Is your car feeling a little hotter than normal? At first, you might be thinking, “Oh, the AC just hasn’t had a chance to get going.” Or, “The car was so hot to start with — it just hasn’t circulated properly.” But then, as you drive down the road, you really start to sweat. Because, yep, it’s just circulating hot air. Before you get hot under the collar, here’s what to do when your AC is broken.

1. Roll down the windows

Well, duh, right? But you might be worried that having the windows down can be a (literal) drag on your gas mileage. Fret not. The good folks at a variety of places, like, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Society of Automotive Engineers all agree: AC uses more gas than having the window down. So go ahead and let the cool air in. And sock away the savings to fix that AC!

2. Equip your car

Start with a towel to cool your leather seats. Then add a window shade and a cover for your steering wheel. Bonus: both can help protect your interior from sun damage. You can also try securing a portable fan on the dash.

3. Empty it out

Heat can cause certain products to melt or go bad … especially if your AC’s on the fritz. So now’s a good time to remove things like water bottles, makeup, and sunscreen.

4. Park smart

If you can, park in the shade — like in a garage or under a tree. If you can’t find shade, park facing away from direct sun. And be careful when getting back in. Seat buckles, in particular, can get scorching hot during the summer months.

5. Chill out

Try draping an ice pack around your shoulders. If it’s too cold, put it on top of your clothing or wrap the ice pack in paper towels.

6. Never ever (ever!) leave a pet or kid in the car

Of course, you shouldn’t do that even if your AC does work. Cars heat up far faster than you’d think. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, temps can rise 20 degrees in only 10 minutes, even with the windows cracked.

If you have to run errands, it’s best to leave the pooch at home. And if you have to take the kiddos along for the ride, bring them in the store with you — it’ll more than likely have a working AC. 

7. Get it repaired

Stop by your mechanic and get an estimate on what it might cost to get your AC fixed. It might just need a new refrigerant charge. And the repairs may end up being cheaper than having to replenish the ice box with refreshments on the reg.

While you’re at it, make sure you and your ride are properly covered. Emergency roadside service, for instance, can be a lifesaver, like if the issue causes your car to breakdown on the side of the road. So get a free quote from Esurance today — and find out how we’re making this whole insurance thing surprisingly painless.

DIY hacks | For your car


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.