Yes, and here’s how to stop it.

High and extreme temperatures can lead to car damage. It’s that simple. Although auto manufacturers do test for extreme hot and cold temperatures, your car still can’t sit directly under a hot sun all day without getting at least some damage. In fact, some types of sun damage can even become safety issues if not addressed.

If you live in a hot climate or experience high temperatures in the summer, it’s important to be aware of potential heat damage to your car so that you can take preventative measures. 

Here’s everything you should know about how high temperatures can damage your car, and what you can do about it.

Types of car damage caused by heat and sun

Strong temperatures can impact many parts of your car, both cosmetic and functional, internal and external. Overall, it’s not a good idea to leave your car in the heat, but if you must, pay special attention to these parts of your car.

Tires

Heat can have a big effect on your tires in two main ways: tire pressure changes, and rubber damage. Research shows that increased temperatures can change the internal pressure of your tires significantly, causing them to inflate more than they should. In excess, this extra inflation can cause your tire to blow out completely. 

Extreme heat and sun over time can also degrade the rubber your tires are made of, causing them to become dry and even crack. 

Headlights

Sun damaged headlights will become cloudy or foggy looking, which is more than just a cosmetic issue (although it doesn’t look great). These foggy headlights can decrease driver visibility by up to 80%, which could contribute to car accidents. The first signs of this type of damage can also show up as a yellow-ish tint.

Car battery

Battery problems are the worst, and there’s a reason they are more common during the summer months. In fact, according to AAA, they responded to 1.8 million battery related calls during the summer of 2018. Excessive heat causes internal corrosion, and even leads to protective battery fluids evaporating. These heat damaged batteries can lead to persistent dead car batteries that need a jump, or a completely damaged battery that needs replacing.

Engine oil

Engine oil keeps the internal workings of your car properly lubricated, to reduce friction. It’s where the old saying comes from, “like a well oiled machine.” Extreme temperatures can cause your engine oil to thin out, which potentially causes engine damage.

Tips to prevent heat damage to your car

It’s easy to opine about avoiding heat, but if you live in a hot climate, it’s not always that simple. When you need to drive for work, errands, and life in a high-heat environment, you can’t just “avoid the sun.” Instead, consider these practical tips.

Window and windshield shades

The interior of your car, especially leather seats, can also fall victim to sun damage. Plus, it’s no fun to open your car door to what feels like an oven. Windshield and window shades are relatively cheap, and at least offer some protection.

Park in the shade as much as possible

Easier said than done, right? But given how heat can really cause car damage, it’s worth it—even if that means you have to walk a little extra. 

Look for parking under trees, or search Google Maps for nearby parking garages close to your destination. If you hate walking in the sun, you can even carry an umbrella with you to offset the extra steps you might take in the heat. It’ll be worth it to avoid a dead battery or blown out tire.

Get regular oil changes

High temperatures mean more oil changes, and there’s no way around it. Add it to your calendar and find an oil change place that’s convenient for you to make it easier. It’s inconvenient, but important.

Check your tire pressure

Get in the habit of checking your tire pressure often. Some car dashboards will have that information for you, or you can buy an inexpensive tire pressure sensor to keep with you in the car.

Maintain your headlights

Keep an eye out for cloudy, foggy, or yellowing headlights, and keep them clean to help prevent damage. If you notice your headlights are already foggy, you can consider a professional restoration or DIY option.

The bottom line on heat damage

Preventing heat damage to your car is more than just a cosmetic or auto-hobbyist venture. It’s important for driver safety. As an added bonus, you’ll save money on costly repairs by investing a smaller amount in regular maintenance and smart habits. When the temperatures rise, our attention should too.

Veronica Camara
Veronica is an independent content strategist, writer, and speaker, partnering with global brands and agencies to solve complex content challenges. Prior to consulting work, she was an in-house content strategist at Charles Schwab. She is currently living in sunny Playa del Carmen, Mexico and works remotely with clients across the USA and Canada.

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    9 Comments

    1. Every environment provides it’s own challenges for keeping a car in good shape. If it’s not the heat, it’s the cold, or salt on the road, or sandy abrasion in the desert.

    2. so hot in florida !

      1. With a name like that, I thought you lived in Texas.

    3. Used to have a car that had tires that went haywire in the heat. #SofloLyfe

    4. This is really helpful as I try to avoid the shade to keep my car clean, but to prevent damage parking in the shade is definitely worth it.

    5. Living in a hot climate causes many parts on your car to wear out very quickly. Extreme heat means oil changes need to occur more regularly and your wiper blades do not last as long.

    6. It’s really important to keep up with oil changes and wiper changes in hot climates. It’s really hot in Fla, so we feel it.

    7. I never thought about this. I mean it makes sense, but, for lack of better words, it sucks. I don’t take care of my current car as much as I should. But it will be getting some love soon. This made me think to take shaded parking into consideration when looking for my next home. Very good read!

    8. It’s amazing how quickly the sun will cause your headlights to fade.

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