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8 ways to keep your car (and you) cooler

Aug. 31, 2015 at midnight

Every Texan knows the feeling. It’s a sweltering summer day and as you you slide into your car, bare skin touches the hot leather seat or the metal on the seat buckle. Instantly you recoil, certain that your flesh has been branded like a young steer.

Vehicles are essential to most people’s daily lives, so staying out of the car until the weather cools is not a viable option. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help keep your car cooler during the hottest days of a scorching Texas summer.

1. Cover your dash

Most dashboards are vinyl, leather or plastic. When the sun is beating through the window, those products all absorb and hold heat. A dashboard cover made from fabric, upholstery or fleece will prevent that heat retention. As an added bonus, it will also keep the sun from drying and cracking the dashboard.

2. Add some blankets

Using blankets in a hot car might seem contradictory, but angieslist.com recommends throwing blankets over vinyl or leather seats when you park. The blankets will block the sunlight so the seats will stay cooler.

3. Harness the sun

You might be able to make the sun work for you rather than against you. Consider adding a solar-powered car fan. According to a cnet.com report, these fans can lower the temperature inside your car by 25 degrees. A search of online reviews shows that some models work better than others, so do some research before deciding what to buy. Remember that the size of your car makes a difference. There is a lot more air to cool inside an SUV than in a sub-compact car and multiple fans might be needed.

4. Turn around

“It is not always possible to park in the shade, but you can always turn your car around so that most of the sunlight will go into the back of your car,” suggests simplyautos.com. Take an extra minute or two to determine which way the sun is facing when you park and then orient the windshield away from the direct sunlight.

5. Tint it

Window tinting is proven to block sunlight (and heat). Texas law allows any darkness level of tinting on rear windows and back side windows. Front side windows must allow at least 25 percent of the light to come through, according to tinting-laws.com. There are additional requirements regarding tint colors, certificates, mirrors, etc., so make certain the tinting is done by an experienced, reputable dealer.

6. Cool seat covers

Seat covers specifically designed to make car seats cooler have been around for a long time and most of them are at least somewhat effective. Today there are models that incorporate a fan to circulate air through and around the seat cover. If you haven’t tried them, this might be the year to start. Amazon.com lists dozens of styles and prices, including some that get great ratings from customers.

7. Use the shades

Most drivers know that placing a sunshade in the front windshield will help keep a parked car cooler. Even with that knowledge, some people just don’t bother because they think it is a hassle. An additional shade for the rear windshield increases the effectiveness and takes only an extra 30 seconds or so. Consumerreports.org notes, “Sunshades will allow the car to cool faster reducing the time you need to use the air conditioning on high, which can save you some money in gas.”

8. Try a combination

On days when the temperatures approach or exceed triple digits, no single solution is going to make your vehicle significantly cooler. If you utilize several of these tips together, however, you should notice a big difference.

With some of the hottest days of summer still ahead, now is the time to pamper your car and yourself by taking steps to keep your ride cool.


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