Family Car Advice: Keeping A Hot Car Cool

July 22, 2011

With much of the country baking in a strong summer heat wave, a road trip in the family car may not seem all that appealing. You can keep your cool when driving this summer, however, by following these tips:

Start early in the day. It may mean getting up earlier and getting on the road before you’ve intended, but starting the family road trip in the early morning is your best chance to put some miles behind you before the heat climbs to dangerous levels. How early should you set out? Right at sun-up may be a good choice. You’ll have enough daylight to see where you’re going and the air will still be relatively cool.

Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. When you’re going on a family road trip, being comfortable and escaping the heat is more important than wearing your recently-purchased travel duds. The best recommendation is to wear light-colored clothing that fits loosely. Skip the tight jeans and belts that make it hard to breathe.

Drink lots of water. The old saying that you can never drink too much water may not always be true, but it’s a safe bet that when you’re traveling in the car during the heat of summer, water is the best fluid you can drink. It keeps you hydrated and helps keep the body’s core temperature down. Avoid coffee and any beverages with caffeine. These are prime culprits causing dehydration.

Use your vehicle’s air conditioning. If you’ve taken care of preventive maintenance and made sure your car’s air conditioning system is working properly, use it while you’re on the road. Don’t be tempted to crack the windows to save using the A/C. Not only will you be wasting gas, you’ll also cause the temperature inside the car to climb rapidly from the overheated air outside. Another bonus to using the air conditioning is that it’s easier for children to sleep when they’re not sweaty and cranky.

Never leave kids or pets alone in a closed, parked car. It’s never okay to leave your children or pets alone in the closed and parked car. In just minutes, the car’s temperature can climb to dangerous levels. And children’s bodies are more susceptible to heat than an adult’s.

Take special care with young children and the elderly. Young children and the elderly need extra attention during the hot weather. Those adults with high blood pressure can quickly get dizzy in a car that’s too hot.

If there’s a choice, choose a light-colored car.  If there’s more than one car in the family, and you have a choice, opt to drive the lighter-colored one on the trip. Or you can rent a light-colored vehicle instead. If the family will fly and then drive using a rental car, again, choose the white or silver model. Dark colors trap the heat, while light colors are a little better at keeping it out.

Make frequent stops. Time your drive so that you can stop frequently and give the family time to stretch their legs, have a bite to eat, use the restroom and enjoy a break from the trip.

Park in the shade whenever possible. When you’re pulling over to stop, look for the shadiest spot you can find to park the car. This will minimize the heat accumulation from direct sun rays and be a little more pleasant when you return to the car with the family.

Buy inexpensive windshield shades. If you don’t already have them, make the purchase of an inexpensive set of windshield shades. Remember, the idea is to keep the sun’s rays out as much as possible. This will also keep the steering wheel and controls from blistering your hands when you get back in the car.

Pre-start and pre-cool the car. If you have remote start, pre-start the car and pre-cool it for about five minutes before you resume your trip. Just this little bit of extra cooling will make a big difference in the family’s overall comfort.

Break up the trip into smaller drives. If your trip will be a long one, break it up into smaller drives. While the temptation is always to cram as many miles into a day as possible, this just makes for too much time in the car for all concerned. Maybe choose a closer destination or add more days to your trip.

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