As a lifelong Floridian, I know all too well that sometimes my car’s AC just doesn’t cut it. A little cooling boost from an under-$30 fan? That’s a no brainer. Whether you prefer a unit that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter or a USB port, the best car fans quietly cool and stay firmly in place, no matter how fast you're cruising.
Car fans are powered by either battery/USB (5 volts) or your car’s cigarette lighter (12 volts) and there are pros and cons to each. While a 12-volt fan powered by a cigarette lighter will be more powerful, you'll need to be sure to choose a model with a cord long enough to reach your ideal fan placement. A battery-powered fan is portable for use in your car or anywhere, but you’ll need to remember to charge it first with a USB-connected power source.
Car fans usually attach via a sturdy clip to interiors like vents and dashboard mirrors, but some come with adhesive or tripod mountings that allow more custom placement. Though you want a fan that’s powerful enough to cool on a hot day, choose a quiet fan that works at less than 60 decibels, which is the noise level of normal conversation. The best car fans have multiple speed settings and may include some other features, like 360-degree rotation, oscillation, or remote control for adjusting the speed.
Each of the four fans below is highly rated on Amazon, including one pick with more than 4,000 reviews.
1. A Car Cooling Fan With A Long Enough Cord For The Backseat
This car fan can reach your front or backseat, thanks to its 8-foot cord, and plugs into your car's cigarette lighter. One reviewer commented this fan even extends to cool their kids sitting in the third row of a car, and this 12-volt pick comes with clips to keep the cord in place along the way. With a stepless speed switch that allows you to adjust the wind speed, 360-degree tilt rotation, and a remote control (so you can adjust the fan as it cools the backseat), this clip-on fan works quietly at less than 50 decibels. Another reviewer commented, "this thing was a Godsend!" for keeping her dogs cool on a road trip. Dual head front seat and dual head back seat fans are also options.
A helpful review: “We live in Yuma Az where it gets above 120 degrees, and this fan is now a MUST! I wasn't sure how forceful the air would be, but I was very pleasantly surprised. My daughter even had to turn it down a bit it was so cool (which is great, because you can easily turn it down, and the higher speeds will be there when she does want/need it) [...]"
2. This USB Car Fan That Can Also Diffuse Essential Oils
This USB car fan is also an all-purpose oscillating fan to keep your car — and you — feeling fresh. This highly rated clip-on fan, with over 2,000 reviews, comes with a lithium battery that recharges via USB — and it can be used while charging. The 5-volt fan's working time is six to 40 hours (depending on the speed) and takes three to four hours for a full charge.
Choose from four speed settings with stepless speed regulation, and rotate the fan 360 degrees vertically or horizontally; it oscillates automatically 80 degrees. This pick comes with a 3-foot USB cord and functions at less than 40 decibels, which several reviewers commented is "whisper quiet." A bonus feature is you can add essential oils to this fan for aromatherapy.
A helpful review: “Perfect fan! It can be cordless, or usb charged for easy travel in the car. It has a pivoting fan that oscillates as well. Fan speed is easily controlled with [a] knob and it has a great range of speeds. The fan itself is pretty quiet and I’m going to be using it for my newborn. I love that you can add essential oils to the provided pads. Overall great purchase.”
3. The Dash Fan With Dual Heads
Those who spend a lot of time in their cars with other people may prefer this dash fan with dual heads. Each fan is independently controlled and has three speed settings so both the driver and passenger can adjust it to their perfect level of coolness. The fans can rotate 360 degrees, and the base securely attaches to your dashboard with adhesive stickers.
Plug this 5-volt fan's 54-inch USB cable into your car's charger. It also works with a PC/laptop, power bank, AC adapter, and other USB-enabled power supplies. The fans work quietly at less than 50 decibels.
A helpful review: “Unusual product! I got this fan to use in my car until the AC is fixed. It works perfectly with a USB portable battery device. It has different speeds and the fan heads swivel. [...] I use it in different locations around the car and it also provides a good breeze on my RV patio.”
4. A Portable Car Fan With Sturdy Wraparound Attachments
This portable car fan is a favorite with a 4.3 rating and over 5,000 reviews, and it's the only one on this list with unique wraparound legs. The tripod style of this fan gives it the flexibility to attach to different areas around your car or elsewhere when you arrive at your destination.
This battery-powered fan charges via its USB cable plugged into a power bank, car charger, or computer. After 3.5 hours, the fan's full charge works for three to eight hours depending on the speed used. You can choose from one of three speed settings, and though the decibel level isn't provided, reviewers report it’s quiet enough to use around sleeping babies. This 5-volt fan is also available in black, blue, or pink.
A helpful review: “We got this for our son's car seat/carrier. In Texas it’s hot hot hot, so we wrap this guy on the handle to keep air moving around when we’re out. Works good in the car also. [...] This helps blow the colder air on him in her car. It also blows really hard for such a small fan. We love it!”