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12 June 2008

OpenSky Heat-Reflective Sunshades

The 'OpenSky' double sunroof is one of the things I really like about the A3. But since Audi decided to use perforated instead of solid/opaque sunshades, they do cause the interior to get really hot when parked in the summer sun. It's not just the light passing through the glass that heats up the car, but the dark glass itself becomes hot and radiates heat in even if you move the car into the shade.

Here's a quick and easy solution: Make a set of heat-reflective mylar sunshades.

First thing you will need is a roll of Reflectix insulation. You can find it at Lowes for about $20.00 for the 16"-wide roll, or you can order it on-line if you can't find it locally. The Reflectix is available in a few widths. Lowes had 16" and 48" rolls. I chose the 16" one since it was adequate for this project.

Reflectix is basically bubble-wrap with a layer of mylar film on each side. That makes it pretty fragile, and you'll see this as soon as you go to unroll it. The end is taped down, and since the tape messes up the mylar, you'll wind up wasting the first go-round of the roll. Cut that part off after the point where it was taped, and use it for patterns, experimenting, etc.

Making the shade for the front roof panel is easy. The 16" width of the roll is just about right for the narrow dimension, so you just have to measure and cut a piece 30" long. You may find that you'll need to trim it down to 29.5", so this gives you a little extra to work with.

Place your new reflective shade against the sunroof glass, and carefully close the roller shade under it. Make sure you don't get it caught in the roller shade tracks, and don't snag the back/corners of with the roller shade.

Now, make another one for the rear. This time you should cut it to 29.5" long to start with, and maybe trim it down slightly if necessary. You will also need to trim a strip off the long edge. Measure and mark 13" on both short edges, and use a straightedge & sharpie to mark your cutline. Cut it with scissors, and you should have a 29.5" x 13" shade.

Install it in the rear the same way as you did in the front.

I don't like to drive around with the shades in (I really, really hate not having the light and 'openness' of a sunroof), but I've used them when parking outside at work in 97degF direct sun, and they work great! More so than the rest of the headliner, actually. After the car has been parked in the sun I can feel heat radiating through the headliner, but none at all under where the reflective shades are. It makes the car effectively sunroof-less as far as light & heat are concerned.

Now I want to use the rest of the roll to make shades for the side and back glass, but I have to figure out how to hold them in place. (Velcro dots on the black windowframes would be almost invisible, but I'm not sure I want to do that).


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