It has been unseasonably warm in the Northwest this Spring, reminding us that summer is just around the corner. One stark reminder is the overwhelming heat you feel when getting into your car after work. The one time people with leather wish they had cloth is when they burn their bum on the seat and sweat to death the whole way home. Everyone knows what it’s like when you can’t touch your steering wheel, and forget buckling your seat-belt right away. It’s hard to breathe and you can’t roll your windows down fast enough, not that that even really helps when it’s 90 degrees out. No one wants to hop into an oven on wheels after a long day at work, so here are some suggestions that will keep your car several degrees cooler while it sits in the parking lot this summer.
Park In The Shade
If you’re lucky enough to have trees in your parking lot, you’ve probably already noticed that the parking spots near them are a hot commodity. If you have to get to work a few minutes earlier to snatch one of those coveted spots, it will be worth it. Parking in the shade of a tree or building can keep your car up to 10 degrees cooler. (Whether it’s worth it to tick off your co-workers who regularly nab that shady spot, however, is up to you.) If you can’t manage to steal a space near a tree, peek outside around lunchtime to see if any other parking spaces in the lot become shaded in the afternoon by a building or a fence. Going for spots that are only shaded in the morning won’t be much help as the real culprit is direct sunlight in the afternoon.
Keep Your Windows Cracked
You can dramatically reduce the temperature in your car if you leave all the windows cracked a bit. Think about it like keeping your oven door ajar and letting the heat escape. Allowing air to circulate will keep your vehicle’s interior from reaching temperatures that take your breath away. When using this approach be sure not to leave your windows down too far and entice a thief. You wouldn’t want to have someone walking by and see something they can easily take by simply reaching in and grabbing it. Also, given that our climate often seems to have a split personality – raining one minute and sun shining the next- make sure there aren’t any showers in the forecast before you leave your windows cracked.
Use Sun Shades
In the state of Washington drivers are allowed to tint the windows of their cars and block out (at most) 65% of sunlight. You can also have the top 6 inches of your windshield tinted. If tinting your windows is not an affordable option or you’d like to block out that extra 35%, you can use a sunshade or two to block the kinds of sun rays that could bake a batch of cookies on your dashboard.
Windshield sun shades are a huge help and the best ones will have a reflective material on them. But, pretty much anything you can find to prop up against your windows and keep sunlight out of your car will make the start to your drive home much more pleasant.
Any one of these tips will reduce the interior temperature of your car by several degrees, but if you use all three together the results will be even better. It won’t be like the North Pole in there, but it’s certainly better than nothing. Once you get into your car, roll the windows down and turn your air conditioner on high until it cools off. Then roll your windows back up and bask in the cool breeze as you head for home.
If you feel like your car’s AC isn’t working as well as it should, bring it by Grease Monkey in Battle Ground and we’ll check it out for you.