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6 Ways To Keep Your Car Cool This Summer

Woman in car with parasol blocking the sun

The British weather doesn’t exactly adhere to conventional seasons, but you can usually count on the fact that we’ll be treated to at least a little bit of sunshine during the summer months. While we never know if the main blast of heat has come and gone, the eternal optimists at PassMeFast are hoping that the sun isn’t ready to throw his hat off just yet.

Then again, as much as we love basking in the heat, it does kind of ruin our second favourite hobby of driving. Travelling on 4 wheels in hot weather can be very uncomfortable. Luckily, we have some tried and tested advice to make it easy breezy!

Without further ado, then, let’s launch into the 6 ways you can keep your car cool this summer…

1 Parking prowess

Car parked under tree with branches touching roof
Image source: Aatur Harsh

The only thing that feels worse than driving along in a hot car is the initial experience of climbing into said car when it’s been baking in the heat all day. We’ve all been there—you’ve spent a lovely day at the beach cooling off in the water, only to return to a vehicle that feels like an oven. Not a pleasant way to round off a day of fun in the sun. The thing is, you can skip this stage altogether simply by being smart about where you park.

If there’s covered parking available at your destination, that’s obviously going to be first choice. This is the kind of thing that it’s best to research before you set off. Try entering your desired location into a site like Parkopedia. It will save you time and even allows you to plan and budget ahead, as you’ll get a clear idea of costs and required walking time. Then, with a covered parking spot secured, you can leave your car as long as necessary without worrying about it heating up!

For those times when a covered car park isn’t an option, you just need to be savvy. When scouting around for a place to park, scan the area for things like trees, foliage and awnings—basically, anything that will create a barrier between your car and the sun. Don’t forget that throughout the day the position of the sun will move. What looks like a fine shady spot in the morning could be an incinerator by the time noon rolls around!

2 Get a little shady

If parking in a covered spot is your front line defence, putting up window shades acts as the armour. We’ve all learnt the hard way that most car interiors are not designed to repel heat. In fact, they basically absorb all of the sun’s rays and radiate them back out. At YOU.

Yes, the smooth, black finishings that look nice and stylish in cooler months suddenly become a major hazard the moment summer hits. That sleek leather upholstery? Mmm, sticky. Shiny metal handles? Just try opening the door without wincing. Solid black steering wheel? Now hotter than the surface of the sun!

Save yourself some minor burns and major discomfort by investing in some sun shades. We’re talking small covers that attach to the interior of your windows and a nice big shield to place on the windscreen. They might be a bit of a faff to put up and take down, but it really is worth it given how much heat they are able to block out. A study by the University of Central Florida (a place that knows more than a thing or two about sunshine!) found that windshield shades alone can reduce the interior temperature of a car by an average of 15°F and dashboard temperatures by 40°F. Sun’s out = shades up!

3 Wind down

Close up of windscreen on convertible car with roof down
Image source: Elwin De Witte

When we say ‘wind down’ we’re talking strictly about car windows—we do not condone anyone getting too relaxed behind the wheel! Now, the readers of the PassMeFast blog are smart people. Opening the car windows when it gets too hot is basic common sense. Beyond that, though, are a couple of techniques that can really help to keep your car cool…

Accidentally left your car parked in a sunny spot? Don’t be dismayed. Before turning the engine on, open the windows on the passenger side of the car. Then, stand outside the car and fan the door on the driver’s side. Not only will this waft the stale, hot air out of the car, you’ll also look super cool doing it. You’re welcome!

Another bit of advice we see bandied around a lot is to leave the windows of your car cracked open ever so slightly. While this does allow fresh air to continue to circulate around your vehicle, it should only be carried out with caution. You’d be amazed how easily thieves can gain access to your car, even if the windows are just a little open. As a result, you should only follow this step if your car is in a fairly safe location and you feel comfortable doing so.

4 Air it out

Wind sock

Another hot weather tip from the mouth of Captain Obvious is to make use of your car’s air con system. We’re going to take it one step further and explain how you can take your cooling game up a notch to ensure optimal impact. It’s all about angles and timing!

You may remember from your school days that hot air rises. When your car is super stuffy, though, all parts of the car feel the same, ungodly temperature. So, encourage the hot air to rise by aiming the fans down towards the lower part of the car. Once cooler air starts to circulate around the footwells, the hot air will be forced up and (eventually) out. Good riddance!

Pro tip

When driving at 30mph or less, you will get the most benefit from having the windows down, rather than relying on air con. As soon as your speed picks up, close the windows and turn up the A/C. Driving at high speeds with the windows open increases resistance and thus uses up more of your precious fuel!

5 Declutter

A pile of old suitcases stacked together
Image source: Nick Fewings

If we’re honest, this is a tip we would shoehorn into most advice articles, but there is some method to our madness here. If your car is full of bags, supplies or general clutter, there’s a lot less space for the air to circulate—and that gentle breeze must be protected at all costs! Plus, if any of these items are dark in colour, they’ll just be holding on to all the heat.

The solution? Before using your car on a hot day, empty it of any unnecessary objects. This could be rubbish, spare luggage, or that frenemy you didn’t want to invite to beach day anyway (sorry, John, but you never paid us back for that Fab lolly in 2005).

6 What’s on the inside counts

Yellow car with magnifying glass

And, finally, if you’re boiling, chances are your engine is too! Before setting off anywhere this summer, make sure you’re taking care of your car’s internal mechanics. We’re not talking anything complex—just make sure all important liquids (like oil and engine coolant) are topped up. Our previous tips are pretty great, but they won’t necessarily keep your car cool if you’re stuck at the side of the M1 for 3 hours!

Take care of your car and it will take care of you.


Keeping your car cool

And that just about does it! Fingers crossed we’re treated to temperatures that will require you to put some of these top tips into action. While we’re on the subject, make sure you check out our list of dos and don’ts for driving in hot weather. With all of this knowledge combined, you’ll really be able to make the most of summer!

By Isobel Robb

Isobel enjoys the freedom of the open road and loves driving to new places. She's here to offer helpful hints and tips to improve your motoring skills. When not keeping up to date with the latest driving info you can find her discovering new restaurants or exhausting her Netflix subscription.

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