Beat the Heat! Ways to Cool Down a Hot Car Interior

  • Jun 22,2020
Heat shield on car windshield Heat shield on car windshield

You pull over at a gas station and fill up while your family takes a much-needed leg stretch. Once you get everyone loaded back into the car, it’s HOT! You've got a pouting toddler in the back seat and a steaming steering wheel on your hands. You need to cool down, quick! But rather than turning up the A/C and enduring a five-minute heatwave while it cools, adopt these car hacks for cooling a hot car, fast.

How to Cool Down Your Car

Cars parked in direct sunlight on an 80° F day can reach an internal temperature of up to 172° F, states And even though hot car cabins feel like an inevitable downside to summer, there are several ways to expedite the cooling process inside the cabin:

1. Get the hot air out first.

Though you might be tempted to simply hop in and smash the “MAX A/C” button on your dash, this practice might not be very efficient. Before you even start the car, get the hot, stuffy air out! Open your passenger and driver-side doors, then stand on either side and quickly open and close the door you’re closest to. This “fan” like motion will help push hot air out and suck in fresh(er) air.

2. Create a draft.

If your car still feels muggy (or you simply don’t have time to follow step one), force even more hot air out by rolling down your windows, and opening your sunroof when you start driving. Turn the fan on to promote ventilation further.

3. Now, turn on the A/C.

Once you feel like you’ve squeezed all the hot air out of your car interior, it’s time to bring out the big guns! Roll the windows up, and power up your car A/C by turning the dials to the lowest temperature setting and the lowest fan speed. The low fan speed will allow the air coming out of the vents to get cold more quickly — then crank up the fan speed!

Additionally, when you first turn on your car air conditioner on a hot day, use the “recirculation” mode instead of the “fresh air” mode. In most cars, it's the button that has the silhouette of your car with an arrow that’s shaped kind of like a recycling symbol. By recirculating the inside air over the air conditioning coils in the dash, it makes it easier and faster for the air conditioner to drop the temperature.

4. Keep it fresh.

Once your A/C has cooled down the cabin, feel free to adjust the temperature controls, fan speed and recirculation versus fresh air mode. (Just be aware that on some cars, “Max A/C” will automatically turn on the recirculation mode.)

Since the recirculation mode allows your system to condition the same air cyclically (some fresh air is always being introduced even in the recirculation mode), you may find that your cabin becomes colder, quicker once you switch. Additionally, recirculation mode helps keep out skunky smells from outside the cabin!

5. Keep your cool with Tires Plus.

If you already tried our tips for cooling down your hot car and you’re STILL sweating, you may have technical problems with your car's A/C on your hands. But don’t let things get too heated! Make a pit stop at your nearest Tires Plus, and our certified technicians will inspect and diagnose your air conditioning system, and provide you with maintenance and repair recommendations so you can make the choice that’s right for you!

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