It’s hot outside, but even hotter inside a car. On a 90-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can quickly rise another 20 degrees in just the first 10 minutes. We all know the deadly consequences of leaving children or pets in a hot car. But in everyday driving, just getting in your car after it’s been parked in the sun for a while can be uncomfortable and has the potential to cause burns. Here are some tips on how to prepare for driving in the summer heat.
When parking, reducing the amount of sunlight coming in through the windows can minimize heat buildup inside the cabin:
- Park in the shade if possible.
- If you need to park in sunlight and you have a sunroof, close the shade.
- Put a sunshade in the windshield and another over the rear seat window, especially if you’ll be carrying children in car seats. Folding-type shades are easy to store while driving.
- If you’re parking in a secure area and there won’t be any rain, lower each window an inch or two. If you have a sunroof, you can leave it in the tilt position to provide extra ventilation.
When getting into your car, be careful not to burn yourself on hot surfaces:
- Open the windows for the first few minutes to let buildup heat escape.
- Bring a towel to sit on if you’re wearing shorts and have leather or vinyl seats.
- Be careful when buckling up to not touch the metal part of the seatbelt as you can burn yourself.
- Keep a light pair of gloves in the car if you find the steering wheel too hot to handle.
Driving in hot weather presents unique challenges for passengers and pets:
- If carrying children or pets in the backseat, bring plenty of water and snacks, and plan to stop more often to tend to them.
- Remember that the rear seat and cargo areas in SUVs, wagons, and minivans can be considerably warmer than the front-seat area. If you’re carrying passengers back there, and there are no backseat temperature controls, adjust the front a/c vents so they direct air to the rear.
- If you’re headed to the store, bring a cooler bag to keep frozen items from melting or defrosting before you get home.
- Keep in mind that high temperatures can mean power outages, which means that any gas stations that are affected could be out of service. Filling up in the morning will help you be ready for the unexpected.
For more advice on summer road travel, see our guide.