Knowing how to cool off a hot car that has been sitting in the heat and sun can save you the discomfort of having to sit in your vehicle's hot interior while driving to your destination. By taking a few precautions beforehand, you can make sure the car is cool and comfortable. And, there are also a few tried and true methods you can use to cool your vehicle down.

Method 1 of 3: Use a sunshade

Material Needed

  • Car sunshade

Blocking the warming rays of the sun is one way to keep your vehicle interior cool. While the shade can only keep out the sun coming in through the front window, it should provide enough relief from the sun's rays to make it easier to cool the interior down. Plus, a car sun shade has the benefit of keeping the sun off of the steering wheel and gear shifter knob so that they remain cool to the touch.

Step 1: Unfold the sunshade. Unfold the sunshade in the vehicle. This makes it easier to put it into place.

Step 2: Place the sunshade. Slide the bottom of the sunshade into the bottom of the dash, aiming for where the dashboard and window meet. Before proceeding further, make sure the sunshade is all the way against the windshield and resting firmly against where the windshield meets the dash.

Step 3: Secure the top of the sunshade. Raise the sunshade until it meets the upper edge of the windshield. The sunshade should have a cutout to allow it to fit around the rearview mirror.

Step 4: Firmly adjust sun visors. Pull the sun visors down on both sides and press them toward the front windshield and the sunshade. The sun visors should help keep the sunshade in place. If your sunshade has suction cups, then press them firmly against the glass of the windshield to engage them.

Step 5: Remove the sunshade. Remove the sunshade by reversing the steps you took to install it. This entails putting the sun visors back in the up condition, pulling the sun shade down from the top, and then pulling it out and away from the bottom of the window. Finish by folding the sunshade and securing it with the elastic loop or Velcro fastener before stowing it.

Method 2 of 3: Use air circulation

By using the environmental controls in your car, you can quickly and easily cool your vehicle down. This method requires you to use the vehicle windows and air conditioning system to quickly remove the hot air and replace it with cooler air.

Step 1: Open all the windows. Upon first starting your car, roll down all of the windows in your vehicle. If you have a sunroof or moonroof, you should open it as well, as this facilitates the pushing out of the hot air.

Step 2: Turn on your AC. If available, turn your air conditioner on the fresh air instead of the recirculation mode. This allows you to get fresher, cooler air into the vehicle instead of recirculating the same hot air.

Step 3: Set AC on high. Turn the thermostat to the coldest setting and all the way up. While this might not seem to have an effect at first, you should start feeling the air cooling off within the vehicle interior pretty quickly.

Step 4: Drive with open windows. Drive with the windows down for a few minutes. The force of the wind through the windows should help force the hot air out of the vehicle.

Step 5: Recirculate the cool air. As the air cools, turn on the air controls to recirculate the cooler air. The air, which is now cooler than that on the outside of the vehicle is easier to cool at this point. You can now also roll up your vehicle's windows and adjust the thermostat settings to your desired temperature.

Method 3 of 3: Leave the windows rolled down slightly

Materials Needed

  • Clean rag
  • Container of water

This method requires you to leave the windows in your vehicle rolled down slightly. Going on the principle that heat rises, this method allows the hot air trapped inside the vehicle to escape at the highest point, at the roof line. You should take caution not to open your vehicle's windows too far to prevent theft.

  • Tip: In addition to leaving the windows rolled down slightly, you can leave a rag and water in your vehicle. When getting into the hot vehicle, moisten the rag with water and wipe down the steering wheel and shifter knob. The evaporating water should help cool the surfaces, making them safe to touch.

Step 1: Roll your windows down slightly. Rolling the window down slightly in the hot sun can help vent the hot air from the inside of your vehicle. While it won't stop the build-up of hot air completely, the hot air should leave the vehicle through the escape route provided in the rolled-down windows.

Step 2: Don't roll the windows too low. Try to keep the opening small enough to prevent someone from sticking their arm in the window and unlocking the car. An opening about a half of an inch wide should provide enough air flow.

Step 3: Engage your car alarm. If your vehicle has a car alarm, make sure it is engaged as well. This should discourage any potential thieves.

  • Warning: When you plan on leaving your vehicle for an extended time, you might consider not using this method. Vehicles left unattended with obvious easier access become prime targets for thieves. Also, parking in well-lit public areas where your car is in clear view of passing pedestrians and motorists can further discourage theft.

In order to cool the interior of your vehicle in an efficient manner, it is important to keep your air conditioner working properly at all times, including the belts and the fans. You can get professional advice and your problem fixed, if necessary, by consulting with one of our expert mechanics.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Quickly Cool Down a Hot Car and was authored by Cheryl Knight.


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