Cooling off a Hot Car

Archived Q&A and Reviews

How to keep the car cool? Son hates hot cars

April 2006

Our son HATES hot cars. We have tinted the windows (also to minimize exposure to UVs) but a car left in the sun still gets hot. (This assumes that it ever stops raining...) We use sun blocks over the windshield, a towel over the car seat... When you absolutely can't park in the shade, what can keep the car cool? I remember seeing advertisements for solar vents that fit in the top inch of the car window. Do they work? Where do you buy them? Any other great ideas? thanks, ann

Google ''solar vents cool car'' and take your choice. Lots of options out there.
Someone I used to know had an Audi A8 with a ''hot weather package.'' I think it had a solar collector integrated with the sunroof, which powered the interior fan when the car was parked. Not sure whether it worked very well, or even if it's still available, but it seemed like a neat idea! -J
You don't say how old your son is, but hot cars are just something that happens in life! Here are my recommendations to make it better: Open the doors and windows for a while to let the hot air escape, then turn on the car, and run the A/C for a few minutes before getting in. In places like Arizona and Las Vegas, they sell systems for your car which let you turn on the A/C remotely. You could also get a whole car cover. anon
I crack my windows open a couple of inches when I am leaving the car rather than rolling them up tightly. My car can't be unlocked with a coat hanger or anything short of an arm with actual fingers on it, so this works great for me.
I am almost sure I have seen a product through Sharper Image or that catalog they have on planes (I'm blanking on the name but everyone seems to know what it is). It fits into your window (roll down the window, place the item, then roll up the window to lock it in.) It is solar powered and acts as a ventilation fan to suck the hot air out. Hopefully this gives you enough to go on to do an internet search for it! sympathize with your son
I used a solar vent over a year ago when I drove an old car with an over-heated engine and no air conditioning. The car would have been oven hot if I parked in the sun without using the vent. It really made the car cooler (or tolerably warm).

The vent has a solar panel on one side and a small fan on the other, and can easily be fitted at any window, with the solar panel side facing the sun and a rubber strip sealing off the rest of the window opening. You also need to remember to roll down a window on the opposite side just a couple of inches to keep the air flow.

My friend bought the solar car vent for me a couple of years ago at Sharper Image. It worked well for a few months, and then the fan would somtimes stop as if it couldn't draw current from the solar panel system. I don't think it was a common problem with solar vents, just something wrong with the one I had. I don't think Sharper Image carry them any more, but I'm sure you can find one somewhere else. Good luck. Chris

How to cool off the car before putting baby in?

June 2004

My son hates getting into the car when it's hot. A lot. Years ago I saw an advertisement for a solar-powered fan that you put in the car window to keep it cool. Has anyone had experience with the solar-powered fan? If it's worthwhile, where can I find one? How about the car seat covers? I've seen car seat covers that are supposed to keep the car seat cool -- but then the car is still hot, which is more the problem, I think. The car seat doesn't seem that hot - it's just hot in the car. The sun shields for the windshield seem like they won't really help when the sun is beating down on the car. Am I wrong? Any advice would be appreciated, including where to buy recommended items. I looked in the ''traveling with kids'' section of the Advice area but found nothing. thanks, anne

I can relate to your ''hot car'' delimma because my three year old loves dresses so occasionally when her bare legs make contact with a car seat that's been baking in the sun, she gets very upset. Here's what I do:
1. On warm days we hang flannel blankets from the passenger side windows which stay in place by rolling the window up with them wedged inside. This is an extremely effective sun blocker while the car is sitting in the hot sun. It helps to ensure that the metal seat belt for my older son and the car seat buckle for my youngest won't burn their skin.
2. A few minutes before I'm ready to get into the car, I go out, start the engine, and blast the air conditioner with the windows open. It doesn't cool the car completely but at least you aren't getting into something that feels like a blast furnace! Sharon
I have a fan like that, it does not cool the car just recirculates the air so it does not get so stuffy (if the air outside was cool it would cool the car but then the car wouldn't be so hot in the first place). it was pricey - $30. I got it from a catalogue though I can't remember which one at the moment. it and a sun visor plus leaving the windows open a crack do improve the hot stuffy car thing but I'm not sure the fan was really worth what I paid for it. anon
I don't know if this would work well enough for you, but my son also objects to entering a hot car! . So we go around and open all the doors, and let it air out for a minute or so before we get in. In the Oakland/ Berkeley area anyway, that usually removes the intense heat that he (and I, quite frankly) find objectionable. On the rare occasion when we're in, say, Walnut Creek, it's obviously much less effective... but we still manage. Karen