Are Vent Shades Worth It? Some are


I’m a auto technician for over twenty five years and I’ve been fitting vent shades for about as long. I’d say that’s pretty good evidence car owners think they are indeed worth it.

Vehicle vent shades are worth it, they offer many advantages, sleek styling, increase cabin comfort, greater security. Quality brands are easy to fit and offer the best overall vent shade ownership experience.

In this post I’ll cover why I think vent shades are worth your money and effort. I’ll cover the two basic types and I’ll recommend the shade I’ve fitting for years and why.

One Good Reason To Fit Vent Shades

I’ve been fitted all types of auto accessories over the years and seen many come and go, vent shades have remained pretty much constant. I’ve noticed lately some auto makers come fit vent shades as standard, and you know they did a ton of market research before arriving at that decision. Spare wheel or vent visors? mmm….

Anyway, I can think of more one good reason to fit them. Yea, the simple vent visor comes with a ton of advantages, but it’s not all free wheeling, there are a few down sides too.

Cabin Comfort

The obvious advantage is the comfort offered by vent visors. Occupants can now crack a window safe from wind buffeting the cabin or rain driving in. Cracking a window is a huge advantage if your car is prone to fogging up, and some vehicles just are.

Their HVAC systems just aren’t up to the job, especially if you have a car full of occupants or carrying a wet dog.

Other obvious advantages include removing stale air from the cabin, cigarette smoke etc., or simply removing hot air from the interior without all the fuss.

Vent Shade Styling

Many fit the vent visor because it looks good, and I agree. The sleek nature of even a basic black window shade changes the look of a vehicle. Of course they’re available in many different type shapes, materials and colors, that’s all a matter of taste.

For me I like the simple understated black low profile visor, a classic and will always look good.

Cabin Security

Widow down with vent shade

If you like to return to a cool car but aren’t sure you should leave a window cracked. Fear not, black vent shades will easily disguise the fact the windows are cracked. Even if they were spotted, the sleek low profile nature of vents won’t make easy access.

Types Of Vent Shades

There are a ton of different styles of vent shade, however there are only two basic types. The out of channel (or stick on type) and the in channel. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and I can definitely recommend one over the other.

Out of channel

Out of channel vent shade

The out of channel, or self adhesive type is easier to fit, but easy to get wrong also. And if you do, it’s difficult to put right. The out of channel as their name suggests, stick to the vehicles door frame, outside the window channel. As with any task, fitting the out of channel shades successfully will require following a few basic procedures. I cover the process below in more detail.

Some of the disadvantages of out of channel include the following:

  • Can be tricky to align
  • One chance fitting
  • Don’t look as sleek
  • Can be a source of wind noise
  • Removing can be difficult
  • Can mark paintwork when removed

Advantages to out of channel:

  • Fast fit
  • Least expensive

In Channel

Fitting vent shades in window channel

The in channel are as you’ve guessed, fit inside the window channel or frame. This is more work but I think worth it. I believe the in channel are superior in look and performance. I use WeatherTech a lot, because they make great products that actually fit. You can check them out on the Parts Geek link below.

Find Deals Up to 70% Off on WeatherTech Products at Parts Geek! Shop Now for Huge Savings!

You may not get away from aligning sticky tape completely, some in channel also employ self adhesive tape. But for the most part, you’ll find fitting these easy. I cover the whole process below.

Some of the disadvantages of in channel window shades:

  • Fitting more complex
  • Takes longer to fit
  • More expensive

Advantages to out of channel:

  • More forgiving of mistakes when fitting
  • Easily removed
  • Better fit and finish
  • Less wind noise

Fitting Vent Shades

For the most part you won’t find this difficult. It won’t require many tools if any at all. Some vehicles may be more complex than others and by complex I mean they may also employ more than one type of fastener, clips etc.

Fitting out of channel

Cleaning window frame

You already know the out of channel are a stick on type. Meaning the shades come with a self adhesive tape affixed. The process is therefore straight forward, but we’ll need to clean the contact patch. Car wax can cause problems when attempting to stick the shades on. We’ll need to clean the area first. A good kit will come with wax busting alcohol wipes.

The whole process looks like this:

  • Test fit the shades to each window
  • Use tape to mark the start and end points (if you feel you need to)
  • Using alcohol wipes, clean the adhesive contact area
  • Test fit once again before removing 3″ of tape from one end only (fold the 3 ” adhesive backing upward)
  • Stick that end and offer the shade to the frame, sighting and adjusting as needed
  • Remove the remaining tape, (by pulling on the 3″ folded adhesive backing) and push firmly to secure as tape is removed
  • Repeat on all doors

Fitting in channel

Fitting the in channel vent shade

Fitting in channel shades requires little to no tools. A good kit will come with a universal tool that’s used to manipulate the weather stripping and also a measuring tool.

Read the instruction a couple of times and check the contents of the kit are all present and undamaged. Verify the kit is correct for your vehicle.

Fitting the in channel shade entails fitting the shade lip into the window rail, open all windows before starting. Avoid fitting vent shades on a cold day, while they are flexible at normal temperatures, low temperature fitting risks cracking the shades and warranty won’t cover that. Shades are normally marked left and right or stamped L and R.

Starting on a front window, the process is as follows:

  • Insert the shade lip into one side of the rail
  • Bow the shade outwards and feed the other side into the window rail
  • Using the included tool, feed the shade into the rail each side alternately
  • Once in place, roll the window up and down to help seat the shade
  • Repeat on the other side
Fitting rear shade

Fitting the rear are usually a little different, the process looks like this:

  • Using the included tool’s ruler, measure from each window edge approx. 3″
  • Fit included clips to each measured location (use tool)
  • Offer the rear shade to the window diagonally
  • Insert the shade lip into one side of the window rail
  • Place the other shade end into the rail and slide upwards
  • Push home until it engages the clips
  • Roll window up and down a few times to seat the shade
  • Repeat on the other side

That’s it, you’re a pro!

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty years, I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of classic car ownership, from tires to roof aerials and everything in between.

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