Summer is easy to love. It’s the time of year for outdoor activities, and even when it’s a little hot, it can be beautiful and enjoyable. But there’s nothing fun about getting into a hot car. Exposed metal such as seatbelt buckles or dash trim can actually burn your skin. It can even be dangerous to try and drive while trying to avoid a proper grip on a too-hot-to-handle steering wheel.
However, with a few simple tricks, you can improve the safety and comfort of your car, even after it has been fully grilled by the sun.
1. Quickly expel the hot air with the “door slam trick“
This is a physics hack that leverages the fact that hot air rises above cooler air. Just open one of your car windows and open and close a door on the opposite side of the car. The air will quickly exchange so that most of the hot air leaves the car and the car is instead filled with air that is of the outside, ambient temperature.
2. Spread a few drops of water on hot surfaces you need to touch, like your steering wheel
This is another physics hack, this time leveraging two principles: 1. the ability of liquid, which is denser than gas, to quickly transfer heat, and 2. the tendency of the evaporation of a liquid to absorb surrounding heat, thereby cooling what it’s touching. Just sprinkle a couple of drops of water (your own sweat will do, in a pinch) on the steering wheel or other surface, gently spread it around, and let it evaporate. Doing this a few times should make any steering wheel less punishing to touch.
3. A standard reflective shade and cracked windows
If you know that it isn’t going to rain, and would still like to keep your car as cool as possible under direct summer sunlight, it’s tough to beat the standard method of just using a reflective shade under your windshield, and very slightly open windows. This reflects a lot of the direct-light heat absorption, while letting all of the interior air of the car flow and exchange with the ambient air outside. This works because as fast as your car might heat up, it’s cooling off nearly as quickly. This is especially effective if your windows are tinted and if there is a breeze blowing.