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.

Photos of the three window shades described in this article in place on a Subaru Legacy rear window.

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.


12 Responses to “Review: SunCutters Car Window Shades”

  1. STL Mom says:

    Or, for just $25,000 or so, you could buy a minivan with pre-shaded side windows. Then you only have to worry about driving east in the morning and west in the evening.

    June 6th, 2007 at 5:49 pm

  2. Dog Lover says:

    I was surfing for window shades for the back seat of my Camry as we have a long trip planned with our dog. Found your blog; thanks for your homerun comments!

    July 7th, 2007 at 10:59 am

  3. Darress says:

    Thanks for providing measurements of the shades. They were very helpful in deciding if the fit is right for my application.

    September 10th, 2007 at 9:32 am

  4. California Mom says:

    Thanks for the report on the contoured window shades! I was researching these and they sound like just what we need.
    Also, one thing you didn’t mention about the vinyl stick-on type sunscreens (attempt #2) is that they are blurry to look through and impossible at night.

    January 15th, 2008 at 12:08 pm

  5. Anna's mom says:

    Thank you so much. I, too, have had sun shade issues, and was all set to order some from a catalog until I read the online reviews for it. I hope these will work for us–I got some for all side windows and the rear, too.

    May 16th, 2008 at 8:59 am

  6. kevin hewitt says:

    When i am ready to order how do i order on the this site i am looking @ picture number 2 i wouold like to order this.

    October 16th, 2008 at 12:00 pm

  7. Christina says:


    December 11th, 2008 at 9:29 pm

  8. Hannah Houx says:

    Thanks so much for this review!! I have tried multiple times to find good shades for my son! I am now confident that the Sun Cutter’s will work wonderfully. Especially up here in Alaska where we have sun all day long in the summer! Not to mention the fact that I resent the idea of owning a mini van. :) Thanks again.

    January 29th, 2009 at 11:33 pm

  9. Mary Kay` says:

    I’m hoping to find these this late date of August 2009. Seems like 9 out of 10 times lately my favorite things and most good things have changed for the not-so-better and also more expensive, or simply discontinued version(s). Thanks for your input.

    August 16th, 2009 at 9:54 am

  10. Charlotty says:

    Love your blog on sunshade. I got #3 after reading your post.

    August 25th, 2009 at 9:38 pm

  11. Kristin says:

    Thank you for this. I just found it after an afternoon of frustration and cursing with a pre-cut DIY window tint kit that I ended up ripping off in frustration anyway. I’m on my way to the store…

    November 11th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

  12. mapsgirl says:

    Also something to remember, anything that attaches to your window will become a flying object should your window break during a collision.

    You don’t want a metal bar to be thrown at the child or you. #1 is definitely not recommended by car seat technicians.

    May 4th, 2010 at 11:30 am