Tips for Keeping Your Car Cool in Summer
Is there anything worse than a hot, stuffy car in the summer? You may enjoy the great weather during the summer months, but the heat and sun can make driving uncomfortable. Your car may feel like an oven when you get in and take what feels like an eternity to cool down to a pleasant temperature.
Fortunately, if you are wondering how to keep your car cool, there are plenty of simple things you can do. From maximizing your air conditioning to taking advantage of a shady spot when parking, the following tips can help you maintain a cooler vehicle on those hot and humid summer days.
1. Limit the Amount of Sunlight Coming Through Your Windows
Car windows can act like a greenhouse, holding in heat and sunlight, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Even if it is only in the 60s outside, the direct sunlight through the windows can cause the interior temperature to increase to 110 degrees.
Knowing this, there are a few ways to help keep your car cool by reducing the amount of heat entering through your windows:
- Sun shades:Sun shades are a great investment, says Consumer Reports, because they block the direct rays coming into your vehicle. This keeps the temperature slightly lower, which can help your car cool down more quickly once the vehicle is started.
- Tinted windows:A more expensive, yet constant, way to block the sun, says com, is with window tinting. But before you take your car in to have the windows darkened, make sure you know your state’s laws, as some have restrictions on how much or which windows you can tint.
- Shaded parking:If you don’t have tinted windows or a sun shade, a helpful alternative may simply be parking in the shade.
- Cracked windows:Because windows hold in warm air, leaving them open slightly while parked will create slight airflow. If your vehicle has a sunroof, Cars.com says you can also crack that or use the vent feature if it’s not raining. For both windows and sunroofs, only leave them open slightly (less than an inch) to minimize the possibility of theft.
2. Prevent Your Seats From Getting Too Hot
Scorching seats can cause discomfort or even burns. For this reason, you might consider purchasing a vehicle with cloth seats instead of leather. If it’s in your budget, you might also look into buying a vehicle with air-conditioned or ventilated seats, these typically work by utilizing a porous mesh on the car seat so air can flow through it. Fans inside the seat produce air circulation, which is diffused to spread the cooling effect throughout the seat and through the mesh, cooling the seat’s surface. For those who already have leather but need a way to keep it cooler, Cars.com suggests purchasing cooling gel covers or pads. Simply covering leather seats with towels can provide a bit of insulation between you and the hot seat.
3. Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Air Conditioning
There may be some techniques that can help you reduce the time it takes for your car’s interior to reach a comfortable temperature. Consumer Reports says that air conditioning works best when your car is moving, so once you’re on your way, turn the air on full blast and open all of your windows until the air inside is cool. This helps to improve cooling efficiency as the hot air (which rises) will be pushed out of the windows as the cool air comes out of the vents. When cold air starts coming from the vents, close the front windows and leave the rear windows open slightly for another 10 to 20 seconds. Once you’ve achieved your desired temperature, Cars.com says you should use the car’s air recirculating feature along with the air conditioning to maintain the coldest air.
If your vehicle’s air conditioning system isn’t functioning properly, it can affect how quickly your car’s interior reaches a comfortable temperature, if at all. Firestone Complete Auto Care suggests that there may not be a regular interval at which your air conditioning system should be professionally checked, but rather, once the air coming out of the vents doesn’t feel as cold as you remember, it’s time to get it inspected. If the air coming out doesn’t feel cold, the Environmental Protection Agency says you may need your local auto mechanic to top off the refrigerant to recharge your system.
While you can’t change the weather, you can prepare your car to handle a sizzling summer. Remember these tips this summer and enjoy a cooler car.
Originally published July 2015.