Air-con hacks – the alternatives to having your car air-conditioning serviced

Air conditioning unit blowing cold air into car cabin

Car air-conditioning needs regular servicing to perform at its best. But why do you need air-conditioning in the first place? If yours isn’t working, you can always perform one of these handy air-con hacks in an effort to stay cool in-car.

Air-con hacks: the wet rag trick

Soak a couple of old flannels or some torn up rags in cold water. Ring them out and use a peg to clip them onto the air vents. Air that blows through them will have the heat taken out of it.

Cons: The rags will dry out quite quickly and lose effectiveness, plus they’ll make your car look like a down-market laundry.

Car air con system blowing cool air thanks to some unusual car hacks

Air-con hacks: the damp hair trick

Wash your hair then don’t bother drying it before you get in the car on a hot day. Just as hats are very effective at keeping you warm on a cold day, so the water evaporating from the hair next to your scalp will keep you cool when the weather’s warm.

Cons: If your hair needs blow drying to look its best, you could arrive at your destination looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge.

Air-con hacks: the drive when it’s cooler trick

The cooler the air outside, the cooler you’ll be in your car. So if you choose to drive at points in the day when the weather’s not so warm, you may not notice that your air-con isn’t working.

Cons: You might be reduced to traveling at fairly antisocial hours of the day. Your boss or the other half might struggle to be understanding.

Frozen water bottle lying on desk with white background

Air-con hacks: the freezing bottle trick

Take an empty 500ml mineral water bottle fill it three quarters full with water and put it in the freezer. Then when you want to go for a drive, take your frozen bottle with you. The idea is that you put it between your neck and the top of the seat. The condensation from the ice will help to cool you down.

Cons: The more the ice melts, the more condensation there’ll be. It might keep you cool but chances are you’ll arrive at your destination with a soaking wet collar.

Air-con hacks: the lower vents only trick

Switch the ventilation system so that air only blows through the lower vents. As heat rises, having cooler air blowing through lower vents will push the hot air up where it can escape through the open windows.

Cons: As with putting the windows down, the effect will be barely noticeable if the air temperature outside isn’t that much different to that in the car. And there’s every chance you’ll end up with icy feet and a sweaty top half.

Happy passenger with head of our the window driving along highway on sunny day

Air-con hacks: putting the windows down

It’s simple: all you need to do is lower the windows. As you drive along the air rushing in will keep the ambient temperature inside the car bearable.

Cons: When it’s really warm outside, putting the windows down will have a negligible effect on how warm it is inside the car. And the faster you drive, the less comfortable it becomes in the car.

Air-con hacks: get tinted glass

Keeping sunlight out of your car will prevent it getting hot in the first place. There are lots of companies offering aftermarket window tinting. However, the law states that windscreens must let in 75 per cent of light; front side windows 70 per cent. And neither of these is very tinted at all.

Cons: If you have the rear windows tinted too heavily passengers will feel like they’re travelling inside a bin liner.

Alternatively, just get your air-conditioning serviced…

The vast majority of cars on the road now have air-conditioning. But for it to work effectively, it needs to be serviced every two or three years.

Find a garage that can keep your air-con in tip top shape here. It will guarantee you don’t have to go to any of the lengths above to stay cool this summer.

Mandy Weston

Mandy is an ex-mechanic, with 22 years’ experience in the motor industry. As an in-house motoring expert, Mandy is the go-to woman for any relevant questions that our customers have; both garages and drivers. From specific problems with your car to general maintenance, Mandy is a reliable source of information and advice. Her passion for motoring is a huge factor to her success and the huge wealth of knowledge that she has. She now uses her remarkable grasp of the industry to write regular content for our readers to help drivers understand their car better, avoid being ripped off by garages and save money on their motoring requirements.