Posts Tagged ‘car cover’

Picking an M Coupe Car Cover

November 28th, 2010 8 comments
BMW M Coupe Indoor Car Cover

BMW M Coupe Indoor Car Cover - Photo:

As you know from my recent Winterization article, I’ve been preparing my coupe for the long winter. Obviously the best protection is a garage, but even inside there are a lot of things that can hurt your baby. One of the most important parts of protecting your M Coupe while parked is a quality car cover. It will protect your coupe from dust, dings (important to me with two little kids), and moisture build-up (not as important in CO). If you’re in a situation where you need to leave your coupe parked outside, a quality cover is even more important. You will need a cover that can also protect your coupe from the acid rain, tree sap, and bird droppings.

The BMW M Coupe as I am sure you are well aware has a rather unique shape. Off the shelf and semi-custom covers will not fit well at all. The danger of ill-fitting car covers is the additional movement of the cover against the paint. Covers that fit tightly to the car will have minimal movement even in wind. I quickly came to the conclusion that a custom car cover was the only way to go.

The next step in choosing the right cover is selecting your fabric. Each offers different advantages and disadvantages. The primary things I looked for in my selection were:

  • Price
    Custom covers for the coupe seem to range from ~$150 up to $400+
  • Dust Protection
    Dust does not seem like it would be a big deal, but some dusts can be more harmful to your clearcoat than others. The primary reason to protect from dust though is to keep you car looking perfect without having to do additional washing or detailing. It is these extra activities on the surface of you car that are most likely to cause swirl marks on your paint.
  • Ding Protection
    My garage is full of tools, lawn tools and kids toys; each of which could do some damage to my coupe. Ding protection often comes at the cost of a larger, thicker cover however.
  • Breathability
    If a material is not breathable, it will trap moisture and could cause rust.
  • Size/Ease of Use
    This describes how easily the material is to pack, and how small the final packed cover is. This is an important attribute if you will use your cover often. It also may allow you to wash the cover in a home washing machine if necessary rather than a commercial laundry mat or just rinsing it off while on the car.
  • Interior Softness
    If you plan to use your cover frequently, you want to find a cover with optimal softness as it will be less harsh on the paint when putting it on and taking it off.
  • Looks
    I look for any excuse I can to go out in the garage and stare at my coupe. If it has to be covered, I at least want something that will fit close enough to still allow me to appreciate the curves and be somewhat exciting to see parked over in the corner.
  • Outdoor Use
    In a pinch, could I also use it as a temporary outdoor cover?

To cover all bases, I also want to point out some of the attributes to look for in an outdoor cover besides those above.

  • Water Resistance
    You absolutely do not want to use a “waterproof” material to cover your coupe. Waterproof materials will trap moisture and could cause rust. You want to find the most water resistant material you can that still maintains good breathability.
  • UV Protection
    The sun’s UV Rays can damage a vehicle’s interior, finish, and also the car cover material. If you live in a climate that could experience extreme sun conditions, this is a very important attribute in cover selection.
  • Resistance to Elements
    Parking your coupe outside leaves it exposed to things such as acid rain, bird droppings, tree sap and many other things that can damage your paint finish.

In my search, the company that continued to come up in all my searches was CoverCraft, so much of this article will be based on their products. Quite a few other companies use many of the same fabrics in their own products, and I’ve heard equally good things about California Car Cover and Custom Car Covers. Each of these companies provides a pretty nice fabric guide comparing their products that you can find here:

Here are my car cover finalists and how I ended up with the one I did.

  • BMW OEM Noah Cover (Indoor/Outdoor)
    You really cannot go wrong with OEM accessories for a potential collector car. The Noah fabric is also known to be an excellent indoor/outdoor fabric that is good at almost everything listed above but does not specialize in one particular area. It is a taupe cover with BMW printed on the hood and a clear license plate window on the back. Some may not want to advertise that they have a BMW parked under the cover if parked out side. The license plate window could be especially useful though if you plan to park it at an airport or military base where security may go around checking license plates. It will keep them from having to lift the back of your cover to do it. The other nice thing is that you do not have to wait a couple weeks to have your cover custom made. You can go to any BMW dealer and pick one up for $174, and if it’s not in stock it should arrive in 3-5 days.
  • CoverCraft Dustop (Indoor Only)
    This cover checks almost all the boxes in the attributes I was looking for including being excellent in dust and ding protection. It’s major markdown came from it only being available in tan. Not very exciting. If you don’t care about the color, it’s a great choice for indoor use. You can find it for ~$190 on Ebay.
  • CoverCraft Noah (Indoor/Outdoor)
    Made with the same fabric as the OEM cover, but in a silver-gray color and without BMW printed on the hood nor a license plate window. Typically costs a little more than OEM too at just under $200 on Ebay.
  • CoverCraft Evolution (Indoor/Outdoor)
    This is one of the newer fabrics out there and it seems to do everything well for a lower price. I read several reviews that they like it better than the Noah. It’s available in tan, gray or blue and is rated highest in ding protection. This extra protection comes at the expense of size as it’s also one of the largest. It’s available for ~$180 on Ebay.
  • CoverCraft WeatherShield HP (Outdoor)
    The WeatherShield HP fabric is exclusive to CoverCraft. It’s the ultimate outdoor cover with high protection ratings in just about every category. It also manages to be thin and pack up small. It’s also available in black, red, yellow, blue, green and light blue. The only downside is it’s lack of ding protection and high price. It’s available on Ebay for ~$265. Browsing the CoverCraft website I noticed they still had their previous generation WeatherShield fabric (in black) on clearance which has many of the same benefits of the new generation. They quoted me a price of $190 for an M Coupe.
  • CoverCraft Form-Fit (Indoor)
    The Form-Fit covers are made for the garage queens. They are made of the very softest materials and fit like a glove. When you have to specify if you own an M Coupe or Z3 Coupe, you know you’re getting a nice tight cover. They also fold down to next to nothing and are available in black, charcoal gray, blue, silver gray, hunter green, and red. It is the ultimate indoor cover with it’s only drawbacks being lesser ding protection and large price tag. The ones I priced out were around $325.
BMW M Coupe Indoor Car Cover

Rear View

So which did I decide on? None of the above. My heart has always belonged to the highly sought after BMW OEM Indoor Cover shown above (Part No 032 300 410). This ultimate M Coupe accessory was sold in limited quantity only in Europe. They were produced in Italy very similar to the form-fit cover described above but with an M Coupe logo printed on the hood and came with a storage bag and steering wheel cover also with the M Coupe logo. I remember seeing the first photos of this cover all the way back in 2002 in this Bimmerfest thread and have wanted one every since. The 20 covers that made it to the states were hand carried here by the owner of LeatherZ; and, as I’m sure you could guess, they trade hands at astronomical prices. Was I able to track one of these down? Also a No.

BMW M Coupe Indoor Car Cover

Hood Logo

A couple years ago, an Italian Bimmerforums member qpbullet, put together a group buy to have another run of these covers made by the company CoverCar in Italy. These covers are replicas of the originals down to the steering wheel cover. The only difference is the absence of the small white “BMW M” above the right taillight. When qpbullet posted in a thread last week that he had a couple extra ones, I jumped at the opportunity. My cover should be headed my way in the next few days. Thanks again Pia! If you would be interested in one, qpbullet has thrown around the idea of organizing another Group Buy. Leave a comment here or PM him on Bimmerforums to let him know you are interested.

By Request, Details of My Cover

A few people have asked if my cover came with a storage bag and what the interior material is like. It came with a small gray duffle bag. The interior material is a very soft felt or fleece. I’m very careful about what I let touch my paint, and I have not even given a second thought to putting this cover on. The cover itself can pack down pretty small and can even fit in the average home washer and dryer if necessary.

Cover Car Duffle Bag

Cover Car Duffle Bag

Cover Car Detail

Cover Car Detail

Categories: Coupe Stuff Tags: ,

Winterizing Your Coupe

November 19th, 2010 1 comment

Winterizing Supplies

I haven’t driven my coupe in almost 3 weeks :(. Winter is here in Colorado, and there has been snow on or near my favorite roads the past few weeks. While I don’t plan on parking it until spring, I know my opportunities for a good drive this winter will be few and far between. Therefore, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on how best to winterize my coupe.

Here are some of the winter storage tips I’ve come across. Some are probably more extreme than I’m going to attempt but worth mentioning anyway:

For Your Engine

  • NEVER start your coupe unless you plan on driving it for at least a half hour to get it to full operating temperature. It is far better to let it sit for 4-5 months than to idle the engine from time to time to “get the fluids running”. Doing so will just load the engine and exhaust with moisture and open the potential for rust.
  • Change the oil and filter – Oil gets contaminated during use and those contaminants can cause mild corrosion if left to sit for long periods of time
  • Top off the gas from a quality station and avoid Ethanol if possible. Having the fuel topped off prevents condensation from forming in the tank and rusting it from the inside out. Don’t fill it to the top of the neck to leave a little room for expansion and contraction with varying temperatures.
  • Use a gas preservative like Stabil to prevent the gas from breaking down as well as preventing oxidation and rust formation. After adding it, run the engine for at least 10 minutes to allow the mixture to get through the entire system.
  • Before parking it for storage, take it for an extended drive to get all the fluids up to operating temperature in order to burn off contaminants in the oil and get rid of moisture in the crankcase and exhaust system.
  • If you live somewhere that rodents could be a concern, place steel wool or a rolled up scotch-brite pad in the tailpipes.

For Your Transmission

  • Leave your coupe in gear. Use wheel blocks to prevent it from rolling

For Your Brakes

  • Never set the parking brake. The brake pads could stick to the rotors or the cables could freeze or rust during storage. Use wheel blocks.
  • After the final wash, drive it around for a little bit frequently applying the brakes to dry them off well.

For Your Battery

  • Many people take their batteries out for storage as cool temperatures can reduce the life of the battery. Sitting for an extended period of time without recharging can also significantly reduce the life of a battery. For the coupe, I think it is ideal to purchase a float charger/battery tender to maintain the battery’s charge while it is parked. I’d recommend hooking it up to the leads in the engine bay rather than connecting directly to the battery in the trunk. Classic trickle chargers if left un-monitored can overcharge the battery and also reduce it’s life. Float chargers, on the other hand, are designed to charge the battery to an optimal level then maintain that level without overcharging. In my research, I read good things about the following chargers:

For Your Tires

  • Slightly over inflate the tires by 5-10 psi to help avoid  flat spotting from sitting in one place for a long time. This will also help compensate for the cooler temperatures.
  • Roll the car a few inches forward and back from time to time (without starting the engine of course).
  • Place cardboard or old carpet squares under the tires to separate them from the cold/hard concrete.
  • Some people choose to store their car on jack stands to take pressure off the tires completely, but this must be done right or it could cause more harm than good. Place the jackstands under the suspension so that all the bushings and springs sit as they do normally. Letting the wheels droop is hard on the suspension and exposes parts to rust that are normally protected.

For Your Exterior

  • Purchase a quality car cover for your coupe to protect it from dust, moisture and dings while stored (see “Picking an M Coupe Car Cover“).
  • Thoroughly wash (including the undercarriage) and wax your coupe right before storing it.
  • Be sure it is completely dry before covering it as moisture is your worst enemy.
  • To stop moisture from getting under the car, put a couple layers of plastic sheeting under the entire car and several feet to either side. It’s cheap and a good vapor barrier.

For Your Interior

  • Close all the windows and put the system on max a/c to close the outside vent. If the garage is heated, the window can be left open a small crack to allow air circulation.
  • Put a large bag of desiccant gel or an open box of baking soda inside the car. These will absorb excess moisture from the air.
  • Clean and vacuum the interior. Use leather cleaner/conditioner and vinyl cleaner/conditioner as required.
  • If you have your original auto-dimming rearview mirror, consider putting a ziploc bag over it as they are known to leak the dimming fluid onto the dash.
  • Do NOT use water on the carpets or seats right before storage or you risk mold and mildew.
  • Do NOT treat inside surfaces with Armor-All (or similar products). They contain a lot of water and chemicals that can encourage mildew and mold.

So there you go. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but really not too bad all in all. Also, remember to leave yourself a note on the dash or driver’s seat to remind yourself next time you drive to remove the wheel blocks, battery charger, steel wool, etc. I’m new at this so feel free to chime in with comments and corrections.