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Can you put an awning on a small car?

You can fit awnings specifically designed for cars and smaller sized cars. It is important to pay attention to the right size awning so that you do not attach too large of an awning to your vehicle. 

There are a couple considerations to factor in including; what type of car awning is right for your vehicle, the different size options and the essential features of an awning to make sure you get with your awning.

Car Side Awning

Key Takeaways

  • Awnings can be added to small cars for outdoor protection and comfort.
  • You need to select the right size width according to your cars length - a 2.0m width is common for most small cars.
  • Most car awnings are attached to the roof bars or roof racks.
  • A tailgate car awning is attached to the boot and doesn't require roof bars.


1. Choosing the right awning

When selecting an awning for your small car, it's crucial to understand the different types available, the features you should look for, and the appropriate size that matches your car's specifications.

Types of Car Awnings

Car awnings come in various forms, tailored to suit different needs and vehicle sizes. The most common types include:

Car Side Awnings:

Typically attached to the side of your vehicle so the awning unfolds outwards to the side of your car. This type of awning are attached to roof raks can be a manual pull-out awning or retractable for extra convenience. 

180 or 270 degree awnings:

Unlike the side awning these awnings are larger and wrap around your vehicle creating a bigger area of cover. Like the Car side awning they are a different type of roof rack awning.

180 Car Awning


Tailgate Awnings:

These rear awnings attach to the back of your car and typically can be assembled with the boot open giving you access to your vehicle whilst giving you shade and protection from the weather.

    Essential Features

    4 Essential features for car awnings

    When choosing between car awnings, there several key features that you should look to get when making your decision:

    • Waterproofing: To stay dry, opt for awnings made of waterproof materials such as 420d polyester oxford canvas. You can check their Hydrostatic Head Rating; a 5000mm HH Rating will have great waterproofing.
    • UV Sun Protection: Ensure the awning fabric has a UV coating to protect against harmful sun rays and provide ample shade.
    • Materials: Look for high-quality, durable materials like aluminium for the frame and the canvas material should be a high quality fabric like rip-stop polyester Oxford canvas.
    • Mould Resistance: Choose materials that are mould-resistant, especially in damp environments, to extend the life of your awning.


    2. What size awning is right for my small car?

    The correct awning size for a small car should balance adequate coverage and easy manageability. Consider the following:

    • Vehicle Match: An awning too large can be unwieldy; too small, and it won't provide the needed cover. Measure your car's length and width to find a size-appropriate awning.
    • Coverage Space: The space you need to cover for shade and shelter will dictate the awning's size. A common size for small cars is around 2.0 x 2.5 metres.
    • Weight Considerations: Lightweight awnings are preferable for small cars to avoid strain on the vehicle.

    Selecting the right awning involves considering your specific vehicle, the desired features, and the awning's size. By understanding these elements, you can make a well-informed decision for your small car awning needs.

    2.0m x 2.5m Car Side Awning

    The 2.0m x 2.5m car side awning offers a good amount shade & protection from the weather for a small vehicle. With a coverage area of 5 square meters, it still provides ample space for individuals or small groups to enjoy outdoor activities without direct exposure to the sun or rain. This size is particularly suited for solo travellers or couples looking for a balance between usability and minimalistic design. 

    180 or 270 degree Car Awning

    For a small car a packed length of less than 2.5m may be ideal. Larger awnings than this will be too bulky and long for your small car. It's best to measure the length of your car and determine whether or not there will be too much overhang when the awning is fully assembled. 

    Tailgate Awning

    Tailgate awnings are great because they suit a wide range of vehicles in terms of their width. So for smaller cars they can fit a small width to the back of their vehicle connecting to their boot. The tailgate awning will fit a range of widths like the Kampa Tailgate awning which fits between widths of 160 - 220cm.


    3. Installing the car awning

    When you decide to install an awning on your small car, it’s crucial to select the correct awning and ensure that it fits securely to your vehicle. Follow these specific steps to achieve a safe and effective setup.

      Fitting to Your Vehicle

      Once you've acquired the right awning, it's time to attach it to your vehicle. Here's a brief guide:

      1. Attach Roof Bars/Racks: If not already installed, fit roof bars or racks securely to your car according to the manufacturer's instructions. Use stainless steel fixings for longevity.

        • Tighten all bolts and nuts to ensure stability.
      2. Awning Setup:

        • Position the awning on the roof rack, and slide the t-bolts into the appropriate groove.
        • Secure the awning with nuts and ensure it is evenly placed.
      3. Poles and Guy Ropes:

        • Assemble poles and extend them to support the awning's weight.
        • Attach guy ropes and secure them with pegs for additional wind resistance.

      Always ensure all components are firmly secured before use, and check for any wear over time.

      4. Practical Applications

      Installing an awning on your small car can significantly enhance your outdoor experience by providing versatile shelter and protection against the elements.

      Recreational Use

      For your recreational escapades, whether it's a camping trip or a picnic, a car awning extends your living space, giving you a shaded area to relax. A side awning quickly deploys to create an instant canopy beside your car, perfect for roadside stops or when parking space is at a premium. If you prefer more enclosure, awning rooms can be attached to the main structure, offering privacy and additional protection from wind and insects.

      • Benefits include:
        • Increased outdoor living space for relaxation
        • Quick and easy setup for spontaneous use

      Weather Protection

      Your small car's awning serves as a valuable shelter from the unpredictable British weather, be it rain or harsh sun. By using a tailgate awning, which connects to the back of your vehicle, you can keep your gear dry and create a protected space to change out of wet clothes or to cook during a downpour.

      • Protection aspects:
        • Offers a dry area for gear storage
        • Provides shade from UV rays, helping to keep the adjacent interior of your car cooler

      By utilising an awning, you can enjoy the outdoors with a little extra comfort and convenience, no matter the weather conditions or intended recreation.

      5. Maintenance and Accessories

      Ensuring your small car's awning remains in prime condition and maximising its functionality requires appropriate maintenance and the selection of suitable accessories. Regular upkeep and strategic accessory choices can both prolong the life of your awning and enhance your experience.

      Care and Storage

      Maintenance of Your Awning: To maintain your awning's durability, clean it regularly with mild soap and water, avoiding harsh chemicals. Make sure it's thoroughly dry before storage to prevent mould and mildew. When folding the awning, do so along its natural creases to maintain its shape.

      Storage Best Practices:

      • Store in a cool, dry place.
      • Utilise a protective cover for lengthened lifespan.
      • Keep away from sharp objects to prevent tears.

      Enhancing Your Awning

      Equipment and Accessories: Enhance your awning with additional accessories designed for increased functionality and ease of use. Options may include:

      • Awning accessories: Consider adding side panels for extra weather protection or a mesh screen for bug defence.
      • Setup equipment: Ensure you have a robust set of pegs and sand bags for stability in various ground conditions.
      • Spares: Keep a repair kit with patches and spare parts handy in case of damage.

      By carefully maintaining your awning and smartly choosing accessories, you're investing in extended usability and enhancing your outdoor experience.


      Frequently Asked Questions

      Possessing an awning can significantly enhance your car's utility, providing shade and shelter on your adventures. Here you'll find precise information to guide you through common queries regarding vehicle awnings.

      How do you determine the appropriate size of an awning for a vehicle?

      You must measure the length of your vehicle's roof or side where you plan to mount the awning. Ensure the awning's width does not exceed the vehicle's length and leaves enough room for door openings.

      Is it possible to install a car awning on vehicles with roof rails?

      Yes, cars with roof rails can typically support an awning. You should verify the load capacity of the rails and use compatible fixtures designed for your car model.

      What features should be considered when choosing a universal car awning?

      Key features to consider include water resistance, UV protection, material durability, and ease of setup. It's essential to ensure that the awning attachment system is compatible with a variety of car models.

      Can awnings be securely fitted to smaller cars, and how is this done?

      Awnings can be fitted to smaller cars using specific mounting brackets or suction cups. The fitting must be secure to withstand wind; check the awning manufacturer's guidelines for recommended fitting procedures.

      What are the options for retractable car awnings in the market?

      Retractable car awnings vary in design, from manual rollout models to automated systems. Options include cassette awnings, which retract into a protective case, and pivot arm awnings that fold away.

      What are the benefits of having a boot awning for a car?

      A boot awning extends living space and provides sheltered access to your vehicle's boot. It's advantageous for camping, picnics, and outdoor events, especially when precipitation or strong sun is expected.

      Is it possible to attach an awning to a car with no roof rails?

      Yes, it is possible to attach an awning to a car with no roof rails. You can use a roof rack that attaches to the door frames to mount the awning. However, you should ensure that the roof rack and mounting brackets are compatible with your car's make and model.

      What are the options for a retractable awning for a small car?

      Retractable awnings are a popular option for small cars. They are easy to install and can be retracted when not in use. You can choose between manual and automatic retractable awnings, depending on your preference. Automatic retractable awnings are more expensive but offer greater convenience.


      Gary Cheung profile picture

      Gary Cheung

      Bio Instagram

      Owner & Director at Outdoor Roadie in the UK. Passionate about helping people get outdoors and travelling. Knowledgeable in all things roof tents, caravan awnings and camping gear.