Ever see those metallic looking covers on car windshields while walking through the parking lot?
Those are sun shades, and they keep the interior of your car at a moderate temperature when you’re at the mall. But car sun shades do more than protect your car interior in the summer. They can also protect your passengers from the heat and harmful UV rays.
These days, most car sun shades come with children in mind. While all front and rear windshields protect from UV rays, side windows do not. Since most sun damage is likely to occur before the age of 18, that means your kids are extra vulnerable when you are trucking them around from place to place.
Current sunshade technology is to a point where they can snugly fit over any car window, without falling off. You can also expect sun shades to block nearly all harmful UV light. While that Dora sunshade you bought at the buck store might filter out some heat and UV rays, let’s take a look at some sunshades that will last and keep you safe.
What to Look for In a Car Sun Shade
There are several points to consider when purchasing a car sun shade:
- Durability – the overall price of the shade will usually give you a good idea of the quality. But feel for yourself. If it feels cheap, then you’re probably right. Keep in mind that sunshades are, as a rule, very lightweight.
- Size – make sure the sun shade will fit your car’s windows. Many operate on a one-size-fits-all basis, but some do not. Read the fine print on the packaging.
- Protection – most quality sun shades will advertise the percentage of UV rays they block. That is a good sign. If the product doesn’t claim any protection, then beware.
- Price – you can purchase a decent sunshade at a very reasonable price. But if you want to cover all four of your side windows, you’ll likely pay more. Consider who will be riding in your car, and how frequently, to determine how many shades you will need.
A car sunshade is not a complicated item, but they are getting more advanced.
Paramount amongst all factors is how it fits on your car. A universal fit might not always mean universal. A feature like this often comes with an asterisk; meaning they fit on all cars that are sedans, not “all cars” that are actually trucks. Make sure you read the fine print.
Not all your car’s side windows are the same shape and size. When buying individual shades, be sure they fit the actual size of the window. If you are purchasing a set, make sure each one will fit all the windows.
When it comes to vehicles, there is nothing standard about dimensions. Size varies within the same make and sometimes, even within the same model.
How to Find the Best Car Sun Shade
When choosing the “best” sunshade, there are a few key aspects to consider: the make, model, and year of your vehicle as well as who will be riding in your vehicle regularly.
Before you purchase a sunshade, be aware that there are generally two types: front/rear windshield and side window sunshades. Measuring the size of your windows is always a good first step before purchasing a sunshade.
Even if the label reads “fits all compact car models,” you still don’t know what the manufacturer considers “compact.” Measure your windows and writing down the dimensions.
Once you’ve determined the size of your windshield and windows, you’ll want to decide exactly how many sunshades you need. If you leave your car parked outside for long periods, such as at work, then you might want sunshades for all your windows.
If you are taking your one child to the park now and then, one sunshade will likely suffice.
A key point to remember is that your side windows do not block harmful UV rays. Your windshield, on the other hand, does block nearly all UV rays. The only reason you would need a sunshade for your front or rear window is to block out the heat when parked. A secondary goal is to protect any car electronics, such as a GPS or your cell phone, from the heat.
Top 5 Picks for the Best Car Sun Shade
Without further ado, here are our top 5 picks for the best car sun shade.
Quality is kinder Fluff’s game, and they play it well. kinder Fluff makes sun shades that are not only durable but also very easy to use. There are no straps, brackets, Velcro, or any other fastening device required. Each kinder Fluff sun shade attaches to your side window using static film, meaning no suction, tape, or glue.
Kinder Fluff provides four shades in each pack. There are two each of transparent and semi-transparent shades. The semi-transparent shades go in the rear windows, while the transparent shades are for the front.
Both types of shade have 80 GPM mesh. GPM means grams per meter and alludes to the actual weight of the material. The higher the GPM, the more material used. If you have a high GPM sunshade, that means your sunshade uses more than the usual amount of fabric, blocking out more of the sun.
When blocking out harmful UV rays, both shades keep nearly 99% of UV rays out. The rear, semi-transparent shades are slightly more effective since they use a black dye, which eliminates more solar radiation.
The static film keeps these shades attached to your window. While it is not recommended you open and close your window while these are applied, they do remove easily. Using them requires a damp cloth to moisten the surface which activates the static film.
These are durable sunshades. If your window or shade gets grimy, a simple clean reactivates the static film. Kinder Fluff provides a small carrying case for your shades and promises not to leave any residue on your windows upon removal.
- Extra-thick static film eliminates more UV and solar radiation
- Two types of sunshade come with each purchase, one pair for the front side windows and one pair for the rear
- Clean and re-apply easily with a damp cloth
- Can overlap to achieve more precise window coverage
- They only come in one size, so if you have to overlap you will have to purchase more than one set
- Does not allow the window to open and shut while applied
Enovoe offers a more substantial window shade that comes in a pack of four. While there is not a less transparent option for rear windows, Enovoe promises to block 97% of harmful UV rays. Best of all, Enovoe’s sunshade attaches using static film.
One of the most attractive features of these sunshades is the size. At 21×14, they are designed to fit comfortably within larger vehicles such as trucks and vans. The larger size means a full fifty more square inches of coverage than kinder Fluff offers. You will not need to overlap sunshades with Enovoe.
In terms of how much sun these shades actually block, they work much in the same way as other static cling shades. There is a layer of mesh, although Enovoe does not disclose how dense this layer is, backed by a film of static tape. Application is simple, with only a firm, steady pressing from your hands required. Installation does not require using any water or damp cloths.
A bonus that Enovoe offers is the unlimited, guaranteed lifetime warranty. You can ship your sunshade back at any time for a full refund. On top of that, they will also mail you a complimentary pair of sunshades to go along with your refund. Each purchase also comes with the promise that Enovoe will donate 5% of each purchase to charity.
- Large, 21×14 shades offer more coverage than typical mesh shades
- Shades fold up to fit in a small pouch, making for compact storage
- The easy application does not require any water or cleaner
- Keeps up to 97% of UV rays from reaching passengers
- Only one level of transparency available
- The larger size makes overlapping more awkward
For those who want a sunshade exclusively for their windshield, Autoamerics might be the answer. One of the big issues with purchasing a windshield sunshade is the size. Windshields size tends to vary much more than passenger side windows. For that reason, buying a front sunshade can be a major challenge. If your vehicle is an odd size, a windshield sunshade can cost more than you’d expect.
Autoamerics eliminates the sizing issue, including two smaller sunshades which, when put together, fit the entirety of your windshield. If you have a very small or large vehicle, then Autoamerics offers shades in small and large sizes, to go along with their universal size.
One of the most beneficial features is the silver coated reflective material that faces the outside. Reflective surfaces keep the harmful UV rays out, protecting the electronics in your car while keeping the interior from excessive fading. The black material on the other side is more effective in keeping your car cool.
In addition to protecting items sitting in your car, Autoamerics wants to make clear that a proper sunshade will improve your fuel economy. Less heat within your car means less air conditioning needed to cool it, resulting in improved gas mileage.
Installation of these sunshades is simple. There are no suction cups or a static film. Fit relies on the wire frame wedging into the sides of your windshield. While this might seem flimsy, the horizontal or vertical fit of the shades ensures that there will be at least one orientation that allows the shades to firmly fit in your vehicle.
- Selection of three sizes to ensure proper fit in your vehicle: small, universal, and large
- Two sunshades per pack allow you to align shades to perfectly fit your windshield
- Silver and black surfaces combine to keep UV rays and heat out
- Comes with a bonus pair of non-slip, dashboard pads for your keys and electronics
- Fit may be awkward for odd-sized vehicles; users should measure before purchasing
- 90-day refund policy does not match competitor policies
Magnelex offers a prototypical one-piece car sunshade that is simple to install and remove. There are four sizes on offer: small, medium, large, and extra-large. According to most reviews, the medium will fit the majority of sedans. Extra-large fits larger pick-ups and vehicles of that type.
While this sunshade is of the “pop-up” type, it manages to fit snugly thanks to the varied size. A slightly larger size will help you wedge the shade into the sides of your windshield. Magnelex suggests lowering your sun visors to provide further support.
Sun will not get into your car with this sunshade. The shade has 210T polyester. A measure of material weight indicates how much polyester material is within the shade. The more material, the more coverage your car has from the sun and UV rays.
Purchasing a Magnelex sunshade will also net you a bonus steering wheel cover. While somewhat redundant, some may appreciate having an extra-cool steering wheel on a scorching day.
Like most other pop-up type shades, this Magnelex is easily folded into a storage bag.
- Variety of sizes ensures a proper fit on your vehicle
- A dense layer of polyester keeps heat and UV rays out
- The durable material bends and compacts into a small, portable pouch
- Extra fabric around rearview mirror mount eliminates seepage of light
- Despite four different sizes, some may not be able to keep the shade propped up in their car
- Lack of multiple layers is not optimal for keeping heat out
With full side window coverage, TFY wants to ensure your passengers are comfortable and protected from UV rays as possible. TFY offers its two-piece set and fits nearly all compact vehicles. Each set pairs with the rear windows on your vehicle.
These sunshades have your small children in mind. Applying the TFY sunshade is easy. Open your rear door and slide the shade over the top of the door, until it is snug over the entire window. Best of all, you can open and close the door with the shade attached. It will not hinder regular door operation. You can open the window to allow a breeze, and the TFY will still not come off.
Made with stretchable nylon mesh, the shades fit comfortably around most rear windows. The black color absorbs heat and UV rays, limiting the amount of radiation delivered to backseat passengers. Since the shade covers both sides of the window, it gives double the protection. While too dark to be legal for the front windows, it is legal for the rear.
Nylon is an extremely compactable material, so when the shades are not in use, they can pack away quickly, and a small baggie comes with each purchase for storage. TFY states that the size of your rear windows can be from 25 to 45 inches across and up to 18 inches tall.
- Allows doors to open and close freely without having to remove the shade
- Windows can still open with the sunshade attached, allowing airflow without UV rays
- Fits nearly all compact to regular-sized sedans
- Comes in a set of 2 for both rear windows
- More expensive than most static cling designs
- Too dark for legal front window placement
Comparing the Options
|Brand||Side or Windshield||# of Shades in Set||Attachment Method||Price|
|kinder Fluff||Side||4||Static Cling||$$|
|TFY||Side (rear only)||2||Mesh Sleeve||$$$|
Choosing the best overall car sunshade depends on how you want to use it. Considering all the options, kinder Fluff wins. The versatility of their shade is unbeatable, and the transparency options are not available from other manufacturers. At a reasonable price, kinderFluff is a practical option for drivers or kids who want to be out of the sun while on the move.
If you are looking for a windshield option, then Autoamerics’ shade is best. Autoamerics is also versatile, similar to kinder Fluff. With two identically sized shades, you can mix and match positions and sizes to get the most coverage. Both shades fit with a wire frame that is flexible enough to wedge itself into place against the molding of your vehicle.
For those who are concerned about getting too much UV radiation, go with a brand that promises to knock out 99% of harmful rays, such as kinder Fluff. If you just want your passengers to be comfortable, TFY’s breathable mesh is best as it allows you to open the window while still maintaining a level of protection.
When choosing a car sunshade, make sure you take into consideration who, or what, you want to protect from the sun and the size of your car.
Sunshades do more than just keep harmful UV rays of your children. They keep the internal temperature of your car lower, forcing your car to work less when the air conditioning activates. When the car works less, you save gas and improve vehicle efficiency.
If you have electronics such as a GPS or tablet, a sunshade will keep them from overheating if you tend to leave them in your car for long periods.
Regardless of what you buy, a sunshade is a must because they will protect your skin from acquiring harmful UV rays. They will also maintain the appearance of your interior and improve the efficiency of your car.