Getting into a car on a hot day can feel like you’re crawling into a piping hot oven. Of course, if you’re wearing shorts, you’ll dread plopping your legs down on those black leather seats. And, that scorching hot seatbelt buckle? It’s ready to sizzle your skin.
Naturally, you crank up the air conditioning and start to wonder what’s taking your ride so long to cool down. Thankfully, there’s a few tricks to help you cool down the interior, stat!
We won’t bore you with the obvious, like parking in the shade or leaving your windows slightly cracked to let hot air escape. Rather, these car-cooling tricks are ones you might not have thought of before.
1. Shield your windows with a white towel
You’ve probably seen people put sunshades in their windshields to try to keep their car cool in a sunny parking lot.
We couldn’t find the numbers to show how much this actually cools down a car. But, a cheaper alternative that requires less set-up includes tossing a white towel over the dashboard and steering wheel. The white reflects the sunlight and can help reduce heat, CNN dishes. Plus, you don’t have to wrestle with the sunshade to position it just right.
2. Don’t pre-cool your car
You’ve got that snazzy key fob that gets the air conditioning cranking before you step foot in the car.
But Consumer Reports warns against pre-cooling your car. That’s because your car’s air conditioning can work much more effectively when you’re actually driving. The faster the engine runs, the faster the air conditionor’s compressor goes. You’re wasting time and gas by letting your car run and pre-cool.
If the inside of your car is overwhelmingly hot, Consumer Reports suggests cranking up the fan and opening the rear windows for 10 to 20 seconds to push out the hot air.
3. Set your car temp low, fan high
Another pro tip courtesy of Consumer Reports: Set your AC to the lowest temp, and then adjust the fan so you’re comfortable. This helps make your air conditioning more efficient, and dries out the air less and can even save you some fuel.
Seem counter-intuitive? The reason this works is because a typical air conditioning system first cools the air to 38 degrees. When your AC is set at a higher temperature, your car has to work to re-heat your air and work even harder.
4. Heat-proof your car
Before you step out of the vehicle, crank your steering wheel 180 degrees, suggests NBC News. That way, the part of the steering wheel you put your hands on when you’re ready to drive won’t be directly exposed to the sunlight.
Also, use a drink cooler (AKA a koozie) and place it over your gearshift and seatbelt buckles so that you don’t scorch your hands when you touch these notoriously hot parts of your ride, NBC suggests. (You might have to explain away those koozies, though, if you get pulled over by a police officer!)