How to keep car cool in heat?
July 15, 2007 9:52 AM   Subscribe

As of tomorrow, my car will be basking in the Burbank sun 9-6, 5 days a week. What can I do so that getting back in it at the end of the day won't be the most unpleasant experience of my life?

Oh, and I've got black leather sets too :-)
posted by forallmankind to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total)
Windshield shade inside, of course, but also get one for the back window. For the side windows, got to a camping store, or the sport section of WalMart and get a couple "space blankets." They are cheap. They are very thin mylar and compress down to a small packet. Cut to fit your side windows, and roll the windows up on them and let them hang inside. You only need one piece to cover both front and rear windows. You could also roll only the front windows onto the mylar, and hang the back parts from the coat hooks over the rear windows. This way, you can roll the rear windows down a tiny bit, which may help heat not to build up as much.
posted by The Deej at 10:01 AM on July 15, 2007

Windshield shade inside, of course, as Deej mentions.

For the side windows, I've seen in auto stores a window deflector one can attach to the side of the car: it permits one to open the windows just a tad, but protects the interior of the car from rain or prying wire-hangers. Alas, I can't figure out the google search to identify the name of the product.
posted by commander_cool at 10:13 AM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

If your budget allows it, go to an auto parts store and buy a remote starter. When you exit the car in the morning, set the AC to a pretty high level; about 5 min before you need to get in the car, start it up remotely, and by the time you get to the car it'll be cool enough to deal with and you can turn the AC back down.
posted by pdb at 10:18 AM on July 15, 2007

Sunshades work very well, but they can take quite a bit of time to set up. I suggest just getting a tarp at an auto store. They protect your car from minor scratches, prevent the paint from fading, and really only take a minute or two to take on and off.

Please think before getting an automatic starter. They waste a lot of fuel, particularly if you get caught up in a conversation, phone call, and it takes quite a while to cool down an idling car.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 10:35 AM on July 15, 2007

Alcohol in a spray bottle can cool down an overheated interior
quickly,just spray in the air and as it evaporates,cools.
posted by hortense at 10:39 AM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Get a white car.

I've also wondered if attaching mirrors to the roof of a car would help... seems like a good idea, but I've never thought of a good way to attach them.
posted by amtho at 10:42 AM on July 15, 2007

I parked in the sun in Mobile, Alabama 24-7 for 2 years. I used those reflective screens that collapse and can be instantly expanded to cover the windows. If/when I forgot or neglected those, I would roll down both windows from the outside (as much as possible, I mean) and after a few minutes it was bearable to enter. I might that I never used my AC except for on long trips on the interstate.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:50 AM on July 15, 2007

They make little solar powered fans that fit in the gap of a slightly rolled down window. I don't know how effective they are but I've always been curious to try.

I've got a moon roof that hinges to open a few inches at the back. I always leave that open in summer, unless it looks like rain. Works fairly well in my climate but it would be tedious in an area with more frequent and/or random rains. On the off chance you have the same be sure to open that up.

Or you could just be thankful that the most unpleasant experience in your life is having to get into a hot car.
posted by 6550 at 10:56 AM on July 15, 2007

Be sure to check for the right shade size for your windshield, as well--some small cars have larger windshields than you might think.
posted by gimonca at 10:58 AM on July 15, 2007

6550, do you have a link to that fan? Sounds interesting!
posted by Quietgal at 11:03 AM on July 15, 2007

Solar car fans are popular "as seen on TV" products, like this one:

Auto Cool
posted by seymour.skinner at 11:11 AM on July 15, 2007

Leave a big white towel draped over the driver's seat when you park the car.
posted by Carol Anne at 12:01 PM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks for all the answers so far - with regard to the Auto Cool though, I found this on my travels before I posted this morning.
posted by forallmankind at 12:05 PM on July 15, 2007

What if you used two Auto Cools? One pulling air into the car, one pushing it out. I doubt just one solar-powered fan can push air from a *sealed* car.
posted by Sfving at 12:53 PM on July 15, 2007

I completely 2nd the remote starter. Feel free to do the other options listed here additionally, but the remote starter will make your life a lot more enjoyable.
posted by wile e at 1:44 PM on July 15, 2007

Best answer: A full size reflective or white car cover will get you maximum heat protection. But that's a pain to deal with on a daily basis, and if you're not careful when taking it off you can accidentally transfer grease/dirt from the car to your clothes. smartcover is smaller and faster to put on/off. Because it covers the cabin instead of the whole body, you mostly only have to look out for bird crap when taking it off. Also, it locks onto the car door so wind and wiseacres can't mess with it. My car doesn't have A/C, iso mine is a summer essential. It gets used even for short stops, like the grocery store.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:25 PM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm having trouble seeing exactly how it works, but it looks like that Auto Cool might mean your window is open a crack, which could invalidate insurance claims for people breaking into your car.. worth checking with your insurance company if you go that route.
posted by wackybrit at 3:59 PM on July 15, 2007

AutoCool = Piece of Crap. Well meaning elderly relative bought it for me last Christmas and I anticipated the Virginia summer knowing this year I may come out of work to a cool car

But no. Piece of crap didn't work worth a lick.
posted by worker_bee at 4:31 PM on July 15, 2007

Response by poster: I'm inclined to agree with the bad reports on the Auto Cool - I mean, if someone asked you to sit in a car in direct sunlight for 9hrs in > 90degree heat, and told you a piddly little fan wedged in your window would keep you cool, I think you'd tell them exactly where to go.

nakedcodemonkey's smartcover is exactly what I'm looking for - in fact when I first read The Deej's excellent space blanket idea, I was wondering if I could build my own cover with a couple of space blankets and some duct tape.

Thanks for all the suggestions - I'm off to order in two easy installments, etc etc
posted by forallmankind at 4:42 PM on July 15, 2007

Smartcover looks like a cool idea! (Ha! Pun!) I have never seen that before. I'll file that away in my brain. I usually bike t work, but it might be good for driving days. It gets over 100 here pretty regularly.
posted by The Deej at 8:51 PM on July 15, 2007

When I was in the USN I was assigned to a base in the Mojave (don't ask, took me almost 4 years in the Navy before I was assigned to a base closer than 150 miles to the ocean:) All we did was use the front window sun shade and leave the windows cracked a bit and it wasn't too bad when you got in...of course, it was 130 out, so by that point you can't really tell the difference between inside a hot car and outside :)

posted by legotech at 12:59 AM on July 16, 2007

I was wondering if I could build my own cover with a couple of space blankets and some duct tape

Worth trying. Space blankets will be more reflective and much lighter than SmartCover's material. And SmartCover's added geegaws like ballasts and suction cups do make it considerably bulkier to store (~shoebox size?). On the other hand, their material seems more tear resistant. Which is good since it's getting car door and trunk lid slammed on it daily. Still if you used duct tape to reinforce the slam-regions, the space blanket solution could do well.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:03 PM on July 16, 2007

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