Do Car Sunshades and Window Screens Really Work?

Driving in the summertime can be a quest in itself, considering how hot it gets. So how do you keep it cool inside the car? Aside from seeking shade, do things like sunshades work?

Car sunshades and window screens do work effectively for all vehicles. These products are specifically designed to keep the heat out of a vehicle. The shade’s reflective surface deflects the sun’s solar and UV rays, while the non-reflective surface absorbs them, creating a helpful barrier.

Although simple, sunshades are perhaps one of the most valuable items for cars. To find out more about car sunshades, here is an in-depth look at this useful protective device.

Car sunshades are very simple but valuable components of any car.

The Science Behind Sunshades

The science behind a car sunshade is straightforward, but nonetheless impressive.

Generally, there are two types of car sunshades, reflective and non-reflective. Each sunshade has similar functions which work because of its construction.

Reflective Sunshades

Reflective sunshades are typically stuck to the windshield outside of the car. They have a thin sheet of foil to reflect the light that hits the screen. These sheets are typically made from mesh or aluminum foil. When light enters your car, this sunshade essentially throws back the light, thus keeping the heat and brightness out of the car.

Any sunlight that does manage to seep through gets absorbed by other materials in your car. This includes the seats, dashboard, steering wheel, and everything else.

Non-Reflective Sunshades

Non-reflective sunshades use black material and fabric such as foam or polyester to block the ultraviolet and infrared rays. Unlike their reflective counterparts, non-reflective shades do not block out the heat as much because there’s nothing to bounce off of. The black color of the fabric does trap a bit of light from coming in.

Unfortunately, there’s no way around the heat from completely entering the car. But the lack of ultraviolet and infrared rays prevents the car from heating up like an oven. These shades are stuck from the inside, meaning that the sunlight sometimes finds a way to seep in. But it all depends on how you’ve adjusted the sunshades to the windows.

These sunshades work well in keeping your vehicle’s inside temperature cool and normal. However, it does help if you follow other instructions and tips alongside using them.

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How To Place Car Sunshades Properly

Sunshades work best if you know how to install one in your car.

When using reflective sunshades, always put them inside the car with the reflecting side facing out and the black side of the sunshade facing in. Given that it’s the reflective side that the sunlight reflects, you’ll want to be sure the right side is working.

Non-reflective sunshades are typically designed according to the measurements of an average car window or with suction cups. Generally, it shouldn’t be too difficult to adjust the non-reflective side. However, you may need to push and stretch the sunshades to get them to fit properly in the windows.

Either way, the black side faces in unless the sunshades’ instructions say otherwise.

Are Sunshades Necessary?

Sunshades are necessary to prevent UV rays from damaging your car’s seats or electronics. Investing in car sunshades now saves you from expensive repairs later. Even if you don’t live in a relatively hot part of the world, the sun can easily make a car hot on the inside.

Seat covers can fade in color; leather can dry out; even electronics can stop working if your car is subjected to extended sun exposure.

Another good reason to have sunshades for your car is privacy. You can use them while driving or when your car is parked in public spaces.

Having sunshades on your windows allows you to drive with more privacy as people on the road cannot see you properly. Also, you can prevent people from looking at what’s inside your car when you leave it parked somewhere.

Different Sunshades for Your Car

Branching off from the two types of car sunshades, there are 3 subtypes, each named for their structure:

  • Standard
  • Retractable
  • Collapsible

Keep reading to learn more on how these car sunshades differ from each other and which one you should get to suit your needs.

Choose Standard Sunshades for Cheap Alternatives

These are the accordion-shaped sunshades you’ll find in any automotive supply store. They’re affordable and work well but can be challenging to install for first-timers. Standard sunshades are the cheapest selection, so if you’re looking for a cute sunshade with designs, you won’t have much luck.

These don’t always look good because overusing the sunshade makes the aluminum foil look unkempt and crinkly. However, if you don’t care about aesthetics, the standard option is perfect.

Choose Retractable Sunshades for Customization

Retractable sunshades are more expensive. But they’re also the least cumbersome if you hate opening up the foldable Accordion sunshades every time you have to begin your journey.

Retractable shades attach to the inside of your car windshield with the help of suction cups. These shades come with brackets that attach to both sides of your windshield. Once done, all you have to do is unhook the sunshade when necessary and unfold it to the other side.

These sunshades are customizable and can be operated with one hand.

Choose Collapsible Sunshades for Portability

Collapsible sunshades fit in the middle category. They’re less expensive than retractable shades, are easy to install, typically are of good quality, and come with a small travel bag you can fold them away in.

Collapsible sunshades aren’t as much a hassle as retractable or even standard sunshades. These fit on your windshield more easily than the standard option and come in a variety of styles. If you’re looking for a specific fit for your car model, you’ll have no problem finding one online or even at your local store.

Are Sunshades Durable?

How often you use your sunshades can affect their longevity.

The average sunshade is designed to be as durable as possible. However, if sunshades are your only line of defense against the heat inside your car, these will become damaged more quickly, just like any item you frequently use.

Even if you have a standard cheap set of sunshades, use different methods to keep your car cool without depending on your sunshades:

  • Crack open the windows, if possible. Even if you have your sunshades on, this allows the air to circulate and keeps the interior temperature cooler.
  • Park in the shade wherever possible and keep the doors open for a while. Air circulation makes all the difference in the world, especially if your car has been closed for a while.
  • Use your air conditioning system. While this may seem like a no-brainer, most people skip on the AC because the car feels cooler. However, you want to give your car’s interior components some respite, even if they’re at room temperature or cooler. This also helps keep the AC system working well and gives you the chance to catch any AC problems before they become serious.


Car sunshades are very simple but valuable components of any car owner’s car care collection. Sunshades prevent sunlight from heating the car and keep your car cool. Plus, they can give you more privacy while in the car.

Use the information above to make the right choice for your car, and remember the tips we’ve provided to increase your sunshades’ durability. With the proper selection of sunshades, your car will stay protected from any sun damage that might negatively affect your car’s function or aesthetic.



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