The weather is warming up, and millions of winter-weary drivers are starting to sweat in their cars—their car air conditioner stopped blowing cold air. When people get sweaty, they tend to do some crazy stuff: window units added to the sides of cars, a fan and a bag of ice mounted in front of the driver’s seat, creative use of hamster tubing… we’ve seen it all.
In an effort to help you avoid a hefty repair bill from a mechanic, we’ve come up with some ways to help you stay cool in your car without air conditioning (if you aren’t into doing it the easy way).
1. Move. (To Antarctica.)
Some places (Arizona, Florida, Hades, etc.) are persistently hot in the summer. Others, not so much.
Take Antarctica, for example, where an all-time record low of 136 degrees below zero was recorded in 2010—in mid-August. That is the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere, but with an average temperature of about 70 below and an all-time high of just 58 degrees, you’ll never need to turn on an A/C again.
Pros: No traffic; very little crime; cheap real estate.
Cons: It’s COLD. If your heater breaks down, you’ll freeze to death. Also, penguins.
2. Fill the back seat with ice.
Instead of moving to Antarctica, you can bring a bit of the ice shelf to you.
Air conditioners are sometimes measured in “tons,” which literally refers to the equivalent cooling power of a ton of ice melting over a 24-hour period. The cooling power of car A/C systems vary, but it’s not unusual for them to have more than one ton of cooling capacity (or 12,000 btu). So one ton of ice each day should do the trick. If you buy in bulk, five tons of ice will cover your work week for less than $75.
Pros: It’s basic and it would seem to work (we haven’t tried it).
Cons: 2,000 pounds of ice in your back seat will severely affect your car’s acceleration, braking, handling, gas mileage, and carpool passengers. It will bottom out your suspension and might just break your frame in half. Plus, when it melts, you’ll have 250 gallons of water sloshing around inside the cabin. [squish]
3. Gain altitude.
The higher you go, the colder the air gets. That’s why tall mountains have snow-capped peaks, and why World War II airmen had to wear “bomber jackets” to keep from freezing.
On average, the air temperature decreases by 3.5 degrees for every 1,000 feet you go up. So, even on the hottest day, getting about 10,000 feet off the ground will leave you cool as a cucumber.
To get your car that high in the atmosphere, all you need is a sufficiently large airship, like this one.
Pros: You’ll be high above any traffic problems. In fact, you could spend your commute reporting on traffic problems for the local radio station.
Cons: Airships are notoriously hard to control, especially in windy conditions. They don’t move all that fast. They are hard to park, and they require a really, really big garage: the Goodyear Airdock is more than 1,000 feet long, 300 feet wide, and 200 feet high.
Afraid of heights? Try going down instead.
20 feet below the ground, the temperature stays at a constant 50-60 degrees day and night, summer and winter. It’s why caves are cool, and how geothermal heat pumps save energy. Dig a tunnel at that depth, and your broken A/C will be a non-issue.
Pros: Besides the cool air, tunneling is a good skill to develop in case you ever find yourself wrongfully imprisoned or held in a POW camp, Great Escape-style.
Cons: Time. Let’s say you have a 10-mile commute, and can dig your car-sized tunnel at a rate of 10 feet per day. You won’t just be late to work, you’ll be over 14 years late to work. You’ll probably no longer have a job, and there’s a good chance your friends and family will have moved on—which means you’ll have to start all over again.
5. Wear Iron Man armor.
Ever wonder how Iron Man’s Tony Stark stays cool when encased in metal and firing rockets out of his feet?
Clearly, his high-tech armored suits come fully loaded with personal climate control. It won’t matter if your car A/C doesn’t work. It won’t even matter if the car itself doesn’t work; you could carry the car to work with you.
Pros: Uses clean energy; excellent self- (or world-) defense capabilities; comes in candy-apple red.
Cons: Other than a likely multi-million-dollar price tag, we don’t have any cons. A powered armor suit would be awesome.
6. Become a camel.
Some animals deal well with hot temperatures. The camel is a prime example, surviving comfortably in the world’s hottest deserts. The secret’s in the hump: all of a camel’s fat reserves are stored in its hump, leaving the rest of its body nearly fat-free. No fat means no insulation and therefore easier cooling.
Pros: In the middle of each week, you can stroll around the office and proudly proclaim what day it is.
Cons: Though you’ll technically be thin, having a hump on your back isn’t generally considered that attractive, even at Notre Dame. Plus, you’d have to figure out how to become a camel.
7. Travel through time.
In an iconic scene from the first Back to the Future movie, a modified DeLorean time-travels one minute into the future—and immediately becomes encrusted in ice because the process somehow super-cools its stainless steel exterior. Apparently, traveling through time is an extremely effective way to cool down your car fast.
Pros: Besides staying cool, you’ll never have to worry about being late to work again. You can even sleep in ‘til noon and still make it in time for your 8 a.m. meeting. Plus, if you’re not concerned about temporal paradoxes, you can totally go back and delete that embarassing photo before it gets posted to Facebook.
Cons: It requires a lot of power (1.21 gigawatts!), which can only reliably be produced by cold fusion or a plutonium reactor. That kind of stuff is hard to come by, even in 1985. Plus, other forms of time travel (Doctor Who, Bill and Ted, Star Trek IV: Save the Whales, etc.) don’t seem to have this cooling effect, so it may not be reliable information.
Clearly, these ideas are ridiculous, but so are some of the real-life things we’ve seen people try. And none of them really work. The truth is, the only good way to cool down your car is to get your air conditioner working again.
The good news is that in most cases, you can get your A/C blowing cold air again with one can of A/C Pro. It takes less than 15 minutes and costs less than bulk ice (and much less than a mechanic’s shop). And it’s a really easy fix that anyone can do.
You can find A/C Pro at any of these retail stores near you. Watch step-by-step instructions in this short video, and if you have any questions, just reach out.