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July 16 Weekly Open Thread: It's Just Too Hot To Handle

Melted wheelHave you walked out to the car lately and found it looking something like this? Well, you're not alone. Most of the Nation has had an epic heat wave lately; here in Nashville, we set an all-time (not daily) record of 109° on Friday, June 29th.

The outside of our cars is taking a beating in this heat; of course, it's even hotter inside the car. And after a long day at work, getting into our mobile ovens can be unpleasant, at best.

One thing I do to help relieve this scorching misery is to lay a large white beach towel over the entire dash, and especially the steering wheel. Not only does this help shield the dash plastics from this inferno, but you can actually touch the wheel without getting burns on your fingers. Then you can get moving and have the A/C working that much faster.

Other than parking in the shade if possible and cracking the windows a bit, I'm out of ideas on how to cool a parked car. Oh, and if you live below the Mason-Dixon Line, you might want to get a white car next time. I hear they stay about 10 degrees cooler than a black one.

Does anybody else have some heat-avoidance tips? This being Monday it's a place to share them, as well as anything else even the least bit car-related.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

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Remote car starter. Makes all the difference in both heating & cooling. Will 99% sure have one in both our next vehicles.

--Big Chris

Drop the rear windows about an inch, and "tilt" the sunroof, leaving the sunshade closed. The car will still be hot, but not as hot as if you'd left it completely closed up.

When you get in, turn on the a/c and have it blowing through the floor vents. Keep the sunroof tilted until the cool air displaces the hot air out of the car.

Window sun shade. A good reflective one makes a world of difference.

Not, of course, that we here in the northwest have had much use for them this year. . . .

Louvers. Definitely Louvers.

White car. Tinted windows. Park in the shade. :-)

Interesting thread... while many parts of the country have recently come to terms with "climate change" or long term heat exposure, I've been dealing with this issue for far longer.

After moving to AZ in 1979, I've now spent more than half my life in the desert. Keeping your car looking good has always been paramount to me as I tend to hang onto our vehicles for a looong time.

That said, heat, dust and ultra-violet rays are very harmful to any car. So after numerous attempts to maintain my cars in optimum condition, here is everything I've learned.

- Unending sun, high heat and dust mandate frequent washing and waxing as the sun (over time) will literally bake away the wax and paint finish. Only wash and wax in the shade never in the direct sun.

- The best possible protection against heat is a garage or covered parking. Trees tend to be a trap to lure the uninitiated. Expecting a shady reprieve from the sun, sap will ooze onto your paint and glass supplying endless hours of grief when you inevitably are faced with removing it and restoring your finish.

- The 2nd best protection is a car cover. I've used these for many, many years and understand their limitations and usefulness. Essentially they are a "sacrificial" tool that may only last about 4 years before literally disintegrating. But given the choice, I'd much rather replace a car cover then repaint my car.

- 3rd best option is window film, actually its really tie for 2nd and just as essential. The basic difference is window film primarily protects the interior while the car cover takes care of the outside.

- If you must park in the sun, try to position the car where the suns rays do not directly enter the windshield. This is especially helpful if you have window film. Since window film has better solar and hear rejection qualities let the sun hit these areas instead. You reduce the heat gain on vital controls like the steering wheel and shifter which can literally burn you. BTW, it is illegal to install window film on a windshield.

Keeping the front pointed away from (or out of) the sun also benefits "polycarbonate" headlights. Direct ultraviolet rays are primarily responsible for all those cars with "cataract" (yellow, fogged over) headlights.

Another strategy if you must park long term in the sun is try to anticipate where the sun will be later in the day with relation to your car. It is generally acknowledged that the strongest (hottest) time of the day is between 10am - 2pm (depending on geographic location). If you know this park your car positioned with the front facing east or opposite of the suns most intense rays.

- Window shades go without saying as an effective heat/ultraviolet deflector. But since they work only for the windshield, their usefulness is more limited and targeted. If you don't have or want to use a sun shade, throw a towel over the steering wheel, dash and shift lever (especially if its a manual tranny). Not as effective but better than nothing.

- If your seating surfaces are leather or vinyl, use a large, folded beach towel to sit on. If you wear shorts, you will definitely understand. Sheepskin seat covers are a nicer alternative.

- Cracking windows open about an 1"-2" has limited effectiveness. When ambient temps exceed about 100F the interior can easily rise +30 degrees and absorb and retain the heat no matter how open the windows are. The best reason for leaving them open slightly is to prevent windshields from possibly cracking, especially if there is any chips or existing cracks.

When preparing to drive off in a very hot car your goal is to purge as much heat as possible. The first thing I do is roll all the windows down (preferably before entering), opening doors help slightly.

Start the car with A/C system set to "Fresh," not "Max" or "recirculate." The last thing you want is to waste time trying to cool the superheated air inside the car. No matter how hot it is outside the inside is always hotter.

Wait about a minute or so and begin closing the windows and set the A/C to recirculate. Pull down both sun visors as low as possible to minimize sun exposure when the sun is overhead.

Lastly, don't overlook the damage long term sun/heat has on the following:
- Wiper Blade Refills
- Tires
- Batteries
- Hoses
- Belts
- Fluids
- Plastic trim

With the exception of hoses & belts I change everything once per year and I detail (wash, wax, tire dressing and vacuum) at least once per month.

Lastly, way back in 1989 a company came out with a product called "Instant Car Kooler." It was "an aerosol spray containing 10% ethyl alochol and 90% water mixed with a mint fragrance."

The effectiveness was demonstrated on a car with 122 degree interior. "Within half a minute, the thermometer had plunged 42 degrees to a more bearable 80 degrees." "...the sunshade alone reduces heat by only 10 to 15 degrees."

I never found the product to try and the only remaining information about it is this September 03, 1989, N.Y. Times article:
Spray Lowers Temperature : Aerosol Can Cools Baked Parked Cars

Almost forgot...

Remove aerosol containers from your vehicle as these could potentially explode. This might account for the "disappearance" of the "Instant Car Kooler" product...

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