Keep your car cool in the heat – 7 important tips

The unfortunate fact about owning a car is that they do not go well with hot weather. Heat wave or not, even a few minutes of hot, sunny weather can cause the temperature inside your car to rise, and before you know it, your car will be like an oven.

This is a problem that we all have had to deal with at one point or another, especially if you live in a hot climate. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to quickly cool down your car, and in some cases stop it from heating up altogether.

Here are 7 top tips to keep your car cool in the heat.

Looking for other ways to beat the heat? Be sure to check out our selection of the best smart air conditioners, 7 essential tips on how to stay cool in the heat, how to cool the room in the heat and what to look for when buying an air conditioner.

Use windshield covers

Reflective windshield cover in silver car

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The easiest way to keep your car cool is to prevent it from overheating in the first place. This is where windshield coatings come into play. Just like you cover the windows of your house with aluminum foil, these reflective sheets reflect light (and heat) so your car doesn’t get too hot.

These cases are priced by size, but can be purchased for less than $20 on Amazon. (will open in a new tab). If you’re worried about getting cheap coverage for your car, you can purchase screens made specifically for specific car models.

If you have the money, you can also protect yourself from excess light by tinting your windows. Or buy removable window shades (will open in a new tab). You can usually buy them in pairs and for less than $20.

door fan

Once the car has warmed up, getting rid of that hot air is difficult, even with air conditioning. Luckily, you can speed up the cooling process by blowing the hot air out of your car door. And it’s pretty easy to do.

Open a window on one side of the car and make sure the door is closed. Then, on the opposite side, open the door and make sure the window is closed. Then you keep opening and closing the car door to push the hot air out of the opposite window.

It looks and sounds odd, but you’re effectively replacing hot indoor air with (comparatively) cool outside air.

Air conditioning right

active air conditioning wind in the car

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Air conditioning is great, but you can do more than just flip a switch to turn it on. The way your air conditioner is set up can affect how quickly your car cools. So, if you want to do cool stuff as quickly and efficiently as possible, there are a few things you can do.

The most obvious is to make sure the A/C is on its coldest setting and then set the climate control to suck in outside air rather than recirculate the air already in the car. You then open the windows slightly and adjust the air conditioner so that it comes out of the lowest vents. Since cold air is heavier than hot air, it will ensure that hot air is pushed up and out of the window.

As soon as the air exiting the vents becomes colder than outside, close the windows and switch to air recirculation. Then the air conditioner will do its job and keep you cool and cool.

Use ice packs

ice packs and water bottle on gray surface

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If your air conditioner is broken or your car has never had one, then your options are limited. But you can take one principle from keeping your room cool and apply it to your car. All you need is ice packs or a bottle of frozen water.

Turn on your car’s fan, switch back to outside air, and place these ice packs in front of the vents. The air outside will already be a little cooler, and blowing on the ice pack will cool it down even more. Not as much as a bona fide air conditioner, but it’s definitely a better option than nothing.

Wipe hot surfaces

cleaning the car dashboard with a microfiber cloth and a spray bottle

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If you don’t have air conditioning or ice packs, then some things in your car will be very hot. This includes things like the steering wheel, shifter and even the seats. Driving with the windows open can cause a slight breeze, but you’ll need to get to that point first. What is your best solution? Wipe hot surfaces with a damp cloth.

This method will be only slightly effective and will not actively cool the interior of your car, but it will prevent your hands from getting burned. Keep a spray bottle and washcloth in a jar so you can do this when you’re out and about. However, in a pinch, you can get by with wet wipes.

Precondition your car

car air conditioner controller

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If you own one of the best electric vehicles, then there’s a good chance it has the ability to pre-condition the car’s air. Simply put, this feature allows you to set a regular departure time so that you can turn on the climate control in the car and make sure the cabin is at a comfortable temperature.

It’s great if you know when you’ll be driving and can plan ahead. Simply set it up on the car’s infotainment display or with the companion smartphone app.

If your electric vehicle does not have dedicated pre-conditioning, it may still have the ability to remotely set the interior temperature through the official app. This means you can return to your car and find it nice and cool no matter what the temperature is outside.

You just need to be aware that this drains the battery, which in turn affects range. While climate control doesn’t usually use that much energy, it’s worth keeping in mind.

park inside

underground parking full of cars

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Parking your car indoors is a great way to keep your car warm in hot weather. It’s not always possible, but keeping the engine out of the sun is the best way to keep its interior nice and cool.

If you have a garage, make sure you park in one, and if you are away from the world, try to park in indoor or underground parking lots where possible. At least your air conditioner will have less work to do when you get back inside.

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