- air conditioning
How To Cool Down A Hot Car
Updated 21 Nov 2023
AutoGuru has a bunch of neat car hacks you should try, but one we haven't covered yet is how to cool down a hot car. No matter what you do to avoid it, if your car is closed up and parked in the sun for an extended period, it will feel like the inside of an oven.
Whether you try to reduce the heat levels with sun shades on the windows or window tinting, Australian drivers can’t dodge the sun completely unless they park undercover.
So, what can you do to cool your car down quickly and experience a comfortable drive as soon as possible?
- It may seem obvious but put the windows down
- Turn the air conditioner on the coldest setting and crank it up to blasting
- Make sure you set the air con to fresh - do not recycle the air inside - let fresh air come in from outside
- Adjust the airflow so it is blowing into the footwells
- Drive for a few minutes like this until all the hot air has been pushed out
- When the air inside is cooler than outside put the windows up
- Change the air conditioner setting to recycle so the cooler air inside is now recirculating
- Adjust temperature to the desired settings
Air conditioning settings
Remember not to drive for long distances with your air con settings on recirculate when the windows are up.
At least every 2 hours you should run some fresh air through the vehicle. By blowing air down into the foot wells you are forcing the hot air up and out, if you only blow cold air upwards then you will not cool the whole cabin of the vehicle.
These tips also work without the use of air conditioning, less effectively, but you should still be able to achieve a cooler interior than exterior by removing the hot air.
Why remove hot air from the vehicle?
Obviously, we want to increase our comfort levels as driving in a sauna is not particularly ideal and could be dangerous, especially due to the high temperatures of a parked vehicle.
The other consideration is the toxins that can be produced in a hot car. In today’s age, we are made more aware of the possible toxins produced by materials stored in enclosed environments.
Your car is no different. From the flooring to the seat covers and door panels, the car is full of different materials that in a very hot situation may produce more toxins than usual.
When you do go to get in a hot car, take a moment to open the doors and allow some heat and possible pollutants to disperse before jumping in.
If you also keep water bottles in your car consider how hot the car has been before you take a drink from that water bottle, you may not only be drinking disgustingly hot water but contaminants from the plastic container as well.
Sunshades are effective at keeping the sun and heat out of your car. They can be placed on the front and/or rear inside windows.
There are also side window shades available that slide over the top of the door. Sunshades are available from auto accessory stores such as Supercheap Auto or even Kmart, costing anywhere between $10 to $75.
The effort to store them in the car and to place them correctly may test your patience, but some people swear by them.
If anything, it will help keep the sun off your gear shifter and steering wheel so they are not hot to touch.
Wind the windows down
Another option is to leave your windows slightly open. This will only release heat from the top of your vehicle, but it may be enough to reduce the temperature inside to a more bearable level.
Keep in mind that you do open yourself up to a higher chance of vehicle theft and your insurance company may not like the fact you had your windows open.
However you leave your car on a hot sunny day, make sure you never abandon any pets or children in the car.
The interior of your car can reach dangerous temperatures very quickly and death can occur. It is against the law for anyone to leave a child unattended in a car, let alone in a hot one! Similarly, animals should not be left in a hot vehicle at any time.
Rachel spent her early adult life around cars, motorsport and hands-on with her own cars. This interest moved into various careers within the Automotive industry. Joined with her passion for writing, Rachel loves putting the two together to share her experience, so we can all become AutoGuru’s.