In this Guide
Vacuuming out your car can be a real challenge! Cars are full of nooks and crannies that are hard to reach with the average-sized vacuum, and they have lots of different surfaces which require different attachments and tools for cleaning them. And most household models are a pain to lug out to the garage, or down the stairs in an apartment building.
How do you know which one will do the trick? It’s hard to know, since there’s no category for “car vacuums.” Several vacuums are marketed with car kits, but they’re pretty expensive for the average buyer.
You need one that can supplement your house vacuum without breaking the bank. We know they can be hard to find, so we’ve done some research to help you out. We compared lots of flexible, agile options that are perfect for cleaning out your car!
On this page, you’ll find our in-depth reviews of our three top choices. We’ve combined our own research and analysis with a comprehensive look at what previous buyers are saying about these products online.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll also find our guide to how to shop for the top vacuum for your vehicle!
– Eureka EasyClean
– Black & Decker Pivot
– Shark Rocket
Our Reviews of the Vacuums for Cars
1. Eureka EasyClean
The Eureka is our least expensive recommendation for a car vacuum.
It’s a rugged little handheld with dual motors and a powered brush head. At less than $50, it’s a great choice for supplementing your household model without putting a dent in your pocketbook.
Plus, you’ll be able to use it on your furniture upholstery and carpeted stairs indoors!
The corded design means you’ll never run out of power. Cleaning a vehicle can be fairly time consuming, given how many different surfaces, nooks, and crannies you’ll have to tackle. The 15 minute runtime on a cordless model can be up before you know it!
Plus, the 20-foot power cord means you’re not sacrificing maneuverability.
There are 2 onboard motors. One produces suction, and the other drives the powered brush head. The Eureka is pretty unique in that it has a second, dedicated motor. We like it because you won’t lose suction power as you scrub with the brushes. Those that have only one motor are more prone to flinging dirt around, since the brush is robbing the suction system of energy.
The flexible “riser visor” attachment lets you clean vertical carpets and upholstery. It’s great for the kick plates on carpeted stairs, as well as plush car seats.
It’s extremely inexpensive. At less than $50, the Eureka won’t make much of a dent in your wallet.
It’s fairly light, at under 5 pounds.
The power cord wraps around the handle for convenient storage. The attachment hose also wraps around the housing when you’re not using it.
The attachment hose on the Eureka is something of a rarity for a handheld model. You can use this with the included crevice tool to clean between seats, and in nooks and crannies around the seat wells. We like it because it fits in tight spaces better than the motor unit on its own.
The dust compartment is bigger than on other handhelds. That’s a big plus in the car, since you’ll probably be cleaning up bigger clumps of hair, dried mud, or food crumbs. Plus, you don’t want to have to make trips inside to the trash can as you’re cleaning!
It’s very versatile, between the brush head and the attachments. Many previous buyers said they got the Eureka to clean their cars, but found themselves using it all around the house on little tasks and tough spot cleaning.
It’s covered by a 1-year warranty. While that’s not long, it’s impressive for such a cheap model.
While the 20-foot cord provides a long range, it does mean you’ll have to have a power outlet in the garage, or near your driveway. Otherwise, you’ll probably be relying on an extension cord.
Previous buyers said it’s very loud.
2. Black & Decker Pivot
This Black & Decker is one of the most popular cordless models available online.
It’s the only one of our recommendations with cyclonic suction, which gives it a big edge in the power department. We also like its smart, sleek design for reaching around tight spaces in cars and trucks.
The pivoting nozzle is incredibly maneuverable. Its thin design makes it ideal for getting in all the tricky cracks and crevices around your car. You can also clean inside seat pockets, and around doors.
The nozzle also cleverly houses the two attachments, a crevice tool, and dusting brush. The crevice tool slides out of the end of the nozzle, while the brush flips up into action mode.
There’s also a smart rubber flap on the end, which prevents debris from falling out of it. Having everything onboard is so much more convenient, so that’s a big plus for us!
It’s smartly designed around a bagless system. There are 3 levels of filtration, to make sure the motor stays free of any dust or debris. Cyclonic suction means dirt and dust particles are drawn to the collection bin, rather than to the filters. That means the filters stay cleaner longer, and provide more constant suction!
Cyclonic suction is also more powerful than the systems in our other two recommendations. It’s usually found only in full-sized models!
The lithium battery in the Black & Decker provides fade-free power. You’ll get a full-suction blast right up until the last second. The battery life is also longer than previous generations. It charges, quickly, too–in about 4 hours. Previous buyers said they got a good 15 minutes of constant cleaning on a charge.
The charging station doubles as a stand for the vacuum when it’s not in use. It keeps it standing up, for a smaller footprint in the closet or on the shelf.
It’s covered by a 2-year warranty, and a 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee.
There’s no roller brush. That means the Black & Decker won’t do as well as the Shark or Eureka on upholstered car seats or trim.
These Pivot models have pretty mixed reliability records. Some reviewers had issues with debris getting past the filters, or filters moving out of place. A few reviewers had motor trouble, and said the motors quit on them in the first year. However, all the reviewers who made warranty claims said the company shipped new vacuums to them.
3. Shark Rocket
The Shark Rocket is a corded handheld like the Eureka.
It’s more expensive, but adds a longer attachment hose and more maneuverable brush head to tackle tight spots in the car and around the house.
Its added range and slimmer design mean it’s perfect for cleaning under car seats and in between cushions.
The Rocket comes with many of the same attachments as the Eureka, including a crevice tool, extension hose, and a motorized brush head. The brush head has rollers to help pull pet fur, hair, and ground-in dirt from the upholstery on your car seats.
The Rocket also includes a dusting brush, which you don’t get with the Eureka. It’s better suited to cleaning around the dashboard and on more delicate parts where you don’t want to use the motorized brush head or bare hose.
Like the other two models, the filters on the Rocket are washable and reusable.
The dust compartment empties more conveniently than the Eureka’s. Instead of taking it apart and emptying it by hand, which can get messy, you just hold the Rocket over the trash and press a button.
It’s also lighter than the Eureka, weighing less than 4 pounds in all.
The Rocket also stands out because it’s covered by a full 5-year warranty. That’s way beyond the warranty periods for other handhelds.
It’s versatile enough to use in pet enclosures, on furniture, and other tricky spots around the house.
It’s covered by a 5-year warranty.
The power cord isn’t as long as the Eureka’s. It’s only 15 feet, as opposed to 20. You’ll probably want to have an extension cord on hand, unless you park quite close to an outlet.
The brush head doesn’t use a dedicated motor. We couldn’t find any complaints from previous buyers saying the Shark suffered from power problems because of this, but a separate dedicated motor is definitely an advantage for the cheaper Eureka.
If you want a cheap vacuum that can clean your car and your house as well, check out this other Shark Rocket:
This Shark is a flexible stick vacuum hybrid which breaks down into a handheld for cleaning your car, and can be used as a versatile upright for cleaning inside.
You can use it with a powered carpet brush, as well as with the dedicated hard floors attachment.
We love the combo attachment for hardwoods especially, since it combines a suction head with a wide, plush microfiber pad for trapping microscopic debris and allergens.
It also includes a wide range of dusting brushes and crevice tools that help you get into smaller nooks and crannies in your dashboard and vents that other models can’t reach.
Which Car Vacuum is Perfect for You?
If you’re on a tight budget, the Eureka is your best bet for a very low-cost car vacuum.
It has most of the same features as the higher-priced Shark, for about half the overall investment. It has the most power devoted to the brush head of the three choices as well, although it doesn’t have quite the suction power of the Shark or Black and Decker.
If you don’t have easy access to a power outlet near your car, or are looking for the ultimate maneuverability that you get from a cordless handheld model, then the Black & Decker is our top recommendation for you.
It has more suction power than other cordless models, thanks to cyclonic suction. Its special nozzle also makes it more maneuverable between seats, and around cracks in the car–without needing to get out another attachment.
The Black & Decker probably isn’t the top choice for people who have fabric car seats, since it doesn’t have roller brushes. You’ll want to look at the Eureka or the Shark if you have upholstery in your car.
The Shark gives you a bit more power and a slightly more ergonomic setup than the Eureka. It also maneuvers a bit better around the car, since it has a more streamlined design.
It’s easier to empty cleanly, and has more attachments. It’s not a world away from the Eureka, but it has lots of conveniences that make it easier to use and more effective overall.
While it doesn’t have the cyclonic suction of the Black & Decker, it has a corded design which extends its cleaning time indefinitely. Since it also has the longest warranty of the 3, we’re we are confident in making this our top quality recommendation.
How to Shop for a Cheap Car Vacuum
Look for big power in a small package:
You need a vacuum with strong suction power, for vacuuming dirt and debris out from between car cushions, as well as dust from your air vents.
Your car vacuum also needs to be light, compact, and maneuverable enough to negotiate all the tight spots and corners of your car. The perfect car vacuum strikes a balance between powerful and maneuverable.
Think about your budget:
A good car vacuum shouldn’t cost you more than $100.
While a vacuum up around the $75-$100 mark might seem like a lot to spend for something you’ll only use in the car, we think it’s smart to invest in a car vacuum that you’ll also find helpful to use around the house. The convenience of a car vacuum is ideal for quick pickups around the house.
Even if you don’t want to spend more on a carpet brush for your car, think about how useful a motorized brush head can be around your house.
For instance, many upright and canister vacuums have upholstery or turbo brushes, but nearly all of them are air powered at best. A powered handheld brush can get the job done better and faster on your fabric furniture and carpeted stairs.
These attachments are also great for helping you to keep pet enclosures clean.
So, finding a car vacuum that’s versatile enough to use around the house is a great way to make it a more cost-effective purchase in the long run.
Will this be your primary or secondary vacuum?
We’ve catered our recommendations to people who are looking for a secondary vacuum, mostly for vacuuming their car.
However, we have included the Shark Rocket for people who are looking to vacuum inside their home, as well. It can handle full floors and carpets as well as your tight spaces.
If you’re looking for a secondary vacuum, you’ll want to think about all the weak points of your primary vacuum. For instance, if your main vacuum is hard to use on upholstery, you’ll want to look for upholstery tools on your secondary vacuum. This is another way to help get your money’s worth.
Think about the surfaces in your car:
If you have fabric seats, or plush seat covers, you’ll want a vacuum with a powered brush head. These are essential for getting pet fur, lint, and other pesky stuff off of fabrics. If you’re stuck using a manual attachment, you could be in for quite a bit of elbow grease.
If you have leather seats, you probably don’t want a brush head, at least not one that’s on all the time. Brushes can damage the leatherwork and leave marks.
We strongly suggest a vacuum with a wide, smooth suction head (like the Black & Decker) for cars with leather seats.
However, even with leather seats, chances are the seat wells and floors of your car are fabric. A powered brush head can really help with these areas, especially if you have pets that travel with you. That’s something to keep in mind as you compare vacuums.
Corded vs. Cordless:
Clearly, a cordless vacuum offers the ultimate maneuverability. Cordless models are ideal for people who don’t park near power outlets, and don’t have extension cords hanging around.
However, the tradeoff is that cordless models won’t last more than 15 minutes or so.
If you’re not keeping a good handle on your car’s cleanliness (and, let’s face it, not many of us are) you’ll probably need more than 15 minutes to vacuum all the upholstery, flooring, nooks, crannies, and vents in your car. That’s where corded models come in handy.
If you’re the sort of person who will be cleaning little bits more often, we recommend a cordless model. If you’re more interested in doing a big top-to-bottom clean once in awhile, a corded model will fit your lifestyle better.