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How to Keep Your Parked Car Cool In Summer (10 Simple Tips)

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This guide will explain exactly how to keep your car cool in the summer so that you can enjoy the sun without worrying about facing a furnace when you return to your vehicle! It’s important to know these easy ways to reduce the heat inside a car to ensure maximum comfort when you depart.

You can keep a parked car cool in the summer by taking some preventative measures and being mindful of where you leave your vehicle. 

Purchase a sunshade and dashboard cover to keep your surfaces cool.  Prioritize covered or shaded parking spaces, especially when temperatures start reaching 75°F+.  It is worth investing in your car’s AC and some window tinting if you know your car is going to be spending a lot of time in the hot summer sun.

Keeping the interior of a parked car cooler in the hot summer months is important for the health and safety of both you and your vehicle.

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10 Tips To Keep Your Parked Car Cool This Summer

Covered Parking

Summer is coming, and you do not want to be caught out in the heat! Follow these simple steps:

1. Park in shaded or covered parking

Temperatures inside the car can be up to 40°F higher than outside on a hot day.  Try to find covered parking even if it costs a little extra.  If you are relying on natural shade, keep the time of day and how long you plan to be there in mind.  Parking in the shade at 10 am could mean coming back at 3 pm to a car that has been baking in the sun for 3 hours. 

We know some of you might be on a strict budget and are struggling to part with the cash to park undercover, so we’ve gone ahead and written How to Save Money on Car Parking to help you out.

2.  Use a windshield sunshade

A windscreen sunshade is one of the oldest and most well-known ways to keep your car cool in the summer.  They will reflect or absorb heat from the sun and keep the car a couple of degrees cooler.  It acts as a sort of portable shade unit.

If you’re wondering whether car covers are worth it? The answer is yes, especially if you’re car is going to be parked for a long time.

We recommend the EcoNour Car Windshield Sun Shade, as it comes in a variety of sizes, is easily stored, and is effective.

EcoNour Car Windshield Sun Shade | Reflector Sunshade Offers Ultimate Protection for Car Interior | Cool Reflective Sun Blocker Fits Small Sedans, Mini SUVs, & Hatchbacks | Medium (64×32 inches)
  • Protects Your Car Interiors: We know that the sun…
  • Superior Sun Protection: EcoNour’s Sun Shield for…
  • Easy to Use and Fold: Unlike other car windshield…

3. Open all the doors before entering the vehicle

When you get back to your car, open all the doors including the trunk, to allow all the trapped heat to escape.  Boost the AC and fan the doors to really get that hot air moving. To reduce the heat inside your vehicle faster, try moving the doors back and forth in order to increase airflow in the car interior.

4. Invest in tinted windows

If you plan on living out of your car for an extended amount of time, or you just live in an extremely hot and sunny area, tinted windows are a necessary investment.  A good tint will cool the car down 4x’s better than a window shade.  American Automobile Association has an excellent article outing window tint laws in each state.

If you don’t have any tint, it is worth purchasing Enovoe Car Window Shades for your side windows. These are a great alternative to tinting as you can just install them during the summer and remove them when they aren’t needed!

Enovoe Car Window Shades for Baby (21″x14″) – 4 Pack – Sun Shade Blocker, Cling Window Cover – Glare Shield and UV Rays Protection for Your Child – Side Window Screens for SUV- Mesh Car Window Shade
  • Absolute Sun Protection : Enovoe’s Car Window Sun…
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5. Service your air conditioning

Summer is fast approaching, and in some states, it is already in full swing.  Make sure your air conditioner is ready for the heat by giving it a full service and getting any problems fixed. 

6. Dash cover

Covering the dash reduces the heat absorbed by (and thus released by) the surfaces in your car.  It also makes the car cooler to touch when you enter, making it easier to enter and use the car on a hot day. You can find bespoke or general fit dashboard covers on Amazon, but a towel works great too.

7. Cover any leather/vinyl surfaces

Seats, steering wheel, armrests, center console, and anything that is made of leather or vinyl should be covered so you don’t burn yourself upon entering the vehicle.  Use towels or sheets to keep these surfaces covered when not in use.

8. Use a portable car cooling fan

Fix a car cooling fan to the left-hand side of the driver facing the back right to get a good cross breeze.  This works even better if you buy two fans and put the other on the front passenger’s right-hand side facing the back left seat. 

Here are the current 2 best selling portable car cooling fans on Amazon:

SaleBestseller No. 1
Zmirne Car Fan – Dual Head USB Fan for Car, Portable Vehicle Cooling Fan – Brushless Motor(2024 Upgraded) – 3 Speeds, 360° Rotation, for Car Dashboard, SUV/RV/Truck/Sedan/Cruise/Office, USB Powered
  • Cooling Car Fan for Summer – Zmirne F410 USB…
  • 2024 UPGRADED MOTOR – Zmirne F410 USB car fan uses…
  • Widely Compatible USB Fan – 5V/2A USB powered,…
Bestseller No. 2
Dealswin Car Fan for Backseat, Dual Head Hose Car Seat Fan with Led Lights, Portable USB Fan for Car, 3 Speeds and 360 Degree Rotatable Cooling Car Fans for Vehicles RV SUV Truck
  • Dual-Head Cooling, Comfort Throughout: Our…
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9. Keep valuables out of the sun

Make sure any electronics, CDs, sunglasses, and valuables are kept out of direct sun rays.  Tuck them under seats, in the glove box, trunk, or just under a blanket in the footwells. 

10.  Crack windows

This is one of the riskier options for cooling down your car as it could compromise the safety of your vehicle.  If you want to crack the windows, be sure it is narrow enough that no one could fit their arm through.  Be mindful of where you are parked, if you are in a higher crime area it probably isn’t worth the couple of degrees you gain from cracking the windows.

If you live in your car, keeping it cool when it’s parked won’t be your only parking question. If you need suggestions on places you can legally park overnight, check out our 10 places you can legally sleep and park in your car overnight post.

keeping a car cool in summer

Related Questions

What is the fastest way to cool down a hot car?

The fastest way to cool down a hot car is to roll down all the windows and fan the car doors on one side of the vehicle. Rolling down the windows allows the hot air to escape and fanning the doors on one side of the car helps push the hot air out even faster. Next, get the AC running and start closing up the car to keep that cool air in.

Does leaving your windows cracked keep a car cooler?

Leaving car windows open on a hot day allows for some fresh air and cross-ventilation to reduce the temperature in the car. Leaving windows halfway down reduces the heat in the car by 60%, but obviously leaves the car vulnerable to theft. A crack in all the windows is less vulnerable to theft but may only bring the temperature down by a few degrees.

Should you leave car windows open on a hot day?

While leaving the car windows open on a hot day can make your car cooler, it also leaves your car vulnerable to theft or vandalism. If you do want to crack the windows, make sure they aren’t low enough that someone could fit their arm through. Consider the safety of the area you are parked in and alternative options like tints and sunshades before taking the risk.

Should you park a car in direct sunlight?

You should NOT park your car in direct sunlight if you can avoid it. Direct sunlight on a car that has no tint or sunshades turns the car into a greenhouse. This means that the car will absorb heat and have no way to release it, getting hotter and hotter until you come along and open the door. Always use some type of tint or sunshade if you can’t find covered parking.

How hot does it get inside a car in the summer?

A study by Stanford University found that in summer, the inside of a car can be up to 40°F hotter than the outside temperature. This means on a comfortable summer day at 75°F, the inside of your car can reach a whopping 115°F if parked in direct sunlight without any protection.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you make a qualifying purchase, but this is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert.

Lisa Hurd Profile Image

Lisa Hurd


Lisa Hurd is a born and raised Californian currently living with her husband, daughter, and labrador in the UK. She enjoys road trips with her family and has fond memories of cross-country adventures with her 3 sisters while growing up. She loves to write about a variety of camping-related and road trip topics. In her spare time, she’s an avid reader of books. She misses the sun… send vitamin D and quality Mexican food ASAP!