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Summer of 2019: How to beat the heat in your car?

Aditya Chatterjee  | Updated: May 02, 2019, 05:10 PM IST

It's the summer of 2019 and going by the manner in which the heat wave is travelling across the country, these surely are not the best days of the year. However, it is not that we can stop ourselves from venturing out for our daily commute to the office, shopping mall or even a weekend getaway. The only feature that works overtime in the car to counter the heat outside, is the car's air-conditioning which consumes maximum energy compared to any other function in a vehicle. However, if used wisely, it can result in quick and effective cooling of the cabin in lesser time with lesser fuel consumption and more importantly, a decline in the carbon emissions. Here are the different ways of beating the heat in your car.

1) Make sure you park your vehicle in an area that has shade on top, to avoid the cabin from being exposed to direct sunlight. In that case, the air-conditioning unit has to work for a longer duration, thereby consuming more fuel, to cool the cabin uniformly. However, if one cannot avoid parking the car under the sun, make sure the glasses have a heat reflective film with a light tint. Please note that use of dark sun films is strictly prohibited as the apex court ruling states that the interiors of cars should be clearly visible from outside through both, front and rear windshields.

2) Some people prefer to pre-cool the cabin before they actually start to drive for added comfort. This is not an effective or an efficient process considering the fact that the air-conditioner compressor works in tandem with the engine which means the AC compressor will work faster when the engine is running faster. If the car has been exposed to sunlight for a longer duration, the AC fan should be adjusted to max speed and the rear windows have to be lowered to let the hot air out of the cabin. If the front windows are lowered, in this case, it will only help letting out the hot air from the front, leaving the rear section hot and unpleasant.

3) If you have occupants seated on the rear seats, switching off the recirculation mode is advisable, if the vehicle does not come with rear air-conditioner vents. As this would let the cool air be circulated from the front to the rear and not just get released and drawn back into the  vents in the front, cooling only the first row occupants.

4) One has to make sure the air filter is checked periodically and also cleaned from time to time to clear any type of clogging due to dirt accumulation. In case an air-filter is left unchecked and is dirty, it will affect the AC cooling with an uneven distribution of air flow. The AC air filter is often located at a convenient spot inside the dashboard that can be accessed by removing the glove box cover. Before experimenting with this, make sure you refer to the owner's manual of your vehicle and find the location of the air filter.

5) Many new-gen vehicles come equipped with auto start/stop ignition system which does reduce the fuel consumption in traffic. However, it also cuts off the AC compressor when the ignition is switched off. This affects the cabin's cooling as the air-conditioning unit takes more time when the vehicle is stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions. One should keep the start/stop system off while manoeuvring through long signals and other conditions where the vehicles are barely moving.

6) If your vehicle is equipped with automatic climate control, you need not worry about adjusting the fan speed and the AC temperature, as the system does it automatically. Lastly, if you have been driving with the air-conditioner on and are about to reach your destination, it is advisable to switch off the air-conditioning and not the fan to continue the flow of cool air without using the compressor, resulting in an efficient working. We recommend a thorough check of the air-conditioner unit in this season to make sure the condition of hoses, belts and coolant levels are perfect.

7) If your vehicle to prone to being exposed to direct sunlight, having leather seats is not advisable. The reason being leather tends to absorb heat instantly unlike fabric seats. While ventilated seats are considered as one of the options to counter it, the harsh conditions in India are too punishing for the leather seats to do anything. Also, one must make sure that plastic bottles or anything made of plastic is not left in the cabin for it might lead to releasing of harmful and poisonous gases in the cabin. And Lastly, avoid filling up the fuel tank to the maximum in summers for the fuel tends to expand due to heat.

Also read,

Here's how the air conditioning system in an electric car works

Simple Tech: Air conditioning and ozone explained

Summer special: How much does your car's AC affect fuel efficiency and performance?"

Summer special: Staying cool on a motorcycle

Summer special: Does leaving the sunroof shade open, affect your AC's performance?

Then and now: When ACs were not common in cars

Ultimate Indian automobile AC test: The testing parameters

How does air-conditioning work in electric cars?

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