it is still important to protect your vehicle from weather- related abuse, especially if you are planning to store it outside where it is exposed to the elements. The cover itself offers the secondary function of protecting the car from minor dings and scratches.
When the opportunity came up to conduct this year-long experiment I knew that selecting a cover manufactured by this company should provide a good indication of what modern covers are capable of.
A flexible elastic material runs along the lower edge of the Autoglym cover to hold it securely in place. The elastic managed to perform this task very well and was able to keep the cover affixed to the test vehicle throughout the duration of this evaluation, despite being faced with the trials and tribulations of winter winds and inquisitive alley dwellers.
Autoglym makes the rather bold claim of this being “THE ULTIMATE INDOOR AND OUTDOOR COVER” and emblazons it in full capital letters on the delivery box, just as I have written here, which leaves me with concerns for the state of the industry after seeing the amount of wear and tear it sustained after the 365-day study period came to a close.
Don’t get me wrong, as I am impressed by the general performance of this cover, but it did show significant signs of deterioration. One look at the surface of the car itself proved that it had been effectively protected by the Autoglym product, but judging by the damages exhibited to the surface of the cover itself, I don’t know for how much longer this level of protection would hold true.
During manufacturing process the car cover is apparently treated with a “UV stabilizer” which sounds good in theory, but may in fact be this cover’s weakness. The surface of the cover has become sooty soft to the touch, flakes away, and will leave your hands covered in black dust. If this is an indication of what the harmful effects of extended exposure to Ultra-Violet light rays can do, I am a little scared to think what might happen to a cover that is not treated with this substance.
On the other hand, the protective material exposed to the car has held up very well, as have all the seam stitches (which are also heat-welded) used to assemble the cover’s various panels together as a sheet. This is good news, as this layer represents the foundation that we are investing in to protect the finish of our automobile, truck or boat.
It is extremely important to select a size that will fit quite snuggly, as you want to limit the amount of cover movement to reduce the chance of potentially scratching the vehicle’s paint.
While it may be not perfect or engineered to hold up for prolonged exposure to the elements (read: years), I am happy to report that it did do the job it was asked to perform for our study. My brother’s sacrificial ride was saved from the ravages of bird poop, chemical-laden rain, and even construction dust and debris. His beloved Civic remained dry and secure, and its finish looked no worse for wear.
As it turns out, my brother is in no rush to put this car back into use. As a result, the evaluation of this product will continue for a as of yet to be determined period of time. This means that we may have to post a follow up story to gauge both the continued durability of the Autoglym Hi-Tech Car Cover as well as my brother’s faith in its ability to deliver on its promise of being the “ultimate” car cover on the market.
Luckily, Canadian Tire offers a 5-year exchange warranty for this product which is redeemable at any Canadian Tire store. Insurance like this is rare in this sector and its availability on this product should help inspire consumer confidence. Judging from the current look and condition of the test unit, I suspect that this exchange may occur on a rather regular basis in this market, but it shows that both companies (Autoglym and Canadian Tire) stand behind the products they sell.