What To Look For In An Inflatable Car Cover

Build a protective bubble for your special vehicle.

Inflatable car coverShutterstock

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The world of car covers is most often broken down into indoor and outdoor categories, but there’s a third type that sometimes gets overlooked. Inflatable car covers take automotive protection to an entirely new level, combining the best aspects of plastic protection with active management of the “air bubble” that the vehicle is placed inside of for as long as it sits in your garage.

What should you look for when buying an inflatable car cover? Here are all the details to consider before investing in this type of vehicle protector.

Friction Blues

One of the main downsides to a traditional car cover is virtually unavoidable: the cover must rest against your vehicle’s paint in order to protect it. Although advances in textile development have created very soft cover liners, over a long enough period the potential remains for even slight amounts of friction to scuff or dull paint.

There’s also the question of accidental bumps, scrapes, or items being dropped on a car or truck while it’s being stored. A standard car cover can absorb some of those blows, but there’s still energy being transferred to the body panels, which keeps a scratch or a dent within the realm of possibility.

Enter The Bubble

An inflatable car cover avoids both of these issues by creating a plastic “capsule” around the vehicle that is puffed up by a small blower fan. In fact, one of the first and most popular inflatable covers was called the “Car Capsule.” This type of cover makes no contact with your vehicle other than the base mat that its tires roll on top of, eliminating concerns about paint damage. It also creates a visual boundary that keeps people and pets away from your vehicle, while also providing a protective shield against any impacts or accidental drops.

An added bonus of inflatable car covers is that by constantly circulating filtered air around the automobile, they prevent moisture buildup, which can be a concern during long-term storage. There are even some products, like the Carcoon, that are waterproof enough to use in an outdoor setting.

Keep in mind that you’ll need a constant power source to use an inflatable cover, which might not work in an isolated storage space. You will also want to ensure that rodents or other pests don’t gnaw into the cover and puncture the inflatable shell.

How Much You Can Expect to Spend

Pricing for an inflatable car cover costs multiples of what one would pay for a traditional car cover. Expect to pay between $400 and $500 for an indoor unit from a brand name like Car Capsule, and in the $750 to $1,200 range for an outdoor model. More elaborate models with metal frames push the price tag even higher, and of course larger vehicles will require bigger, more expensive inflatable spaces.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.