Here in Yuma, we all know the summer heat can be intense. On the day this is being written, the forecast is for 114 degrees this afternoon! This is an area of the country where air conditioning is more of a “must have” than a convenience.
When your car has been parked in the sun, interior dashboard temperatures can be as high as 192 degrees (the average is 157 degrees), the steering wheel average is 127 degrees, and car seats reach an average of 123 degrees according to a study by ASU and UC San Diego.* In the summer, that’s just a fact of life here in Yuma.
So, what is the fastest way to cool down your vehicle’s interior? Interestingly enough, start out with the a/c blower on low for the first 30 seconds, be sure the a/c is set to “recirculate”, and partially roll down the windows on one side as you drive away.
Two things happen when you do so. First, with the blower on low, the cooling coils in the a/c system will have time to cool down faster and, as you begin to drive with the windows partially down on one side, a fair portion of the extremely hot interior air will circulate out the windows. After about 30 seconds, turn the blower on high to get maximum air flow and then roll the windows up. It will still take a bit to cool the interior but those two little things will help the vehicle’s a/c system do so more quickly.
The most important thing to remember is to always have water in the car. Stick a bottle of water in the car somewhere and leave it there in case of an emergency. The water might not be pleasantly cool but if you break down, you will be very happy to have it on hand.
Know where your spare tire, jack, and tools are located. You’d be surprised how many people are not sure. You do not want to be reading the owner’s manual in 110 degree heat to find out. Having a pair of leather gloves in the car for such an incident as a flat tire is also highly recommended.
If your car overheats, do not pull over and open the radiator cap to check the coolant. Wait for at least 20 minutes and then squeeze the upper radiator hose. If it is soft, it is probably safe to open the cooling system. If it is firm and hard, it is not safe. Always turn the radiator cap just partially, perhaps a half turn. There will be a stop to keep the cap on in case of boiling coolant rolling out of the system. This can help prevent scalding burns. If after a few seconds there is no coolant escaping the cap, it is safe to rotate it all the way and remove the radiator cap for inspection.
Always remember, safety first, and never leave pets or children in a parked car, especially here in Yuma!
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