8 Ways to Stay Cool When Your Car’s AC Gives Up

When your car's AC dies, there's still hope for a comfortable ride. We’ve put together some helpful tricks for keeping the summer heat from ruining your commute when the AC is out of commission.

Beat the Heat

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surviving without ac

There's a lot to love about summer: cookouts, pool parties, vacations, and family time come to mind. One thing no one loves? A sweltering hot car. If your car’s AC has thrown in the towel and you're not in a position to get it fixed, don't sweat it! Here are eight ways to stay cool when your car’s AC is broken.

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Roll 'Em Down

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roll down car windows

The simplest way to get relief when your car's AC is on the fritz is to roll down the windows when you're on the road and let the airflow cool you off. That said, driving with the windows down increases drag, which can be a drain on your gas mileage, particularly at highway speeds. But when you're sweating, fuel economy is probably the least of your concerns.

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Park in the Shade

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park in shade

There are few sensations as excruciating as sliding into a car that's been baking in the sun all day. Keep your car's interior a little more bearable by parking in the shade. Especially when your AC isn't working, finding a shady spot is essential—even if it means that you’ll have to walk farther. It's also a good idea to invest in a windshield sunshade to block the sun's rays. You may even want to consider shelling out for a parking space in a garage during the summer months.

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Crack a Window

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crack car window

Another trick for keeping an unattended car cool for your return: Leave your windows down—just a tad—to encourage airflow. That little bit of ventilation will prevent heat from building up as quickly, which means you’ll sweat less when you hit the road again. You don’t have to roll them down far, just a crack—enough to let air in and keep would-be thieves out.

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Buy a Cooling Seat Cover

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no ac car

It doesn’t matter how much air makes its way through the windows if your back is baking against a scorching-hot car seat. Keep a cool head, back, and rear with a seat cover like the SNAILAX Cooling Car Seat Cushion with Massage (available on Amazon ). The seat cover plugs into your car’s 12-volt system, and an intake fan at the bottom pushes air through 24 outlets positioned along the cushion to keep your body a little cooler, even if your car's AC is shot.

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Bring a Cold Drink

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cold drink car

A cold drink in your cup holder can do a lot to tone down the heat and keep you hydrated and comfortable during a long drive. Opt for a high-quality thermos to keep your beverage of choice cool for hours. Just fill the thermos with water, iced tea, or lemonade, toss in a few ice cubes, and you should be good to go. Making a road trip? Stash a cooler full of ice and bottled water in the trunk so you’ll always have a cold drink on hand.

Related: 12 Things Never to Leave in a Hot Car

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Grab a Cooling Towel

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use cooling towel

There’s a reason why amusement parks can get away with selling tiny cooling towels for a hefty price: They work. The good news is, you can buy them for less at your local home store (or on Amazon). Once you’ve bought yours, keep it ready for those brutal summer days, whether or not you're driving. To get the full benefits of a cooling towel, pour cool water over it, wring it out, and drape it across your neck.

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Plug in Some Portable Comfort

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car 12V power system

No, this isn’t a window unit that hangs outside your car window. Instead, portable air conditioners like this one available on Amazon run on your car's 12-volt power system or on rechargeable batteries. Depending on the model you choose, you may first need to fill it with ice or water, but then you just switch it on to blow cool air. These little machines can move a surprising amount of air through your vehicle.

Related: 13 Hacks Every Car Owner Should Know

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Try a DIY Fix

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diy car repair

Many things can go wrong with your car’s AC system, but some are pretty straightforward to address. For instance, if your system is simply low on refrigerant, you can buy a refill kit at a local auto parts store. Make sure that you purchase the right kind of refrigerant for your car, and note that you'll need a recharging hose if the kit you buy doesn't include one. One end of the hose attaches to the can of refrigerant, and the other to a fitting under the hood. If you're intimidated by car repairs, ask the staff at the auto parts store for help. Another common cause of a failed AC is a stretched or torn compressor belt. These belts are relatively easy to fix if you follow an online tutorial or YouTube video. Do a little research and see if you can diagnose the problem. As long as your compressor pulley still spins freely, your solution may be cheaper and easier than you thought.

Related: 7 Car Sounds You Should Never Ignore

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