DIY

Windshield Sun Shade: The Simplest Protection from Interior Wear and Tear

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Have you ever parked under the sun all afternoon and returned to a scalding hot car? With the average temperature during summer reaching 70 °F to 75 °F in California and in extremes of 80 °F to 85 °F in Texas, you’ll want to keep your car as cool as possible to prevent it from turning into an oven. A windshield sun shade is the simplest form of protection from the summer sun. It’s portable, and can easily attach and detach from your windshield. The greatest part of all, it is an inexpensive solution compared to tinting your car.

What is a windshield sun shade?

Windshield sun shades have been around for quite sometime now and its effectiveness has increased tremendously over time. Through the years, the design of a sun shade has remained relatively the same. It’s a rectangular visor typically held onto the windshield by the sun visor or suction cups. When not in use, it can fold into a portable size. Sun shades are used to block out sunlight, keeping the dashboard and parts of the cabin relatively cooler than if exposed to direct sunlight. Earlier sun shades were made of cardboard which blocked the sun, but did not dissipate heat effectively.

Sun shades are used to block out sunlight, keeping the dashboard and parts of the cabin relatively cooler than if exposed to direct sunlight.

What are the different types of windshield sun shades?

As simple as a sun shade is, there are different types according to how it stows and it functions. Some are made of high-density foam with a reflective metalized polyester film which look like a visor wrapped in aluminum foil. The ease of assembly and disassembly is a big factor in choosing a windshield sun shade. There are ones that roll up like a yoga mat while the typical design folds like an accordion. Keeping the sun shade from falling off could either be suction cups, a light adhesive, or some may even be permanently attached. Windshield sun shades aren’t just for the heat. A specific type of sun shade is used to protect your windshield during winter. It attaches to the outside of your windshield and straps to your side mirrors protecting your windshield from ice and snow buildup.

How does a windshield sun shade work?

Windshields can block most of the UV rays and infrared from the sun. The visible light, however, can still enter you car in the form of short-wave energy which is absorbed by your car’s interior. These short-wave energy then radiate back as long-wave infrared radiation. But don’t worry, this radiation won’t turn you into the Hulk—it’ll just heat up the inside of your car. A parked car recreates the same greenhouse effect which is actually ruining our ozone layer. The sun shade works by blocking the visible light from entering your interior. In the simplest of terms, it creates shade. Metalized sun shades do a better job keeping your car cool because of their reflective properties, unlike other sun shades which try to absorb the heat.

Note: Metalized sun shades do a better job keeping your car cool because of their reflective properties, unlike other sun shades which try to absorb the heat.

Why the sun shade is important?

Interiors are mainly composed of plastics and soft touch material which easily become brittle over time. Exposure to extreme heat and cooling will speed up the deterioration of these interior parts—particularly the dashboard. If you own one of the GMC vehicles that were affected by the cracking dashboard issue (which prompted GM owners to file a class action lawsuit), then your dashboard is even more susceptible to damage from heat and sun exposure, as the affected vehicles allegedly have a defective design that supposedly causes premature cracking.

Toyotas and Lexus also suffer from “melting” dashboards in select models from 2003-2008 due to the oven-like effect the interior creates during hot days. Toyota addressed this with an extended warranty on the dashboard, but you can easily avoid your dashboard from melting with a sun shade. Leaving your interior exposed to the sun will also damage leather seats and other plastics. Blasting your A/C when you enter a scalding vehicle will stress the system and will eventually lead to damage.

Having a sun shade is the cheapest way of protecting your interior. If you want to take it a notch further, consider installing a visor or tint. Check your local laws before you tint your windshield to avoid getting stopped by the police. There are different sizes of sun shades so you can choose the one which will directly fit onto your windshield. Full coverage of the windshield will prevent more visible light from entering so getting the correct size will have the best effect!

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In the Garage with CarParts.com is an online blog dedicated to bringing DIYers and devoted car enthusiasts up to date with topical automotive news and lifestyle content. Our writers live and breathe automotive, taking the guess work out of car repairs with how-to content that helps owners get back on the road and keep driving.

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