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  1. #1

    Default Keeping the car cooler while parked

    Just wondering if there is some new product out there (or an old one I don't know about) that will help to keep the car a bit cooler when it's parked.

    I suppose keeping the windows open is one option, but that doesn't seem very secure.

    The "Auto Cool" seemed like a good idea, until I read the reviews and studies that showed it not only doesn't keep the car cool, it also actually makes it hotter. Has anyone tried hooking up two so they get cross-ventilation? (Not sure if that works, since I don't know if the fans are reversible anyways.)

    How about sunshades? Are there any that are actually good? The one we have works best when used as a mat for sitting on the ground, and not at all as something to keep the car cooler.

    So, any ideas would be really excellent. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default No Miracle

    While there isn't a perfect solution, I don't think sunshades are a bad option. They aren't going to keep your car "cool", but they are ok for keeping a car a little less hot.

    Another option I have on my car are the pieces of plastic that go along the top of the window. They can let you crack the windows an inch while still having your windows covered from rain and the like. I don't know if I'd buy them again, but they came on my current vehicle and they are ok.

    Or you can always get a remote starter, so you can blast the AC for a few minutes before you get inside!

  3. #3


    Well, the issue is more about things we'd like to leave in the car, but not necessarily have melt while we are away (crayons, candles, that kind of thing).

    Which brand/type of sunshades do you recommend? We have one of those shiny metallic ones that fold in kind of a zigzag when you're done with them, and it does absolutely nothing to keep the car cooler.

    I need to pick up some last minute things at Napa auto parts before we leave, so I'll check out the plastic things to keep rain out, too.

    I'm wishing I were as trusting as my mother was when I was growing up: she just left the windows on her car wide open when it was hot, and the car stayed significantly cooler (a good thing, since it didn't have A/C!).

  4. #4

    Default Sounds stupid...

    It probably sounds stupid but wouldn't it be far more productive to spend a few more seconds looking for a more sheltered parking space?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default True True

    The point of trying to find shade certainly is a valid one, although it often just isn't possible on the huge asphalt slab parking lots.

    I've never found any brand of sunshade works any better than another. They only hep because they reduce some of the direct sunlight that shines into your car, so I don't think it makes that much of a difference. But I also don't think you can expect them to be a miracle either. If you are parked in the sun on a 95 degree day, a sunshade might help keep your car from "only" getting to 120 degrees inside instead of 130. Its still certainly going to be hot.

    Cracking the windows, even a little bit is going to help more. That option will at least let some of that hot air escape.

    While its not a practical short term solution, buying a light colored car is also a huge help, compared to a dark car.

    Unfortuantly, the problem lies with physics, and the reflective properties of car windows, so there is no great solution, just a lot of things that will help a little bit.

  6. #6


    We will definitely look for shade, first and foremost. But Midwest Michael is right, shade is not always available. Since we're going to be driving cross-country, I am sure there will be plenty of times when the car is parked somewhere with no shade at all.

    And our car, inconveniently, is dark green, so it's also more inclined to soak up sunlight.

    Thanks for the thoughts--I was hoping there was some product out there that really did work to keep a car cooler, but I guess it's just not available technology yet. I can keep hoping. (As my partner says, a solar powered air conditioner really makes sense; too bad no one has made one yet.)

  7. #7
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Some lessons from the Valley of the Sun

    From experience down here in Arizona, I can tell you most efforts to keep a car cool doesn't work, except covered parking. Sunshades make it so when you get in you don't burn yourself on your steering wheel or turning the key, but the car will still be hot.

    Outside of a remote starter to blast the AC, I'm not sure if there is a sure fire way to keep the heat out.

    You might try, if you'll be parking the car for the better part of several hours or a day, putting a cover over your car. That might keep the temperature down far more than just a simple sunshade on the dashboard. I've yet to try it (and I might try it out in the next few months my self).

    That's the only new thing I can think of.

    -Arizona Brad

  8. Default Nothing much works.. but can help somewhat

    I used to spend a fair amount of time in the desert, near Palm Springs, where it would get up to over 120 F on a regular basis.

    There isn't anything that will keep your call cool in the noontime summer sun. Basically its just absorbing that 1400 watts per square foot and it'll warm up... (as a point of comparision, most toasters run 300-500 watts, and some hair dryers run about 1000 watts.... Now imagine 2 toasters, or a hair dryer on full on each square foot of your car....)

    As pointed out, the best thing to do is keep the car out of the direct sunlight -- park it in the shade.

    Secondly, your best option is to reflect some of the sunlight back -- using a light colored or reflective sunshade, first of all. Now, that jet black "Oakland Raiders" sunshade I saw the other day looked really neat, but I don't think its going to keep the car much cooler... Or you can go with a lighter colored car or upholstery -- but that's not an option if you already own the car.

    Lastly, you can try to reduce the "greehouse effect" inside -- where the sunlight comes in, heats up the inside of the car, and the heat (IR) emitted by the sunlit interior of the car is trapped inside by the windows. If you crack a window or circulate the air somewhat, you can reduce this feedback effect.

    I've seen several devices to do the latter, including a solar powered device that fitted on the moonroof and which used a solar panel and a fan to circulate the air --- but its not as effective as parking in the shade or covering the car. Putting a fan *inside* a sealed car, only allows it to heat more evenly....

    Now what can you do to keep things inside a car from heating up? If you put things at the bottom of the car, in the shade, it will help some -- say in the footwell of the passenger seat. If you put them in an insulated container, say an ice chest, and put the ice chest out of the sun, it will reduce the heat on the ice chest, and the ice chest's insulation will help keep anything in it cooler, with or without ice. If you can't put it out of the sun, put some insulation on it (a blanket, for example) to reduce the heat soat from the hot air in the car, and put something reflective on top of that to reflect back some additional heat.

    But in the end, if you leave it there for a couple of days, it will get hot. If you're worried about something getting hot and melting (like crayons or chocolate chip cookies) make sure to put them in a ziplock back or something like that. Even if they do melt, the crayons or cookies should melt at a lower temperature than the poly bag, and the damage will be limited. A couple of moments to look around the back of the car and see what's been left out can pay big time in minimizing meltage... An acquaintance of mine permanently fused a stick of "Dr Zogg's Sex Wax" to the front dash of his sports car one time. Now, Dr Zogg's is a popular wax used to wax the top of surfboards to improve your footting, so its pretty common to find. The name I guess, was someone's idea of marketing, but it works pretty well. But my buddy was in a hurry to get to the water, and zoomed away from his car towards the water leaving the flat tube of wax on his dashboard. Coming back at the end of the day, he found the tube of wax had melted and spread on his dash, and never managed to get it off.. He did scrape off the paper after getting ribbed about the "Sex Wax" on his dash a bit, and having his girlfriend's dad grill him repeatedly about this "Sex Wax Stuff" in his car....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Have to agree

    Nothing really helps keep the inside of the car cooler. But, when I had a car that had hard (some kind of plastic) seats rather than uphostery I always carried towels in the car so that I didn't burn my legs when wearing shorts. Also getting a steering wheel cover can help keep you from burning your hands.

    During the summer I usually get in the car, roll down the windows, and drive a couple of miles before starting the AC. Otherwise the AC is just blowing hot air into the car for the first few minutes, plus the windows allow some of the super hot air inside your car to circulate outside.


  10. #10


    Thanks for the tips. I guess I should be glad I'm already doing pretty much everything I can do. I guess I should buy a lighter colored car next time. :)

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