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How to Cool Down Your Car During The Summer Heat

Car parked in the hot sun.

In certain parts of the country, summer can be the most brutal season of the year. The scorching temperatures, high humidity and blinding sun make it difficult to keep your car cool. Many people have to park their cars outside in the hot sun, so leaving work at the end of the day means singed fingers and profuse sweating until the interior cools down. The following tips and tricks will explore how to cool down your car during those hot summer months.

Car Covers and Leaving the Window CrackedCar temperature

A car cover is one of the best ways to lessen the severity of heat inside your car while it sits out all day. Not just any car cover will do, though. If you want to protect your paint and avoid scratches when the winds pick up, go with an indoor cover rather than an outdoor one. Indoor covers can still be used outside; the difference only lies in the materials. Indoor covers have a softer inside and will lessen the chance of scratches; however, the exterior of your car needs to be clean to use one. Covering a dirty car is never recommended. Just keep an eye on the weather as an indoor car cover typically won’t be waterproof.

Leaving the window cracked may seem like an obvious tip, but it is still important to remember in order to prevent hot air from being trapped in your vehicle all day. Keeping the window open even a small amount will allow for the interior to breathe, and can help reduce the temperature upon reentering the vehicle. If you are worried about leaving your windows cracked and getting caught in a popup rainstorm, you can install window visors. Window visors allow you to crack the window slightly while keeping out the rain, while allowing air to circulate.

Fight Back The Sun

Those windshield solar shades aren’t just for fancy cars or personal expression, they actually work. Your dashboard turns into a massive heat sponge in the sun. A reflective windshield shade block solar rays from reaching your interior, drastically reducing interior surface temperatures. It also protects your dashboard from sun damage and helps keep your steering wheel from scorching your hands. If you don’t have a windshield solar shade a towel will work in a pinch, just drape it across the dashboard and steering wheel.

If you don’t have seat covers, you can temporarily toss a beach towel or sheet overs your seats to keep them from burning your skin. Just make sure to remove the towel or sheet before you drive off as it won’t be secured like a proper seat cover.

The ultimate step in fighting back the sun is window tint. Tinted windows stop searing sunlight at the glass. You can DIY at home or find a local shop. Make sure to check with local laws about which tint types and amounts are allowed. While ultra dark tint may look cool, it may also hamper night time vision while also being illegal in your area.

Parking Under Tress

Parking your car in a shady spot is one of the easiest ways to keep the temperature in your car cool throughout the day. Parking under a tree is an easy and cost-effective way to prevent your car from rising to scorching temperatures; just make sure the tree you’re parking under isn’t going to drop sap all over the paint! Having to clay and wax the paint to remove all the sappy contaminants will surely cost you more time and effort later. If you park in the same parking lot at the same time (like going to work or school) observe where the shady spots are at the end of the day for best results. A shady spot in the morning may be in full direct sun by quitting time.

Solar-Powered Fan

Using a solar-powered fan is a less costly and time-consuming way to keep the inside of your car cool than purchasing and using a car cover. There are a number of choices out there, but most operate the same way: energy from the sun powers the fan, and it spits out hot air while bringing in fresh air all day long. This method requires leaving a window cracked, so watch the weather or invest in a set of the previously mentioned window visors.

EV Advantage

If you have an electric vehicle you may be able to prepare your vehicle for departure, including cooling down the interior. This is best done when still hooked up to the charger, but if you have battery range to spare then go ahead. Since the entire AC system is electrically powered on an EV, the AC compressor can be operated without “starting” the car. This method words best at home where you can stay connected to grid power to do most of the heavy electrical lifting without monopolizing scarce public charging stations.

These are just a few helpful tips on how to cool down your car during hot summer months. Ultimately, a mix of all five will be your best bet, and will help you to make those uncomfortably hot commutes a thing of the past.

Check out all the heating & cooling parts available on NAPAOnline or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on keeping your car cool, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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