How to Stop Your Car’s Interior from Overheating

cars interior overheating

Summer is most definitely on its way. Whilst the sunshine might be great whilst you’re walking on the beach or lounging in front of the pool, it’s anything but fun when you’re trapped inside a car with the inside turning into a sauna. We have previously talked about how to stop your car’s engine from overheating and looking after your air con, but how do you ensure that your car’s interior is cool, bearable and fresh during the hottest months?

Table of contents:

Why Do Cars Heat Up?

The simple answer is that your car acts like a greenhouse. The short waves of the sunshine can easily pass through the windows, which is in turn absorbed by the car’s surfaces, such as the seats, the dash and carpet. These materials harbour the heat energy and slowly radiate it back into the car. Because this heat energy is longer wave forms, this can’t penetrate the glass of the car and gets trapped inside the cabin, seriously warming it up. And the darker the colour of your interior, the better it is at storing the heat.

How to Stop Your Car from Getting Hot

One of the best ways to stop your car from getting hot is to prevent those short heat waves from the sun ever getting into your cabin. There are several ways you can block these rays, with some of the most popular including the following…

Use a Sun Visor, Windscreen Shade or Window Curtains

sunshade to prevent car's interior overheating

One of the classic ways of blocking out the sun is by using a barrier in front of the window glass. Popular methods include large foil reflectors that can be placed behind the windscreen, which is great for keeping your steering wheel, gear stick and seats from becoming painfully hot Additionally you can keep your car even cooler by placing a similar guard on the rear windscreen whilst pulling the side curtains into place. Want to know where to get these accessories? You should find them at most motoring shops and stores.

Parking in the Shade

This is one of the easiest ways to keep your car cool and works wonders during the warmest part of the day. In the city it might be hard to find parking that’s got a good level of cover, but it can be worth the walk if you value a well-chilled interior. Look for space under a tree or canopy and if you can’t get the whole car under shade, at least try to get the driver’s seat so the darkness protects it from the warmth of the sun. Best of all is to hire a garage, which will have the added benefit of keeping your car clean as well as cool. And if you can’t find anything first thing in the morning, then don’t worry, you can always get out later and find an alternative shady spot.

Leave Your Windows Open Slightly

Even the smallest opening between your car’s body and the glass can allow air to circulate, giving you that vital ventilation to keep the vehicle cool. We’re talking about a small gap that’s not enough to allow access by hand, but will allow the air to get around. You can do the same with the sunroof if you have one and of course, don’t forget to activate the car alarm.

Cover Your Vehicle’s Interior Parts

Help keep the inside of your car cool by using an upholstered dash cover, which stops surfaces from getting too hot, which also has the added benefit of preventing interior plastics from cracking and fading. One cheaper option is to place a towel over the dash, steering wheel and other exposed areas to stop the heat getting through. Leather seats can get particularly hot, but you can keep them cool with fabric seat covers or use towels again.

Check Your Air Con

Regular checks on your air con will ensure it is in working order, helping it stay well maintained. The refrigerant gas usually depletes over time and the belts will periodically need tightening or replacing. When dealing with this system it is always best to check the car handbook and stick to the prescribed service schedule.

Cooling Down an Overheated Vehicle Cabin

Of course, it’s not always possible to stop a car from getting too hot. However, there are plenty of steps you can take to restore a nice lower temperature in your interior if the heat does get too much. Try some of the following actions:

Fan the Car Doors

Use airflow to blow the heat out of the car by fanning the doors. It’s a simple enough process where you wind down the windows on one side of the car and fan the door on the other side, which forces the hot air out and brings in colder, fresher air from outside. Any worries you might have about looking odd or sweaty when performing this process should be over-ridden by the benefits, but if you are too self-conscious then you can get a lesser effect by leaving the doors open for a short while before getting into the car.

Wipe Down Any Hot Surfaces

In the sunshine its possible for the steering wheel, gear stick and handbrake to become painfully hot to the touch. In such cases wiping the hot surfaces down with a damp cloth can work wonders. The heat will make the water evaporate, taking away some of the heat and you can even wipe down leather seats for a similar effect.

Use Your Air Conditioning

car air conditioning

Whilst this might sound a little like we are stating the obvious here, there are ways of using your air conditioning that are more effective than others. Ideally, you’ll leave your windows open for a few minutes to let the hot air escape whilst leaving the air con on the coldest setting. If your car gives you the option then select the external air setting, which is usually denoted by a symbol on the switch showing an arrow entering the car, rather than the air re-circulation, often denoted by a circular arrow symbol.

And once the air conditioning has reached a cold, comfortable temperature then all you need to do is close all the windows and make that switch over to the recirculated air function.

Point the Vents Downwards

Whilst it is undoubtedly tempting to point the air vents in your face so you can benefit from cooling effect of the moving air, it’s actually more effective to pump the air into the footwells. This process forces the hot air already in the car upwards and out of the open windows. You can even shut off the upper and window vents to force more cold air into the footwells, speeding up the cooling down of your vehicle’s interior.

Cooling Technology and Modifications

Yes, we do live in the 21st century and there’s now a gadget to help you out with pretty much everything. Getting the cold comfort back into your car is no exception, so you may want to try out some of these cool products…

Cooling Car Seat or Cushion

Keep your rear end cool and reduce the stress of long driving sessions with a cooling car seat or cushion. This cooling gel filled accessory works by creating small channels between your body and the seat allowing you to cool down through increased air circulation. If it works well then you can even remove it from the car and use it in the office or at home.

Solar Powered Fan

This little gadget is an excellent investment. There are a variety of models available with some of the most popular working by sitting on the edge of a slightly opened window. Power is provided by small solar panel that drives the fan, expelling the hot air, which in turn pulls colder air into the car lowering the ambient temperature.

Tinted Windows

car with tinted windows

We’ve talked about presenting a barrier to the sun’s beams in order to keep your car cool, well putting tinted windows on your vehicle is not unlike wearing a pair of sunglasses. These darkened windows will allow some light to penetrate the car but much of it will bounce off the surface. You’ll make the interior significantly cooler and even though these windows tend to be expensive, if you live somewhere that’s constantly exposed to bright sunshine it may well be worth the investment.

Air-Conditioned Seats

Experience the ultimate in-car comfort with air-conditioned seats. Obviously, you’ll have to choose these when you purchase your expensive, luxury car, but if you’ve got the option then why not go for it? They give you a nice, cool, refreshing experience no matter how hot the rest of the world might be.

Remote Start

And you can even use the power of remote control to make your car cool before you get in. If you have the money then why not purchase a car with a remote start control for your air conditioning and you could trigger the system from distances up to a mile away, giving you plenty of time to cool down the car before you even unlock the doors.

And Finally…

Stepping into a hot car is one thing, but being trapped inside a hot vehicle is another thing entirely. Never leave your children or pets in a hot car as this could be extremely dangerous or even fatal. It’s not impossible to leave your dog in a car in the summer – just make sure you follow some of the basic rules. And until next time, keep it cool.

This entry was posted in Driving on by Justin Smith.

About Justin Smith

As the man at the helm of BreakerLink, it is no surprise that its Director, Justin Smith, has always had a keen interest in cars, bikes and most things wheeled. Having spent over two decades in the car parts industry, Justin combines his passion that since 2002, has successfully united those looking for new and used car parts with the breaker that supplies them. Follow Justin on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: These articles are for guidance purposes only. If you have any questions regarding any matter relating to your vehicle we would recommend that you seek the advice of an appropriate professional. We accept no responsibility or liability should you suffer financial or personal damages in relation to the advice stated on this website.