A broken AC system is every driver’s worst nightmare in the summer. When it’s hot outside, it gets even hotter inside your car. On a mild day when the outside temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures inside your car can climb up to 110 degrees F or higher after being parked in the sun for an hour or so. If outside temperatures reach 90 degrees F, your car’s interior temperature can easily spike up to 150 degrees F. Without the instant relief of AC, stepping into a car that is way over 100 degrees F inside can feel absolutely unbearable.
Not only is this extreme heat severely uncomfortable, it can also be very dangerous for pets, children, elderly individuals, and other sensitive passengers. So what should you do if your car’s AC does go out this summer? If you don’t have the time or cash to get the AC system in your car replaced right away, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer in blistering heat every time you drive your car on a hot day. Instead, check out these top five ways to survive driving this summer if your car’s AC system is broken.
1. Roll the Windows Down
Rolling down your car’s windows to cool down its interior might seem obvious, but it is a very effective solution that not enough drivers take advantage of correctly when their car’s AC is broken. It’s important to keep driving after you roll your windows down if you want your car to cool down quickly. Driving keeps air circulating and reduces the temperature of your car’s interior faster.
Be careful when rolling your windows down. Keeping your windows open when you’re traveling at high speeds can waste gas and put you at risk of getting hit by rocks or other rubble on the road. Roll your windows down when you’re driving on suburban or city streets to cool down your car. When you merge onto the highway, roll your windows back up to preserve your gas and protect your face from flying debris.
2. Invest in a Portable Air Conditioner or Cooling Fan
A portable air conditioner or cooling fan can act as an affordable temporary cooling system when your car’s AC is broken.
Buying a portable air conditioner or cooling fan is one of the most effective ways to cool down your car when your AC isn’t working, but it can be expensive. Before you invest in a portable cooling system, check with your local repair shop to determine whether portable cooling is more affordable for your vehicle than just getting your car’s original AC system replaced.
3. Get Your Windows Tinted
Tinting your car’s windows can reduce the temperature of your car’s interior by up to 45 degrees F on a hot day. Anyone who has experienced both 65-degree F weather and 110-degree F weather can understand what a significant difference that is.
Getting your car’s windows tinted isn’t super cheap, but it’s definitely more affordable than getting your entire AC system replaced. Window tinting usually costs anywhere between $100 to $200.
4. Cover Up What You Can
Covering up the interior of your car can significantly reduce its temperature. The seats, seat belts, and steering wheel of your car tend to heat up the most, especially if your car has a leather interior. Investing in affordable covers for your car’s seats, seat belts, and steering wheel can cool down your car’s interior and prevent you from burning your hands every time you try to buckle your seat belt.
You should always try to park in the shade whenever possible to keep your car cool and protect its exterior and interior from sun damage. When your car’s AC is broken, finding a shady spot to park or parking in a covered structure is especially important. If you park your car outside in the sun at home, you can also purchase an exterior car cover to use as a barrier between your car and the sun.
5. Get a Quick Fix
Malfunctioning AC doesn’t necessarily mean that your car’s entire AC system needs to be replaced. Sometimes, fixing the AC in your car just requires a quick fix that takes much less time and costs much less money.
A common problem that can cause your car’s AC to malfunction is a dirty cabin air filter. Getting your cabin air filter replaced usually doesn’t cost more than $15 to $25, and you can even replace it yourself with minimal tools and knowledge of car repair. Another quick-fix issue is a cooling fan relay that has burnt connectors or is corroded. A cooling fan relay replacement is slightly more expensive than a cabin air filter replacement–it usually costs between $80 to $150–but it’s still affordable compared to getting your car’s entire AC system replaced.