Buried in BMW’s iDrive system is a feature that you can activate to cool down air in the car quickly on hot days. Parked Car Ventilation lives up to its name: It turns on ventilation fans that cool the air in the car’s interior when the car is parked and turned off.
I discovered this ventilation system feature while test-driving the 2013 3 Series. Parked Car Ventilation allows you to set a time to begin cooling off the car’s interior air without rolling down the windows. It also can be turned on when you get into the car; the vent fans stay on for about 30 minutes.
But does it work? It does, said Thomas Plucinsky, BMW North America’s product and technology communications manager. “The interior of the car can be up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the exterior temperature due to sun load. Using the blower fans, Parked Car Ventilation will reduce the temperature inside the car to roughly the ambient exterior temperature.”
The ventilation system feature isn’t new to BMW or the industry. Toyota’s Prius has an optional solar-paneled roof that can power a fan to cool the cabin — saving on the fuel it uses to cool the Prius. BMW’s Parked Car Ventilation feature is all about keeping drivers happy by cooling the car with the ventilation fans.
“It also helps the air-conditioning system cool the vehicle more quickly once it has been started,” Plucinsky said. “It doesn’t need to overcome the sun-heated interior temperature.” Even though this auto feature has been around for a while, it’s only available on BMWs equipped with the iDrive multimedia system. IDrive was standard on my test car.
I like this feature for obvious reasons. Coming back to the car after a hot day at the zoo or park with two kids can be torturous when you get in a stiflingly hot car. Yes, I roll down the windows to vent the heat from the vehicle. Yes, I have water. But what would be even better is if the car’s interior wasn’t so hot and cooled even quicker from there.
Considering Parked Car Ventilation wasn’t even listed on my test car’s Monroney, it was a pleasant, under-the-radar surprise. Unlike many options, it’s something everyone in the car can appreciate.