Living Without Car Air-conditioning: Is it Possible?

Turning on Car Air-Conditioning
A few years ago, I braved a Texas summer sans car air-conditioning. It was, as you may have assumed, utterly miserable. Air-conditioning can be VERY expensive to repair, depending on the extent of the damage, and I wasn’t willing to invest that much in a vehicle I planned to only have for another year or so. This turned me into the living without A/C  pro, and I’ll give you a few of my top tips here.

Figure Out What’s Wrong Before You Give Up

Some reasons that car air-conditioning stops working, or stops blowing cold air, are as simple as changing or replacing a small hose or tube. You may even just have a clogged tube somewhere that needs to be cleaned. Take your car in and have it inspected at a place you trust. Once you know the problem, you may be able to fix it yourself on the cheap, or work out a deal with your repair shop to have it done for just a little more. Unfortunately, my A/C was beyond a quick fix, so I was forced to get a little crafty.

Walk & Carpool When You Can

Even in Texas, we have a breeze during the summer, which beats sweating it out in the car. Sitting in your car can make the heat even worse, especially with no air blowing. Walk to places near you and plan your time accordingly. If it takes you 5 minutes to drive to work, plan to take a 20 minute walk.
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You’ll also be surprised how friends will come forward to give you a lift. If it’s not too far out of their way, a friend or coworker can easily swing by to pick you up. It also helps that this is a temporary problem, and you’ll only need help for a couple of months.

Drive at Night or Early in the Morning

If you know the grocery store is open until 10 pm, give yourself a little shopping time and get there at 9 pm. Picking times to be in your car where the sun isn’t present, or it hasn’t gotten to the hottest point of the day yet, will help cool you down. Arrive to work an hour earlier than usual if you can. This also keeps you out of traffic, which is more time you’d have to spend in a hot car.

Figure Out What Still Works

If your car vents can still blow air, turn up the volume and leave your windows down. Keeping a mister with a few ice cubes in it to spray yourself, and the breeze from the window might fool you into being comfortable for a longer ride.

Treat Driving Like a Workout

Anything you’d bring in a gym bag to freshen up or change before you go to work, you’ll need in your vehicle. Like working out, being stuck in a hot car makes you sweat. Use your best judgement on preparedness, depending on how long the drive is and wear light colored clothing in the car, to keep from absorbing more heat. Check out our bike to work blog for ideas on what to pack for a work refresh.

Don’t Forget the Sunblock

Cars are already known for their lack of UV protection, but having your windows rolled down can put you at an even greater risk for a sunburn. Be sure to use SPF 30 or above that’s labeled “Broad Spectrum.” This advice is for the short-term. If your car air-conditioning goes out on your older vehicle, and it’s too expensive to fix, consider selling it. We’ll give you an offer and tow it for free.  

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