5 Steps To Quickly Cool Down Your Sun Baked Hot Car

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So you’re finally done with your long day and you’re getting ready to head home. There’s not much on your mind other than relaxing and enjoying the rest of your day except maybe that you are hoping to miss the evening rush hour. You get to your car, and find an oven already preheated and ready to bake you the entire way home. 

Being in Florida, we know just how hot our vehicles can get if they are left in the scorching sun all day. Don’t even think about sitting on your seats if you have any sort of dark leather and just touching the steering wheel can cause first degree burns to your hands. Oh and watch out for the searing metal of your seat belt! Sitting in a hot car and hoping for it to cool off quickly sucks, especially after a long day.

 Luckily there are ways that you can get the hot air out of your car fast and replace it with less stagnant outside air from your air conditioning and using your open windows. 

5 Steps To Quickly Cool Down A Hot Car

  1. If possible crack open your windows 30 minutes before you leave
  2. Air the car out using windows and forced airflow 
  3. Turn your air conditioning on max, using the fresh air function
  4. Drive with the windows open for a mile or two
  5. Close up the car, switch to recirculate and enjoy the cold air

Cracking The Windows 30 Minutes Prior To Using The Car

If you park your car in an area throughout the day that is safe to do so, leave a few of your windows cracked while you work or run errands to prevent the air in your car from being trapped and becoming super heated. Of course, leaving the car open can be an invite for a whole mess of issues from bugs to burglars and don’t forget water damage if it happens to rain and you don’t get the vehicle closed in time. 

A better solution, if your schedule permits, is to go out to your car 30 minutes before you plan on getting into it and cracking the windows. 

Quickly Cool Down The Car By Forcing Hot Air Out

The most effective way to cool down your car quickly is to force the air that is in your car, out, replacing it with fresh outside air that hasn’t been trapped inside your car. You can do this quite simply, though you may feel a bit ridiculous in practice. 

Roll down the two windows on the right side of your vehicle, then open the driver side door. Now you’ll use pressure to force the hot air out. As if it were a fan, open and close the driver side door with a bit of enthusiasm to create a suction pulling air out the right side of the car. Repeat as needed, but for a minimum of 5 door open and closings. 

Why this works: while yes the air outside likely isn’t a refreshing temperature, it is far better than the air that has been trapped inside your car all day. When your car is sealed shut, the cab becomes a sort of oven continuously heating the air and baking the plastics within the vehicle. Not only is that air filled with nasty chemicals released from the hot rubber and plastic, it is also much hotter than the outside air temperature. Best to get that air out so you aren’t marinating in it when you get into the car. 

Turn The A/C On Max Using The Fresh Air Setting

So this one is a big DUH and of course you know to turn your air conditioning on high to cool off the car effectively. Did you know that the air conditioning system in your car works best when the car is moving? Yep. Similarly to how your car cools off engine coolant in a radiator, the air conditioning system uses air flow from your moving vehicle to cool off the refrigerant that your car compresses and condenses to produce cold air. 

Your air conditioning system pressurizes the refrigerant which heats it up. We won’t get into the full anatomy of the air conditioning system in this post, but essentially the air conditioner heats and cools the refrigerant which when exposed to the air going into the cab of your car, cools the air. When the refrigerant is hot, it needs to be cooled quickly in order to be recycled and put back to use, your moving car uses the airflow combined with a cooling fan to remove the heat from the refrigerant. 

Another helpful tidbit is to have your car pull fresh air from outside when you first turn on the A/C. As we’ve discussed, the interior of your car will still be hot. Pulling fresh air from outside is a good way to reduce the plastic fumigation you are inhaling as well as to cool your car off more quickly. 

Drive With The Windows Open Briefly

Your car will still be really hot at this time, you’ve effectively forced out the hot air that was baking in your car, but unfortunately all of the seats, carpeting, steering wheel, etc will still be really hot from sitting inside your vehicle all day. Use the airflow of your moving car to remove that heat as quickly as possible for the first few miles of your drive. Of course you should still be using your air conditioning at this time as well. 

Close The Car Up And Enjoy Your Air Conditioning

Once you’ve put a mile or two behind you, it’s usually a good time to roll up the windows and let the max air conditioning do its work. As we’ve already discussed, your car’s air conditioning is the most effective when your car is moving as it uses airflow to cool off the refrigerant within the air conditioning system helping to produce cold air. 

Once you reach a comfortable internal temperature within your car, feel free to reduce the air to a temperature of your preference. At this time it is best to switch the setting of your car back to the recirculate function. This means your car will pull air already within your car and cool it again. This is a great way to cool your car down even more as the air inside your car will already be cooler than the air outside. 

Preventing Your Car From Getting Overly Hot 

The heat and direct sun can be really damaging to your vehicle. If you’ve ever heard of sunbleaching you can understand the effects of a car being exposed to full sun with no protection day in and day out. Sun bleaching is the phenomena of the sun’s rays damaging materials and stripping them of their color. Similarly to long term sun damage in human skin. 

The heat and specifically your car being exposed to direct sun with no protection can cause more damage than you might think. Car paint will age prematurely in cars that are not garage kept or covered properly. Leathers and plastics in the interior of cars can crack, decolor and release fumes that can be hazardous for humans and animals to inhale when left in the direct sun. For these reasons and more it is important to protect your car wherever you can. 

There are some simple steps that you can take as a car owner to prevent your vehicle from getting super hot to begin with and to keep the damaging rays of our sun off of your car as much as possible. 

Use A Sunshade

Using a sunshade is a great way to keep extra heat out of your vehicle. It isn’t going to stop your car from getting hot all together but can make a 10-25 degree difference. The windows of your vehicle, specifically the windshield let a ton of light in. And light is really just heat. Placing a sunshade in your windshield is a fantastic way to keep your car cooler. Especially if you are just running a quick errand. 

There are tons of varieties of sunshades available for purchase. You can find shades that have suction cups, shades that utilize the visors of your driver and passenger side of the car to hold them up, sunshades that collapse until they are teenie tiny etc. Find one that works for you, your car and your needs at places where auto parts are sold or online. 

Cover Your Seats

People cover their seats to prevent them from absorbing as much heat. What this does in effect is makes it faster for the car to cool off when you do begin the processes listed above. You can find car seat covers specifically for the purpose of blocking heat at auto retailers or online. 

Park In The Shade

This is another answer that Captain Obvious could have put together for you. It is significantly cooler outside of the direct sun. If you can acquire a covered parking space for work, or park your vehicle under a nice shady tree, you will see a significant drop in temperature when you go to get into the vehicle when your day is over and you’re heading home 

Crack Your Windows

If you are able to leave the windows in your vehicle cracked throughout the day, this can be a great way to keep your car from turning into an oven. When your car is sealed, it essentially becomes a giant oven where the air inside get’s hotter and hotter as the car is exposed to sun. The air inside a sealed car will get much hotter than the outside temperatures as there is no airflow taking place. 

Be careful when making the decision to crack your windows, you can be inviting pests, and unwanted people to take a look inside your car. A good solution to this in limiting the risk is to only crack your windows if you are in a low crime area. You can also mitigate the risk by cracking the windows 30 minutes before you are about to leave. Be sure to check the forecast any time you plan on leaving windows in your car open or cracked. Even just a  little rain getting into your car can cause mildew and other damages.  

Protecting Your Car From Summer Heat

  1. Make sure your tire pressure is correct
  2. Top off fluids
  3. Have your air conditioning checked or check it yourself
  4. Inspect the belts
  5. Replace your windshield wipers
  6. Wash and wax your car

Tire Pressure

As the outside temperature heats and cools throughout the year between the changing seasons, your tire pressure will change as well. A quick science lesson will tell us that gas expands as it heats and takes up far less physical space as it shrinks in colder temperatures. Because your tires are a closed environment and the air within them is trapped, this means that your tire pressure will increase and decrease as the temperature also fluctuates. 

When it comes to your tires and the air within them, it is so important to make sure you are driving with the appropriate tire pressure. You can protect the rubber of your tires and ensure even tread wear by making sure they are properly inflated. Results of poorly inflated tires include uneven wear caused by excess friction, tire cupping and tread separation and even blowouts. 

What tire pressure is right for you?

Most cars function best with a tire pressure somewhere between 30 and 35 PSI.  You can find information regarding what is recommended for your car by checking out your car’s user manual. 

Top Off Fluids

This is especially important for your engine coolant which will be put to an even greater test than it is in the winter months. Engine coolant is exposed to the extreme heat of your engine removing that heat as it cycles through your car’s engine block. If the engine coolant is old or there isn’t enough of it, your car will overheat which can cause major (expensive) issues. 

In the summer months the outside air will do little to help the engine coolant do its job so it is imperative the cooling system in your car is in peak condition going into the hot season. You can check your coolant yourself or take your car to a mechanic to have the radiator and coolant examined by a professional. 

Have Your Air Conditioning Checked Or Do It Yourself

It isn’t too challenging to check your air conditioning system yourself in terms of what temperatures the system is putting out. Simply take a meat thermometer and place it into one of the vents inside the cab of your car. Start the car and turn the air conditioning on full blast. A properly charged and functioning air conditioning unit will blow temperatures as cold as 32 degrees fahrenheit!

If your A/C isn’t blowing as cold as you would like, there could be a number of issues causing this effect. The easiest to diagnose and repair is that your car is low on refrigerant and simply needs a recharge. If you aren’t getting cold air at all, you may have a leak, or a malfunctioning component from hoses to compressors. If you aren’t an expert and you suspect there is an issue with your system, have the car into the mechanic for an A/C diagnosis and check up. 

Check Your Belts and Hoses

In the summer months, the rubber components of your car are more susceptible to cracking and breaking. This is because heat has a tendency to dry out rubber. Get under the hood and check out the condition of the rubber parts of your vehicle including all hoses and belts. If you deem it necessary, ask a mechanic to do a health diagnosis of your vehicle. Under a general inspection they will evaluate which parts of your car look good and which you will need to replace or maintain in the near future. 

Replace Windshield Wipers

We all know that the summer months mean afternoon showers. Especially down here in Tampa Bay where Protect My Car is located. Tampa is the lightning capital of North America and boy do we get a ton of rain down here! 

After the winter, it is a good practice to replace your wiper blades as they tend to get a bit gunked up and the rubber becomes less effective at creating a seal and moving water. The winter means freezing water which can be damaging to the rubber blades of the car especially if you live somewhere that snow and hail happen often. Windshield wipers should be replaced every 6 months anyways and early spring and early fall are a great time to perform this maintenance item preparing your car for the extreme weather months. 

Wash And Wax Your Car

Washing your car is a great practice because it prevents micro scratches in your paint. It is also good to remove any tree sap, bugs or animal feces (bird poop) that may have accumulated since your last wash and wax. These three contaminants can  be acidic which is damaging for your car’s paint. Remove them at your earliest convenience to keep your car in tip top shape. 

Waxing your car is another practice that is great for your vehicle. Applying a wax coating to your car is like swiping sunscreen on our skin. It is protective, not just from road debris and the three contaminants we just discussed, but also from the powerful summer sun rays. Depending on what wax you use, wax should be removed and reapplied every 2-6 weeks. 

In closing, there are tons of ways to cool off your car after it has been baking in the hot summer sun. If you feel inclined, protect your car from getting as hot using our tips on keeping the car as cool as possible in the summer. 

Protect My Car provides consumers with extended auto warranty plans that have real coverage for vehicles that are no longer covered by their manufacturer’s warranty. Whether your vehicle was purchased new or used, if your manufacturer’s warranty is about to expire, or has already expired, an extended auto warranty plan can save you thousands of dollars in repair bills. Since the majority of vehicle repairs happen 3-5 years after the original purchase date, which many times is outside of the manufacturer’s warranty coverage period, leaving you responsible for paying the full repair bill. However, when you purchase a policy from Protect My Car, you could pay as little as $100.00 for your major repairs. That’s a lot of savings!

Resources:

https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/driving-advice/the-quickest-way-to-cool-your-car-down/
https://www.carfax.ca/resource-centre/articles/how-to-protect-your-car-from-the-summer-heat
https://www.thrillist.com/cars/nation/how-to-cool-off-a-hot-car-quickly
https://lifehacker.com/cool-down-a-scorching-car-as-quickly-as-possible-5313443
https://www.reviewed.com/home-outdoors/features/how-to-keep-the-inside-of-your-parked-car-cool

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