Sometimes when working on your car, your garage can feel a little cramped. Most DIY auto mechanics have had this thought from time to time when performing more involved repair tasks on their car where parts are strewn about and tools cover the floor from side to side.
Another common issue that mechanics face (that is quite the opposite of being cramped for space) is exposure to the elements when working outside. Whether they are swapping their track wheels onto their car for race day at Laguna Seca, polishing their car for Concours D’Elegance, or just wrenching outside, getting soaked by the rain or baked by the sun is just no fun at all.
Fortunately, there is a cheap and easy solution to both of the above problems: the portable garage. A portable garage, also often called a car canopy, popup canopy, or carport is a portable shelter that can be used to cover your car, your tools, or to create extra workspace that is protected from the outside. They usually consist of a metal frame enclosed by a weatherproof fabric such as canvas or nylon.
What to Look For In a Car Canopy?
There are a few things that make or break a good car canopy. First, you want to find one that has an extremely sturdy frame. It will potentially be exposed to wind, and wind can give any structure a beating and eventually take its toll. The absolute worst thing that can happen is that a portable garage can collapse and fall on the car you are trying to protect, making a sturdy frame by far the most important aspect. Second, you want to make sure that the fabric is indeed weatherproof. Nothing is worse than working under a roof that still allows rain to drip on your head when the reason you set it up in the first place was to keep you and your car dry. Finally, you want to make sure it is sized appropriately to both fit in the space you have as well as comfortably fit your car and tools. Common sizes are 10×15 feet and 10×20 feet. We always suggest going a little bigger if you have the space as the difference in cost is usually minimal.
The Best Portable Garage: ShelterLogic Auto Shelter
ShelterLogic is a longstanding player in the car canopy world. They also have a lot of experience in other forms of tenting and coverings ranging from sun shades to sheds. They make fantastic quality products and their prices are quite reasonable. Their Auto Shelter line comes in both common sizes (10×15′ and 10×20′). These portable garages sport 1-3/8″ tube all steel frame which is plenty robust enough to withstand wind forces. The frame is powder-coated for corrosion resistance, which is hugely important if your shelter is expected to see rain.
The all season cover is made from ripstop polyethylene, which is similar to materials that are used in high adventure camping tents. The cover is waterproof, and also possesses UV fade resistance and antifungal properties. The cover has a ratchet system that allows you to tension the cover over the frame which keeps the wind from catching it, keeps noise down, and keeps things looking neat and tidy. Setup time is manageable, and can be done on pretty short order relative to other car canopies. It should also be noted that the ShelterLogic Auto Shelter comes in either tan or white.
When it comes to where to buy, Amazon offers free shipping which provides considerable cost savings considering the size of the package and what it costs to ship. As such, we recommend using them. From a price standpoint, the ShelterLogic Auto Shelter offers an extremely high value. Car canopies can easy top a thousand bucks, but this particular auto shelter can be had for only a few hundred, making it a great value play in an otherwise expensive market.
Overall, whether you are looking for more tool space, protection for your car at shows, or just some extra covered space for another reason, we think you’ll be exceedingly happy with the ShelterLogic Auto Shelter. Happy wrenching!