Not all cars, even modern ones, come with air conditioning as standard and while this is a mild inconvenience for most, for people living in all-year-round hot areas such as Southern California, a hot car can become a severe annoyance. As well as the possible engine trouble that can come with the hot sun beating down on your car, the interior can become extremely hot, up to 172o if the conditions are right.
Not only is a hot car uncomfortable, with sticky seats and warm air on your face, but it can be dangerous for young children and animals who are susceptible to shifting temperatures, which is why you should never leave either of these unsupervised in a vehicle.
For those lucky enough to have A/C installed, cooler driving is a breeze, but for others, getting the temperature down can be tricky but not impossible. Some of the best techniques are:
- Window ventilation
- Plug-in fan
- Stick to shade
- Wet cloth
Simply opening a window isn’t going to cut it and window ventilation needs to be done properly for maximum benefit while installing a small electric fan will provide a welcome reprieve. Proactively keeping your car out of the sun and in the shade can go a long way in keeping it cool while placing a wet cloth over the vents and blowing air through can be a good temporary measure.
Should you require an A/C installation or you need your air filters cleaned, any good auto body shop mechanic will be able to take care of these fixes.
You might be forgiven for thinking that just opening the windows will cool down your car and to some extent, it will. However, there is a technique to doing it right that can use air pressure while driving to rapidly cool and stabilize the temperature of your vehicle.
To work properly you need to open both the driver’s side and the passenger side windows a few inches. This ensures that air circulates through the car without losing aerodynamic efficiency, therefore saving your fuel. Opening just one side won’t work as there is no pressure and may actually just blow warm air around. It goes without saying that this technique isn’t best used when driving fast.
Plug-in 12v Fan
Thanks to USB and electrical ports, there are all kinds of gadgets that can be plugged into your car these days. One of these is a simple and cheap 12v electric fan that can be plugged into your vehicle’s electrical system and then placed on the dash to cool you down while using very little electricity unless left on, in which case it could drain the battery.
The small stature and little power of these devices mean that they aren’t going to be blowing a baltic breeze all over the car, but they should at least cool your face for some relief while driving on a particularly hot day, although they might not do such a great job for any backseat passengers.
Stick to the Cool Shade
One of the contributing factors to a hot car is when you park it in direct sunlight so that the temperature builds and builds throughout the day when heat passes through the tough car windows and then gets trapped. But simply parking in the shade ensures that a significantly less amount of heat is able to penetrate your car.
Given that the sun moves, unless you are parked underneath a tree canopy, you should keep an eye out and move your car as and when necessary so as to avoid the sun as much as possible therefore keeping heat levels to a minimum.
A little-known trick is to use your car’s ventilation system in a similar fashion to how A/C actually works although nowhere near as complicated. By soaking a cloth in cold water and then placing it over your car’s vents, you can use either hot or cold air that blows through it to condense the moisture particles in the air which results in a cooling effect.
A good tip is to freeze several washcloths at home so you can switch between them when the condensation effect is depleted but be sure not to leave them in your car as mildew and mold can form on them, resulting in nasty infections or at the very least, a smelly car.