Best car window shades 2021

Which of these car sun blinds puts its rivals in the shade?

Long journeys on hot summer days can be a nightmare for rear-seat passengers, especially if your car doesn’t have tinted glass. The glare from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) A/B rays will often be unpleasant and can cause sunburn in the short term and even skin cancer in the longer term. 

With nothing to block the effects of the sun, the car’s interior will heat up, despite air-con, so fitting rear sunblinds makes a lot of sense, even more so when children or pets are in the car. Make sure you check the size of the blinds you buy and that they are suitable for the windows in your car because a supermini doesn’t need the same size as a people carrier. Equally, if the blind is too small, it’s likely to allow the sun’s rays to sneak through, which negates fitting it.

How we tested them

We tested the blinds when the sun and the UV were at their highest. This is typically around midday, although between 10am and 4pm is when some caution is needed. 

We used a smartphone app and sensor to measure the UV index before and after the blind was installed, and with the window up and down. The UV rating outside the vehicle was approximately 5.0, a reading defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘moderate risk’, and one where some shade and sunscreen are recommended. 

As well as the practical performance tests we marked each blind on its size and coverage, ease of fitting, and instructions, plus its stability once in place, especially bearing in mind that children might try to remove it. We checked if the window could be opened for fresh air, and balanced everything against the price.

Verdict

The Halfords Rear Window Shades retain the Best Buy but, despite the price, it’s hard to ignore the Car Shades versions for fit, performance and quality. The Sumex takes a podium as our pick of the universal shades. 

  1. Halfords Rear Window Sunshades
  2. Car Shades
  3. Sumex Lateral Sunshade 4410008

Reviews

Halfords Rear Window Sunshades

These blinds have risen in price by a couple of pounds since our last test, but they’re still hardly expensive. There’s a choice of three designed to suit different styles and sizes of rear window. They were pleasantly lightweight and simply slotted over the entire frame and glass to give a double thickness.

This was great for UV protection, but made it fairly dark and difficult to see out. Still, the blinds were easy to remove, albeit not on the move. The window could be fully opened while still having protection from bugs and stones, which was a plus, although the instructions could be better. 

Buy now from Halfords

Car Shades

Car Shades is our money-no-object favourite, and there’s also the option to buy a set that includes a rear-window shade for £64.99. They come in a large textile bag that makes storage easy, and are tailored to fit specific vehicles. The fit was perfect for our test car, and the shades were easy to secure in place with a pair of sticky pads at the top and a small metal clip on the door trim. The UV protection was perfect and the window could be opened while letting nothing in, and without allowing little fingers to pull the shades loose. 

Buy now from Car Shade

Sumex Lateral Sunshade 4410008

The best of the shades that didn’t cover the entire glass, the Sumex pair still masked an area of almost half a square metre. Long enough to cover almost the whole length

of the window, they were nicely shaped and worked perfectly in cutting all UV with the glass raised.  Fitting was simple, using two rubber suckers, but the lower edge flapped around a little because these were located in the middle. The two removal loops were also a bit flimsy, and where they passed through the shade, the reinforcement was just plastic and didn’t look that strong.

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Halfords Roller Sunshades

  1. Price: £12
  2. Rating: 3.5 stars
  3. Contact: www.halfords.com

The Halfords Roller is a conventional design that seems to have been around for decades. The suction cups, two at the top and one at the bottom, were easily the largest and offered the highest quality of those we tested. Once in place the shade was pulled down to suit, staying put courtesy of a ratchet mechanism.

It wound back quite fiercely after pressing the release button on the end of the roller, so care had to be taken, but it should be well out of reach of young hands. Performance was good, but not quite as effective as the best of those tested. It’s also available as a single shade, at £7.20.

Buy now from Halfords

Caramaz Baby Window Shades

The first of two models using the same basic design: an inner textile mesh backed by an outer polypropylene layer. The latter eschewed suction cups and stickies to use friction to stick to the glass. In this case, the cheerful animal motif would occupy younger children, although if they could reach, it would be easy to pull the shade off. The price let Caramaz down, though, especially when compared with the similar and cheaper Auto Companion (below), but the better performance of the Caramaz in full sun kept it ahead.

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Sumex Lateral Sunshade 4410007

This simple pair of oblong shades are described as three layers of thick mesh, and are of medium size. They were the same size as the Sakura (below) and, despite being more expensive, finished higher because of better UV performance, although this was only average compared to the best. We were able to wind the window down a little, but this required perfect positioning of the shades. Moreover, fitting used two quite flimsy suction cups, which held the shades in place but allowed them to wobble around quite a lot.

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Sakura SWS2

These shades couldn’t be much simpler to fit, with just a single suction cup in the centre. However, the single mount allowed the shade to wobble and turn during road testing. We like the metal binding around the hole in the mesh, which should help prevent tearing, although the loop on the cup doesn’t look as if it would last long.

The shades weren’t as dark as most of the others that we tested, and the poor practicality results were only slightly better than those of the Auto Companion (below). 

Buy now from Amazon

Auto Companion Universal Baby Car Sunshades

Like the Caramaz (above), these shades were pressed into place on the glass, but the thin, spring steel wire edges tended to pull one side out of shape. The handy, soft drawstring textile bag was useful for transporting and storing. There was no motif on the inside mesh, which could account for the lower price, and which would have put the Auto Companion higher in the standings, but the full-sun results were poor. It wasn’t possible to open the window, and they were vulnerable to inquisitive young hands. 

Buy now from Amazon

Now you can keep the sun out, why not look at how to choose the best child car seat

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