How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

AIR CONDITIONING is a real saviour in the summer months when the sun is beaming through your car’s windshield. but what do you do if you don’t have aircon? Here are six tips.

UK weather: Met Office forecasts spike in temperatures

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The temperature is heating up and there will be highs of 27C around the UK this week. If you’re dreading hopping in your car in this weather, don’t worry! Motoring experts from car rental comparison site have revealed six ways motorists can stay cool behind the wheel without A/C.

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How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

Most modern cars are fitted with efficient A/C systems, but if your car isn’t so new… you probably dread the summer months.

A spokesperson from said: “Air-conditioning is standard in cars these days but there are still plenty of vehicles on our roads which lack the luxury of an efficient A/C system.

“It could be because they’re a classic motor manufactured back in the days before air-conditioning came in or it could be simply because their unit isn’t working.

“Whatever the reason if a vehicle doesn’t have air conditioning they can become unbearable on a hot day.

“It can make any journey intolerable and can leave driver and passengers feeling dehydrated and irritable – especially if traffic jams are involved.

“Travelling like this for long periods can even be dangerous, but drivers can take some simple steps to make themselves and their passengers more comfortable.”

Here are six steps to face the heat in your car this summer.

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

How to cool a car without air conditioning: If you don’t have A/C, don’t worry (Image: Getty)

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

How to cool a car without air conditioning: Leave your windows slightly open (Image: Getty)


How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

How to cool a car without air conditioning


Parking in shaded areas will help keep a car cool, so watch where you leave your car!

The experts said: “Under trees or close to tall buildings can be effective but if these are not available then a parked lorry could be just as good.

“If a car is left for some time, drivers should consider the position of the sun and give some thought to where their car will have the most shelter.”


Are you supposed to leave the windows closed or open?

The expert said: “On a hot day a car can act in a similar way to a greenhouse, with sun and heat coming into the car and being trapped, thus allowing it to get hotter and hotter.

“Leaving windows slightly open allows some of the hot air to escape, and if there’s any wind it will also help cool down the interior.”

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

How to cool a car without air conditioning: A mini fan will help (Image: Getty)

Dashboard cover

Don’t burn your hands on your steering wheel – invest in a dashboard cover to protect your car and bands.

The spokesperson advised: “A fabric or upholstered dashboard cover can protect items such as the steering wheel from the heat.

“It will also protect the sensitive vinyl from cracking and fading.”


Solar-powered mini-fans can be purchased online for as little as £5 each, and they really help.

Mini fans are great as they use the sun to cool the car and you.

Air conditioning is one of those modern marvels most of us have grown used to by now—perhaps too used to. Believe it or not, people survived in the days before reliable, widely-available aircon, and you can, too. Here’s our guide on how to embrace the sweaty life without dying.

Sometimes you have no other choice. My old crapcan Nissan Altima ate head gaskets like candy, and it would automatically switch off the air conditioner when it started to overheat. Unfortunately, that was my only car at the time and I spent far too many late summer days in triple-digit heat before my parents and I figured out the problem.

Yet some of the best cars I’ve ever driven either left the air conditioner out to save weight, or the HVAC system just plain didn’t work . Drive these anyway! I’ve had more fun driving around my Porsche 944 race car lately than anything else, and that sucker’s aircon parts were sold off in the name of “adding lightness” years ago.

Likewise, the Baja Beetle that codriver Dusty Ventures and I borrowed for the inaugural LeMons Rally didn’t have air conditioning, either. We made it all the way across Death Valley in August heat—while my codriver had a stomach bug that turned the rally into The Great Bathroom Tour of the Southwest, no less—without a single source of artificial coolness along the way.

Learn from my gallons and gallons of previous butt sweat, and make your peace with summer driving once and for all.

Accept That You Will Sweat

You’re going to sweat. Lots. The amount you’ll sweat depends on a variety of factors like humidity, temperature and your own body’s tolerances for such, but let’s not make any excuses here. You will bathe from head-to-toe in an all-encompassing briny mist of your own gross body-juice.

If you have a choice of cars, maybe your 1930s project truck isn’t the best choice for when it’s 95 degrees and muggy and you have to look presentable for work. But if you don’t have a choice, dress accordingly.

Don’t straighten your hair if you know it will only frizz back up at the slightest bit of perspiration. Avoid that shirt that makes your armpit sweat far too noticeable to the rest of the universe—and then never dries out. Wear something cool for your own sake and make sure it will still look okay with some perspiration on it.

But accept that you will sweat. Love it. Cherish it. My Altima’s air conditioning went out right around the time Top Gear played a game called “ Car Sauna ”—which is exactly what it sounds like.

I can’t recommend playing “Car Sauna” because it sounds like an exceedingly dumb way to go to the emergency room. I mean, it’s either that or lose, and I won’t lose. Yet as a person who enjoys saunas, envisioning the car as a rolling sauna somehow helped me cope with an aircon-less summer. People pay good money to sweat this much, and this junkyard-bound piece of crap is giving it to me for free! That’s a deal.

Hydrate Early And Often

Now that you’re comfortable with the idea of being in a rolling sweatbox, you need to feed the sweat. Dehydration is one of the biggest risks in a car with no air conditioning, and you need to remember to drink water before, during and after your time in the car.

Does your pee look more like maple syrup? Well-hydrated pee is more clear than yellow, so that’s one of the easiest to spot signs that you’re dehydrated.

Alternately, follow your thirst. If your mouth feels like you just ate a fistful of sawdust, you’re not drinking enough water. And yes, we mean water. Cokes won’t help you as much here. Salty snacks or sports drinks can sometimes help you retain a bit more water, but you’ve still got to drink regular, plain water around those.

If you don’t feel like you’re going to float away when you get in the car, you probably should have drank more water. Take some with you just in case—even a gross warm bottle of water from under the seat is better than nothing.

Crack A Window

I hate getting blasted with air through an open car window, but nothing heats up as insanely fast as an enclosed car in the summer heat. Sorry! You need to let some outside air flow in the cabin to cool things off so you don’t die.

If you have an air conditioner that’s not working right, sometimes you can briefly get away with just running the HVAC system’s fan to create much-needed airflow inside the car. This always sort of helps for a little while, but once the car warms up, the fan starts to spit warm air back at you even though it’s not set to heat the car.

So, like it or not, you need to open the window and let the inevitably cooler outside air into the car. A good compromise is to merely crack the window. Let some airflow in, but don’t let so much in that it whips your sweat-soaked mass of frizzy hair back into your mouth.

The only issue with this is that it can be deceptively warm inside a car even with the windows cracked. I once didn’t realize how hot it was inside a Porsche 924S with broken aircon until I realized I’d left something in the backseat. I opened the door back up only a moment after I got out of the car and it was like getting kicked in the face with a thick mass of armpit funk. Gross.

As with hydration, you have to pay closer attention than usual to how you feel. If merely having cracked windows feels too hot, it’s best to just open your window up all the way and let the outside air blast in. Your hair will be blown to smithereens, but the inside of your car will be infinitely more tolerable and you won’t pass out behind the wheel from the heat. That’s a pretty fair trade-off, all things considered. Bring a hair tie if you’ve got long hair, and the biggest sunglasses you can find.

Cold, hard facts about AC and how to make it work for you

Your car’s air conditioning system is going to get a workout trying to stave off the broiling effects of summer heat. Opening the windows may save a little gas, but for true comfort, you want to turn on the air conditioning and let it lower the humidity. Anyone can simply pick temperature setting. But there is an art to truly mastering the chill.

For that, the engineers at the CR Auto Testing Center have some handy tips to help you cool your car faster while burning less fuel.

1. Don’t Precool

Your car air conditioning works much better when you’re actually driving because the faster the engine turns, the faster the AC compressor runs, which lets the system cool more effectively. Don’t waste time and gas by letting your car run before you go.

When you start driving, turn on the air conditioner and open all the windows for 10 to 20 seconds. Even on the hottest days, the air inside the car will be much hotter than the outside air. You might think you’re wasting the cooling from the air conditioner. But it will take that long for the AC to start cooling, so you’ll actually be helping it cool the interior.

2. Go Low

Setting to the lowest temp and adjusting the fan makes the car air conditioning more efficient, will dry out the air less, and can actually save some fuel. Why is that? In a typical AC system, the air is cooled to 38 degrees. If you set the temp higher, you’re actually forcing the system to reheat the cooled air, which takes more effort and more fuel.

3. Don’t Recirculate

If you have passengers in the back seat, consider turning off the recirculation mode. This takes air from the front of the cabin and pulls it back through the system, so even though everyone up front stays cool, the air in the back can get stale and hot.

4. Turn Off Stop/Start

If you’ve got a newer car that has an auto start/stop system, consider turning it off. This feature saves fuel, but for many cars it can keep the car air conditioning compressor from running when it shuts the engine off. In very hot weather, you can begin to notice the lack of cool air very quickly, especially if you’re stuck at a lengthy stoplight or in stop-and-go traffic that’s barely moving.

5. Make Sure Your Filter Is Clean

Next time you get the chance, check your cabin air filter to make sure it’s clean. A dirty filter prevents optimal airflow. In newer cars, these filters are relatively easy to check; if you see a lot of dirt accumulated on it, it’s time to change it. You can save money if you can replace the filter yourself. In many modern cars, the filter is accessible behind the glove compartment.

Bonus: Automatic Climate Control

If you have automatic climate control, lowering the temp doesn’t make the car cool off faster. Most systems will do all the fan and temp adjustments automatically, so you can just set it and forget it.

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

Every day, pet owners are in situations where their pet needs to stay safely in the car. You love your pet and want to take her everywhere with you.

Perhaps you are running an errand (or several), and your precious pug is along for the ride, but isn’t allowed inside the business.

Or maybe you are going somewhere with your pet and need to have her with you:

  • A vet visit
  • A trip to the groomer’s
  • A drive over to the pet sitter’s
  • A visit to the dog park
  • Or a day at the lake or river for a raucous Saturday afternoon swim

There are a zillion reasons why you might have your dog in your car at any given time.

And with that there are times she will sit. in a parking lot, with the doors locked.

. And the windows just cracked open for a “little” air movement.

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

We’ve all seen news reports and photos of dogs trapped in a car on a hot day, sometimes leading to their untimely demise.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the temperature inside your vehicle can rise nearly 30 degrees in 20 minutes, leaving your car’s interior at nearly 120 degrees on a 90 degree day. This level of heat creates extreme risk for serious illness or death if your pet spends much time in the car at these temperatures.

That is the last thing you want to happen to the furriest member of your family. It’s important to take precautionary measures against overheating, when you leave your dog in your car or truck.

You may be a truck driver.

. and you take your toy poodle with you over the road.

Your sweet dog is your furry companion, keeping you company on the many miles between loads. Your trucking company allows your dog to ride as a team driver. However, you frequently run into situations where pets aren’t permitted to get out of your rig.

Maybe dogs aren’t allowed at loading docks. Perhaps animals can’t be outside of your vehicle when in the delivery area.

But she can’t stay cool while cooped up inside the cab from Maine to Miami because of idling laws.

How are you supposed to make sure your dog stays safe in your big rig? When it comes to transporting your pup from place to place, you need a backup plan to ensure she is safe:

– Dog kennel – Check.

– Comfy bed- Check.

– Doggie dish for water and food- Check.

– Chew toys- Check.

– Pet air conditioner just for Tootsie. What??

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

IcyBreeze comes with pet-safe decals (upon request) along with the IcyBreeze air conditioning cooler. When affixed to your window passersby will recognize that your pet is truly safe and sound, leaving you and your pet in peace.

Welcome to the world of IcyBreeze

A place where you can create a safe and economical, cool spot in your cab environment for your pet, while your vehicle is off and locked.

By placing our entirely portable, battery-powered pet air conditioner in the seat or cargo area of your vehicle. So you can keep your pet cool and happy, while taking care of business.

The IcyBreeze provides a steady stream of cool air that will keep your pet comfortable in the vehicle when it’s not running.

How IcyBreeze Operates

IcyBreeze is the world’s first and only truly portable combination cooler and air conditioner.

It allows you to keep your dog cool using nothing more than an ice chest filled with ice and water along with cooling technology built into the lid.

Battery-powered and 100 percent portable.

Start by using your IcyBreeze device as a cooler, filling it up with chilled snacks, beverages and plenty of ice. When you are ready to put the chill on your dog, just add a little water, and turn on the circulating fan. The chilled water will run through the attached radiator, creating an instant blast of cool air.

  • You do not have to leave your car running for IcyBreeze to operate. It runs off of a rechargeable battery that is built into the unit. Choose between three speeds—low, medium and high—when you want to blow cold air to keep your pet cool.
  • The cold air flows through the vent, or you can use the attached flexi-hose for more direct cool currents.
  • Exactly how cool is Icy Breeze air? IcyBreeze air is up to 35 degrees colder than the surrounding air temperature.

Eco-Friendly Air Conditioning for Dogs

Using IcyBreeze you are able to keep your dog cool inside your locked car without worries. This unit is environmentally friendly and eco-safe thanks to zero use of dangerous refrigerants, such as Freon. We even use recycled plastics whenever possible in the construction of our IcyBreeze units.

A/C On the Go

You aren’t stuck with plug-ins and car battery-powered portable air conditioners. All you need is a couple quarts of water, some ice and the built-in rechargeable battery pack with the IcyBreeze. Best for smaller spaces and close quarters, such as in your car, the idea of this pet air conditioner is perfect for pet owners on the go.

Now that you understand how to keep your furry friends cool and comfortable, while at your side for errands and outdoor adventures, give IcyBreeze a go. This portable pet air conditioner will be your pet’s best friend.

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Every car runs into maintenance problems sooner or later. But, as the universe doesn’t seem to care what time of year it is, you may find yourself without air conditioning in your car during the summer months. Whether your car’s A/C has been broken for ages or it just went out this past week, there are a few ways you can keep cool during the summer even without air conditioning in your car.

3 ways to stay cool without air conditioning in your car

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

Roll the windows down

This may seem like the most obvious piece of advice, but rolling your windows down while you drive isn’t the only way to cool down the cabin. When you park your car, if you feel comfortable doing so, roll down your windows before you get out. This will help prevent your car from trapping unnecessary heat inside, making it easier to cool the cabin down when you get back in. When you’re in the car and moving, try to drive with the fans off and the windows down. There’s no use in trying to use the A/C if it’s only blowing hot air into your car.

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

Cover the seats

If you have leather seats, sitting down in shorts during the summer can be a real pain in the you-know-what. Keep a towel, blanket, or another piece of fabric in the car with you to cover the seats. This way, you won’t burn your legs when you sit down and you can avoid the gross, sweaty mess that comes from sitting on hot leather seats.

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

Bring a water bottle

The temperature inside a hot car can skyrocket within a matter of minutes. Just because it’s only 85 degrees outside doesn’t mean it’s 85 degrees inside your car. If you climb into a hot car after work and you don’t have air conditioning, you may be spending your 30-minute commute home in a 120-degree car. Bring a (preferably cold) water bottle with you to stay hydrated and keep yourself from overheating.

The News Wheel is a digital auto magazine providing readers with a fresh perspective on the latest car news. We’re located in the heart of America (Dayton, Ohio) and our goal is to deliver an entertaining and informative perspective on what’s trending in the automotive world. See more articles from The News Wheel.

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

Marius Hepp/Getty Images

Some argue that air conditioning is one of our greatest inventions. Stuffy, hot, and humid rooms that were once unbearable are now places that are pleasant to work in. There’s no question that air conditioning in RVs is a valuable resource; those metal boxes can heat up quickly in the sun. When you also consider that desert areas are some of your favorite places to take your RV, air conditioning is essential in those climates.

Like anything else you rely on in life, air conditioners break down and or you may not even own one on your ride. What can you do to keep cool? Here’s how to keep an RV cool without air conditioning.

3 Things to Do to Keep It Cool When RVing Without Air Conditioning

Keep the Air Flowing

You’ve probably thought about opening windows, but randomly opening windows can only do so much. The idea is to create a direct flow of air through the RV. Try to figure out which way the wind is blowing and open the corresponding windows to form a continuous stream of air. Even better if the windows on opposite sides are higher and lower as this will create suction on the air.

Pro Tip: Use fans, if possible, to force air out of your RV to help keep it cool if you have the windows open. All a fan does is circulate air, it doesn’t make you cooler, so put those fans to good use and let it suck out the warm air to cool you down.

Keep the Heat Off

Avoid any activities inside the RV that can create extra heat. Try to avoid cooking of course but also try not to use appliances that will generate their heat such as dishwashers, clothes dryers, and others. That load of laundry can wait for the colder night or morning. If you’re staying at an RV park or campground, such as KOAs, that often have appliances to use, use them instead of your own to beat the heat.

Pro Tip: Grill meals outside to keep heat from getting trapped in your RV or trailer. Grilling food makes it taste better, and you’ll stay a bit cooler than being caught cooking in your rig.

Keep the Sun Out

You can take a proactive stance and try to keep the heat off your RV in the first place. This can include getting solar shields for your windows and windshield. You can typically find window shields at any RV supply store or many auto parts stores. These shields will reflect solar heat rather than allow the RV to absorb and store it.

Awnings are another way to keep the heat out in the first place. Awnings are a fantastic way to expand your patio area around the RV, and they also protect a large chunk of your RV from the harsh sun. Either way, you look at, awnings are a pretty good investment to make for your RV.

Pro Tip: If your RV doesn’t have awnings, you can invest in a canopy if you have the storage space for it. Even a small canopy, or a makeshift one with a tarp and poles, can help keep you cool during a sizzling summer day.

Make Your Air Conditioning with an RV Swamp Cooler

You can construct an AC unit, or swamp cooler, to help keep the RV cool and not only is it easy, but you likely have all the materials on hand already.

Here’s what you need to create an RV swamp cooler:

  • Large Styrofoam cooler
  • Plastic cups
  • A knife
  • Ice bucket and ice
  • Standard fan

Here’s how to make a basic RV swamp cooler:

  • Cut a large circular hole on the cooler’s lid that the fan will be able to fit it onto. The fan should be able to rest on this hole without knocking the cooler over if your cooler is big enough you may be able to make this hole in the side.
  • Punch three to four holes in the side of the cooler the size of your plastic cups. Cut out the bottom of your plastic cups and insert them into the holes to act as vents.
  • Fill the cooler up with the coldest ice you can find (dry ice if you have access to it), you can put it in an ice bucket inside the cooler if you wish.
  • Check to make sure all fits are tight, and everything is sealed correctly.
  • Turn on the fan, point the cup vents in whatever direction you want.

No one likes feeling hot and sticky, even more so when you’re inside of an RV without air conditioning. Use these helpful tips to keep yourself cool when your air conditioning is on the fritz or when you find yourself in a sudden heat wave without a unit. Here’s to cool and comfortable travels no matter your destination.

How to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

By Kristen Rogers, CNN

(CNN) — If you’re one of the more than 20 million people experiencing the Northwest heat wave, you might be wondering how to stay cool, particularly if you don’t have air conditioning — or don’t want to run it constantly.

US cities and Canada have been reporting their hottest temperatures, some of which are still rising above 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you don’t yet feel comfortable going to a pool or air-conditioned public facility at this point of the pandemic, there are ways to feel comfortable without cranking the air conditioning unit or going without. Here are more than 12 methods for cooling your body and buffering your house from the outside heat.

Stay hydrated

When you’re hot and flushed, hydrating yourself is the first and foremost step to cooling down, said Wendell Porter, a senior lecturer in agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Florida.

The temperature of the water doesn’t matter since your body will heat it, he added. If your body is suffering from the heat and needs to cool itself, it can’t do that without enough moisture, since thebody cools itself by sweating.

Take a cold shower or bath

Taking a cold shower or bath helps cool your body by lowering your core temperature, Porter said.

For an extra cool blast, try peppermint soap. The menthol in peppermint oil activates brain receptors that tell your bodysomething you’re eating or feeling is cold.

Use cold washrags on your neck or wrists

Place a cold washrag or ice bags (packs)on your wrists or drape it around your neck to cool your body. These pulse points are areas where blood vessels are close to the skin, so you’ll cool down more quickly.

Use box fans

Place box fans facing out of the windows of rooms you’re spending time in to blow out hot air and replace it with cold air inside.

If the weather in your area tends to fall between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the mornings and evenings, opening the windows on both sides of the house during those times can facilitate a cross-flow ventilation system. If you do this, you can opt to use or not use the fans, but the fans would help cool the house faster, Porter said.The outdoors can pull the hot air from your home, leaving a cooler temperature or bringing in the breeze. Just be sure to close windowsas the sun comes out, then open them when the weather is cool again.

You might not typically leave windows openfor safety reasons, but if you’re at home more anyway due to the pandemic, this method could be feasible, Porter said.

Just resting near a fan would reduce your body temperature as well.

Close your curtains or blinds

If you have windows that face the sun’s direction in the morning through afternoon, close the curtains or blinds over them to “keep the sun from coming directly into the house and heating up (the) inside,” Porter said.

You could also install blackout curtains to insulate the room and reduce temperature increases that would happen during the day.

If you do turn the air conditioning on, don’t setit below 70 degrees Fahrenheit in an effort to cool the house faster, said Samantha Hall, managing director of Spaces Alive, a design research company helping to create healthy, sustainable buildings.

“It just runs for longer to reach that temp and will keep going until you start to feel a bit chilly and is then hard to balance,” she added. Instead, keep the unit temperature as high as possible while still comfortable.

Sleep in breathable linens

Cotton is one of the most breathable materials, so cotton sheets or blankets could help keep you cool through the night.

The lower the thread count of the cotton, the more breathable it is, Porter said. That’s because higher thread counts have more weaving per square inch.

Sleep in the basement

If you can’t sleep through the night because you’re too hot, try sleeping somewhere besides your bedroom, if that’s an option. Heat rises, so if you have a lower or basement level in your home, set up a temporary sleeping area there to experience cooler temperatures at night.

Don’t refrigerate or freeze blankets or clothing

Common advice for staying cool without air conditioning includes refrigerating or freezing wet socks, blankets or clothing then ringing them outto wear while you sleep. But this isn’t a good idea, Porter said.

“The amount of energy they can absorb from your body that night, they will be warm in just a matter of minutes,” he said. “And then you’d have damp stuff that would mold your mattress. So you definitely don’t want to do that.”

Close the doors of unused rooms

If no one’s using a room that doesn’t have vents or registers, close the door to that areato keep the cool air confined to only occupied areas of the house.

Use the exhaust fan in your kitchen and/or bathroom

Flip the switch for the exhaust fan in your kitchen to pull hot air that rises after you cook or in your bathroom to draw out steam after you shower.

Install energy-efficient light bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs generate a higher temperature than LED light bulbs do. To make the switch, watch for sales on energy-efficient bulbs, then slowly replace the bulbs in your house, Porter said.

Switching light bulbs can save money but won’t reduce a lot of heat in the home, Hall said. However, if you focus on switching the bulbs in areas you’re sitting near, that would make a more noticeable difference, Porter said.

Cook in the morning, with a slow cooker or outside

Oven heat can spread throughout your house. Keep the heat centralized in one area, such as a slow cooker. Or, cook outdoorson a grill to keep the heat outside.

Enjoy frozen treats

Eating an ice pop or ice cream to cool down may help for a moment. But don’t go overboard on the sugar if you’re overheated or at risk of being overheated, Porter said.

“Sugar would run your metabolism up and you’d start feeling internally hot,” he said. “So the cool treat might be good, but the extra sugar might not.”

Research what your state offers

If you’ve tried everything and still can’t beat the heat at home, you could look online for any local programs that are offering ductless air conditioners.

Depending on your state, some cooling centers — air-conditioned public facilities where people might go for relief during extremely hot weather — may be open and taking precautions to ensure they’re as safe as possible. You could start by checking with your local utility offices, as they would know who is offering certain programs, Porter recommended.

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If you live where summers are hot, you know when your air conditioning isn’t working. Sometimes it stops operating entirely, but other times AC can become weaker day by day until you realize it’s at full blast and you’re still sweating. There’s a number of reasons why you might find your car AC blowing air that isn’t cold, and some are an easy fix while others are more complex. Understanding the components of the AC system and checking for the typical issues can help you identify potential problems and ultimately get your AC system functioning as it should again.

Low RefrigerantHow to cool yourself in a car without air conditioning

Air conditioners (much like refrigerators) operate by pumping a substance called refrigerant through metal tubes. The refrigerant boils and turns to gas at ambient temperatures, absorbing heat from the air — similar to how rubbing alcohol evaporates off your skin at room temperature, making it feel cool. Fans then push the cool air into your cabin.

Over time air conditioning systems lose their refrigerant charge. This can happen in a closed system, or it can be due to a leak. If the system is simply low, it’s an easy fix to add refrigerant, and you can purchase and recharge it yourself at any NAPA Auto Parts store. However, if your system is leaking, you have to find and seal the leak. This is more difficult, and it requires special tools, such as dye and leak detectors.

When you’re recharging or repairing your AC system, you must always take safety precautions, as refrigerant is highly toxic to humans and the environment.

Condenser Issues

Your vehicle’s AC condenser, which looks like a small radiator, is the coil system through which the refrigerant flows. If the condenser (or really any part of the system) is clogged, the refrigerant won’t flow, which will prevent the cooling that would otherwise result from the refrigerant evaporating into a gas. A fan blows over the condenser to assist the process, so if debris or an electrical problem prevents the fans from operating, this will also cause problems.

Compressor Issues

Your AC compressor is the pump that keeps refrigerant moving through the system. Without it, you lose your cool air. Identify the compressor under the hood (driven by the serpentine belt with other components in the front of the engine), and listen to hear the clutch “click” on and off while the car is running. If it’s not coming on at all, it may be broken or not receiving power. If it’s kicking on and off rapidly, it might be low on refrigerant.

Blend Door

The blend door directs hot air from your engine into your passenger compartment. If it becomes stuck, you’ll get no cold air, even if your other AC components are working. This problem can be a little difficult to diagnose because the blend door is located far back in and under the dash, a very tough area to reach. Try to listen to hear if the door is shutting, or access it and manually shut it to see if that makes a difference.

Any of the issues involving electrical components could be as simple as a blown fuse, so always start there. AC problems often require more in-depth diagnostics, extensive disassembly and specialized tools, so don’t hesitate to call a professional if you’re left scratching your head. The information here, however, can help you at least get an idea of what’s going wrong before you pay big money at a garage for a complex issue. Whether or not you trust your mechanic, it’s always best to go into any repair situation with some knowledge.

Check out all the air conditioning products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on car AC, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.