The Australian summer reaches sizzling temperatures – according the Bureau of Meteorology, daytime temperatures during these months can reach a tyre-melting 40 degrees, rarely dropping below 32 in certain areas. Driving under such scalding rays can be both uncomfortable and dangerous, especially over long distances, so it is important to take precautions if setting out on the highway under the sweltering Australian sun.

In the first in this series of two articles, we will focus on keeping yourself cool, with car care to follow. 

Park in the shade

An oldie, but goodie, and for excellent reason. Getting into a car that has been parked in direct sunlight for as little as even 30 minutes is a feeling that most have experienced, and not many enjoy. Take a few extra moments to explore your parking area, looking for a spot under a tree with heavy foliage or the shadow of a large building. You'll find your car at a much more bearable temperature when you return to it. 

If such a cool spot doesn't exist, there are still ways to make your vehicle's hellish internal temperature subside without whacking on the A/C. Open all the doors possible, as you'll expel all of the hot air that has collected inside the car via the insulating glass windows. After a few minutes, the car will be much cooler.   

Bottoms up

The automatic reaction of many drivers upon entering a hot vehicle is to open the windows so that the upper body is cooled. What they forget is that heat rises, meaning that there is likely a collection of hot air still circling in the lower reaches of your vehicle.

Close the upper vents, so that only the lower ones are in use, and turn the fan up to full power. This way, you'll push the remaining hot air from the vehicle out through the open windows. When the last of the air is expelled, you may switch to the upper vents to maintain your new-found coolness.

A/C decent

It's important to remember the difference between the 'fresh air' symbol of the air-con and the recirculation setting. Make sure that when you first get into your car that you use fresh air drawn from outside, as recirculated air will simply be the same hot air taken from the interior of the vehicle. Once the car has reached a desirable temperature, switch to recirculation to maintain that constant. 

Extra tips

  • Place towels over seats and steering wheels, especially if they are leather. Sometimes your upholstery can get so hot they'll cause burns, and the towel method will reduce contact temperature.
  • Be vigilant around metal belt buckles – they get extremely hot in direct sunlight.
  • Buy a solar-powered fan – they aren't expensive, cost nothing to run and can keep you feeling refreshed under even the hottest of rays.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated – bring bottles of water for yourself and whoever else is travelling with you. The more, the better.