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How to Keep Your Car Cool in Summer

A thermometer with a high temperature reading.

Knowing how to keep your car cool in summer weather can make any trip you plan during this season more enjoyable. Whether you’re on a cross-country road trip or the daily runaround, it’s no fun to drive if you’re too hot. Air conditioning helps, but what else can you do to keep yourself comfortable and your car in working order? Here’s how to keep your car cool this summer.

Keep It Cool While You’re GoneTemperature Gauge

The hotter your car is when you turn on the air conditioning, the longer it will take to cool off, so it’s important to keep your vehicle as cool as possible when it’s parked. That way, when you do return, the interior is already cooler, so your air conditioning can get the air to your desired temperature more quickly.

Should You Crack the Windows?

This may help in some cases but won’t make a huge difference. To really cool off the car, the windows would have to be nearly all the way down, and that’s not exactly a good idea if you’re concerned about the safety of your vehicle or a passing storm.

It is, however, a great idea to put down the windows the moment you get inside and turn on the air conditioning. The air outside your car is cooler than the air inside your car, so let that hot air out for a few minutes until the temperatures equalize, and then put the windows back up so the AC can finish the job.

Use a Sunshade

You can help your car stay cooler when it’s parked with a sunshade. Anytime you plan on leaving your car for more than a few minutes, pop one up.

While these are typically used on the inside of the front windshield, you can also put one inside the rear window for even more protection. There are also side window shades available that can be pulled up by passengers anytime the sun gets too hot. Simple sunshades can reduce the temperature inside your car by 10-15 degrees.

Seek Out a Shady Spot

Everyone looks for a nice shady spot when they sit down for a picnic. Try to do the same when you’re looking for a place to park. Simply staying out of the sun can reduce the temperature in your car by 10-20 degrees.

Cover the Steering Wheel and Dashboard

Especially if you have a dark interior, the dashboard and steering wheel will absorb heat that radiates throughout your car interior. You don’t have to get fancy here — draping a towel over these components can reduce their exposure to heat and help lower the temperature in your parked car.

Don’t Leave Your Stuff in a Hot Car

It’s obvious that you don’t want to leave food sitting in a hot car, but what about other items? Direct sun and high temperatures can wreak havoc on your possessions, including electronics, so try not to leave them in the car when it’s hot.

The sun and heat can also be rough on the interior, so if you’re worried about the potential impact on your upholstery, toss a towel or blanket over your seats when the vehicle is not in use for extra protection.

Make things easier for your air conditioning and yourself by adhering to the above tips on how to keep your car cool in summer weather.

Check out all the products for keeping your car cool this summer available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about how to keep your car cool, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy Flickr.


Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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