The quickest way to cool your car down

The quickest way to cool your car down
It's been a long day at work and you're desperate to get home to soak up the last of the evening's rays when BANG you're hit by a Moroccan heatwave from the inside of your car.

The horrors of parking your car in the baking sun all day.

You didn't intentionally park it in the sun of course, but then the sun is ever so prone to moving. It's not even worth thinking about the state of that emergency Mars bar in the glove box.

Fear not, there are solutions - follow our no-sweat guide to cooling down your hot car's interior.

How to cool down a hot car


1. Fan the interior

Open both the windows on one side of the car, then ‘fan’ the interior by swinging a door on the opposite side back and forth.

Providing you're not worried about potentially looking a bit weird, repeat this open-close motion at least three times to help expel the hot air.

Leave the sunroof shut if the car is parked outside in sunlight, though.

2. Switch on the air conditioning, correctly

We know – captain obvious has arrived – but just in case you didn't already know...

Start the engine and switch the air conditioning to its coldest setting.

If your car offers the option, select the ‘external’ air setting (the symbol on the switch usually shows an arrow entering the car), rather than air recirculation (a circular arrow).

The air outside the car will be cooler at this point. Open all remaining windows, as the air-con system will take a few minutes to become effective.

3. Use the lower air vents

Heat rises, so it makes sense to blast the cooler, air-conditioned air into the footwells, forcing the hot air already inside the car upwards and out of the open windows.

Shut off the upper vents on the dashboard and at the base of the windscreen so that the full flow of air into the car is directed upwards.  

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4. Keep the windows open

Start driving, but keep the car windows open for a minute or two to let all the hot air escape, do this until the air from the vents feels cooler than the outside temperature.

Unfortunately most people's commutes involve sitting in traffic, which won’t help air circulation. If traffic is a persistent issue, we strongly recommend investing in a flying car...

5. Close the windows and switch to recirculated air

Once the air conditioning is blowing cold, close all the windows and switch to (pre-cooled) recirculated air.

You can now open the upper air vents and adjust the flow as required.

More advanced ‘climate control’ air-conditioning systems allow you to set and maintain a constant temperature within the car.

Remember your car checks with Summer FORCES



Remember the acronym 'FORCES' and you'll go a long way to ensuring your car is ready for any long drive.

F is for FUEL

Ensure you have enough fuel for your journey. Cars use more fuel in heavy traffic and start/stop conditions which can be regular occurrences, especially in warm weather.

O is for OIL

To avoid engine damage and a potential breakdown, remember to check your oil level and top up when necessary to reduce the chances of overheating in traffic.

R is for RUBBER 

Your tyres can tell you a lot about how your car is performing. If they aren’t wearing evenly, then tyre pressures may be mismatched or there could be a fault with the steering. 

Check that all four tyres have at least 3mm of tread and are inflated to the correct pressure - this is vital to maintaining good grip in wet and even icy conditions. For everything you need to know about how to check your tyres you can read our how to check your tyres advice complete with short video.

Also take a look at your wiper blades to ensure they're clearing the screen effectively and that the rubber has not perished.

C is for COOLANT 

This does a vital job in ensuring the engine runs at the right temperature. If it’s not between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ levels, this could be the sign of a problem so contact a good garage without delay.


Your wipers will help keep your windscreen clear of bugs, and you’ll need your lights on during any heavy downpours. The electrics also control your indicators and windows, so check there are no problems.


Top-up your windscreen washer fluid by using a good quality screenwash, nobody wants bugs and seagull poo all over their windscreen after a trip to the beach.

How to prevent your car getting hot in the first place

How to cool down your car

1. Park away from direct sunlight

Parking in the shade – perhaps under a tree or canopy – is one easy way to prevent your car heating up. If you have a garage, then use it. It will keep your car cool, clean and secure.

2. Use a windscreen sunshade

A windscreen sunshade keeps the sun’s rays away from your car interior – especially the touch-points, such as the steering wheel and gear lever. They are available from most car accessory shops; simply tuck the shade behind the sun visors when you park the car.

3. Leave windows (slightly) open

Leaving your windows slightly open allows air to circulate through the car – particularly as the hot air inside rises. However, if your car is parked outdoors, we don’t advise leaving more than a couple of centimetres gap between the top of the window and the door frame. You don’t want a potential thief to be able to reach inside. Likewise, activate your alarm while the car is parked.

4. Cover your seats

Most modern car cabins are blacker than a coal mine, and that’s bad news for keeping cool. Leather seats, in particular, can get uncomfortably hot and sticky – and may degrade and crack if regularly exposed to heat. Fitting light-coloured seat covers is one solution, or you could opt for lighter upholstery in the first place. As a temporary measure, a towel spread over the seat will help keep you cool.  

5. Wipe down hot surfaces

On very hot days, the interior door handles, steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake may become painfully hot to touch. Wiping them over with a damp cloth will remedy this.

6. Keep the air-con maintained

Keeping the air conditioning system maintained is vital for cooling your car quickly and effectively. The refrigerant gas will usually become depleted over time, and belts may need tightening or replacing. Consult your car handbook and stick to the service schedule.

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