10 smart hacks to keep a car cool this summer

- Leave your car exposed to the sun for long enough and it'll be unbearably hot when you return. Here's how you can beat the heat.

Thanks to the advances made in driver and passenger comfort, these days we never have to worry about getting uncomfortably hot during a car journey, no matter how extreme the weather is. Models like Hyundai’s New Generation i30 Wagon come with air conditioning as standard, meaning that the air ventilating your car comes through significantly cooler than the temperature outside, keeping the interior a pleasant place to be at all times.

However, when our vehicles are left unattended and the air conditioning isn’t active, on a hot summer’s day the temperature inside can become almost unbearable. We’ve all experienced the discomfort of returning to a car that’s been parked unsheltered and exposed to the sunlight, opening the door and being hit by wall of scorched air that’s been cooking away inside. At this point you either have the choice of enduring the heat for a few minutes, before the air conditioning cools things down, or leaving the doors open and waiting for the car to cool naturally.

Fortunately, scenarios like this can be avoided with relative ease. Thanks to the following hacks, you’ll never have to sit an unbearably hot car ever again.

You can use more than just air conditioning to keep your car cool

1. Use a windscreen sunshade

To stop your car’s windscreen acting as giant magnifying glass for the sun’s rays, put a sunshade across it if you’re parking for anything longer than 15 minutes. Make sure you get one made of silvery material that reflects the heat, and ideally have separate ones for the side windows and rear windscreen too.

2. Open your sunroof

To get a little scientific, remember that hot air rises. If your car has a sunroof, there isn't a more efficient way to let any built-up heat escape from the cabin than to open it. The optional panoramic sunroof in Hyundai’s New Generation i30 opens 30 percent wider than the previous model, meaning that any hot air trapped inside will escape even faster than before.

3. Park in shade

If there’s a space available that offers shelter away from the sun – perhaps under a tree or close to a high wall or solid fence – be sure to take it. Of course, the sun moves across the sky during the day, so make sure the space will remain sheltered for the duration you are parked there. If it isn’t possible to park in shade, turn your car around so that most of the sunlight falls on the rear end. This way you won’t have to contend with a too-hot-to-touch steering wheel and solar-powered heated seats when you get back to it.

4. Use a blanket

Speaking of scorching hot steering wheels, another way to keep it and other controls such as the gear stick and the handbrake cool is to spread a blanket or thicker piece of material over the top of them. The blanket should absorb any heat from the sun, and can be taken off and folded away in seconds when no longer required.

Cover your car's controls with a blanket to shield them from the sun

5. Invest in cool gel pad

Even if you’ve managed to keep your seats from overheating, on a humid day your body temperature alone can create some pretty clammy and sweaty conditions on longer drives. To cool yourself down, invest in a couple of gel pads – one to sit on and one to put behind your back – that create a cool, dry sensation and form a barrier between you and the seat.

6. Ventilated seats

If you want to save yourself the hassle of having to shop around for gel pads, Hyundai’s IONIQ and Tucson and Santa Fe SUVs have optional ventilated front seats that cool your body down. Their integrated seat cooling fans provide crisp, cooling air ventilation in hot, humid weather and ensure you’ll arrive at your destination as fresh as the moment you left.

7. Use bottom vents only

When returning to a baking-hot car, as well as opening the windows to let the hot air out, speed it on its way by setting your air conditioning to maximum strength and closing the upper vents, so that it only blows through the vents closest to the floor. Because heat rises, the hot air is pushed out from below and your car gets cooler quicker.

8. Use air re-circulation

Alternatively, if your car's air conditioning has an air re-circulation button, use it for several minutes when you first get into a hot car. It will cool the vehicle's interior down much faster than using the air from outside being pulled into the cabin. Be sure to deactivate air re-circulation once the inside is cool enough, though.

9. Freeze water in a bottle

If you’ve looked at the weather forecast the night before and seen that the following day is going to be sweltering, you know you’re going to need water to stay hydrated on a long drive. Another great 2-in-1 solution would therefore be to fill some plastic bottles with water and leave in your freezer overnight; before you set off, wrap them in a towel or cloth and secrete around your body and other comfortable, secure places to cool you down as you drive. When the water has melted, drink it.

10. Dress down

If you are driving to work or a formal event, travel in light, baggy and short clothes, then change into smarter attire when you’ve reached your destination. Also, don’t wear dark clothes in the car, as they absorb heat. Instead, choose something white or off-white that deflects it.

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