Wednesday, June 6th, 2007
Review: SunCutters Car Window Shades
After three years with a baby on board, I’ve found a new car window sunscreen. It’s the shadowy hand of the Rule of Threes at work in our life again, the principle that the first two versions of a baby product you buy are wrong choices and by the third you’ve become wiser.
Strike #1: Adjust ‘n Lock Car Shades by The First Years.
These shades are sold everywhere and you see everyone using them, which is why it was my first buy. The unit hangs by a hook over the top of your window. You then pull the shade down like a traditional window shade and lock it in place with a suction cup. The problem is, the shade is 13.5 inches wide, way, way, way, way too small. Little Miss often got a face full of sunlight accompanied by shrieks and cries.
Strike #2: Baby on Board SunShade by Safety 1st.
This is a vinyl cling shade. At 21 inches wide, it provides decent protection from direct sunlight, but it has three problems.
First, it’s difficult to apply, and so you won’t want to remove it. You end up keeping the shades on the windows even on cloudy days when you don’t need them. If you buy this type of shade, look for newer versions that darken only on bright days.
Second, did I say difficult to apply? I meant major pain in the arse to install. I spent a half-hour per window, even using a squeegee, trying to smooth out air bubbles trapped between the shade and the window. I actually bought a second set for our other car, but never had the fortitude to apply them.
Third, you can’t open the window with the sunscreen attached. While that is true of all three sunscreens mentioned here, again, Safety 1st is the only one that does not easily detach.
#3 Homerun: SunCutters Profile Shade by Auto Expressions
We discovered these shades this week while scouting for inexpensive flashlights at K-Mart for our daughter’s third birthday party (long story). The shades weren’t in the baby aisle where you’ll find shades by The First Years. No, they are in the automotive section, which also houses all the good non-camping flashlights.
The “Profile” version of SunCutters is 25 inches at its widest point and contoured to fit the general shape of most rear car windows. They stick to your window with two suction cups, and are removed by pulling a ring attached to each suction cup. The shades fit superbly in our Toyota Camry and (shown) Subaru Legacy.
When not in use, you bend-twist them into a small circle and stuff into a storage bag.
Epiphany: My almost-3-year-old daughter sometimes insists on wearing sunglasses on car trips. Her preference for eye protection seemed random. I didn’t consider that we had different sunscreens in our two cars.
When I asked Little Miss if she wanted her sunglasses for our most recent car trip, she said, “No, because the things are on the windows.” Then I realized, she always wears sunglasses in the car that has small First Years shades, and they have since been replaced by Suncutters.