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How Hot Can a Car Get in the Sun? What You Need To Know!

silver lexus car

It’s a hot summer day and you get to your car, only to realize that the interior feels like the inside of an oven! But how hot can it actually get inside your car, and how long does it take to get that hot?

The truth might surprise you, and it’s a serious reminder of why you never want to leave pets or children inside a car, on even a semi-warm day.

Keep reading as we break it all down for you. We even include tips on how you can keep your car cooler if you don’t want to deal with scorching temperatures every time you get back inside your vehicle on a hot day.divider 1

How Hot Can a Car Get in the Sun?

Toyota Hybrid Car
Photo Credit: ArtisticOperations, Pixabay

While we all know that the inside of a car gets hot when it’s sitting out in the sun, exactly how hot can it get? The answer might surprise you. Even during mild temperatures, the inside of your car can get quite toasty in a short period.

Here is a chart of the kinds of temperatures that you can expect inside your car, depending on the ambient outside temperature.

Outside Temperature (Fahrenheit)
Minutes Passed 70° F 75° F 80° F 85° F 90° F 95° F
10 89 94 99 104 109 114
20 99 104 109 114 119 124
30 104 109 114 119 124 129
40 108 113 118 123 128 133
50 111 116 121 126 131 136
60 113 118 123 128 133 138
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Why Do Cars Get Hotter Than the Outside Temperature?

It can be confusing trying to figure out why the inside of the car gets even hotter than the outside temperature.

The reason that it gets so much hotter and so quickly is the greenhouse effect. The energy from the sun has no problem passing through the windows of your car, and the interior of your car absorbs that energy.

The interior of the vehicle then releases that energy as infrared heat. But while the windows let sunlight through without an issue, infrared heat runs on a different wavelength, and it can’t escape. This creates a hotbox, and the inside temperature of your vehicle drastically raises as a result!

Interior Of_retro Car Cabin On Street car window crank
Photo Credit: Erik Mclean, Pexels

How Can I Keep My Car Cooler in the Summer?

If you’re tired of coming back to a super-hot vehicle during the summer months, there are a few things that you can do to help lower the interior temperature of your car. Here are five different tips that you can use to keep your car a bit cooler on hot summer days.

Block the Windows

Blocking your windows can help keep it cool. If you don’t let sunlight into your vehicle in the first place, you can eliminate the largest portion of the greenhouse gas effect.

You don’t have to block all the windows, as even blocking just the windshield can make a big difference. That’s the largest window that allows sunlight in, so if you block that, you can significantly slow down how hot your vehicle gets.

It’s the easiest and most effective way to keep your vehicle cool in the summer months, no matter where you live and park.

Park in the Shade

Just like sitting in the shade on a summer day will help keep you cool, if you leave your vehicle in a shaded area, that will help keep it cool too.

Remember that the sun shifts its location throughout the day, though. So, if you’re parking your vehicle before a shift at work, the shaded area will likely shift by the time that you get off. To maximize the cooling benefits, we recommend parking in an area that will be in the shade at the end of your shift, even if it isn’t shaded at the beginning.

garage interior with car
Photo Credit: studiovin, Shutterstock

Cover Your Dash

Sunlight works its way into your vehicle, then gets absorbed into the interior surfaces. If you cover some of the darker areas, like your dash and steering wheel, less sunlight will be absorbed and instead, reflected. Reflected sunlight can bounce right back out the window, which helps slow down how quickly your car will heat up.

If you can cover your dash and steering wheel with an object like a towel, they will be quite cool by the time you return!

Crack Open the Windows

Heat needs somewhere to escape, and if you keep your vehicle completely sealed, it has nowhere to go. Even leaving your windows a bit cracked open goes a long way toward giving that heat somewhere to escape to.

However, while this is an extremely effective way of lowering your vehicle’s interior temperature on warm days, you need to be careful where you use it. Leaving your vehicle’s windows cracked open makes your car far easier to break into.

metallic tinted car window
Photo Credit: Tursk Aleksandra, Shutterstock

Use a Fan

If you are in an area where you can crack open your windows, a useful tool that you can use to keep your car cool is a solar-powered fan. You can push outside air into your vehicle, or you can push the warmer air inside your vehicle out.

Either way, using a fan only works if you can leave a window cracked open. Otherwise, all you’re doing is pushing around hot air inside your vehicle, as it doesn’t have anywhere to escape to.

Does a Black Interior Make a Car Hotter?

maserati sports car
Image Credit: Mike, Piqsels

Yes! Everything that raises your car’s interior temperature above the ambient air temperature outside the car depends on the amount of sunlight that the interior absorbs. Light colors reflect more sunlight, and this reflected sunlight can escape right out the windows.

However, once the interior absorbs the sunlight, which dark colors absorb more of, it can no longer escape through the windows because it’s infrared heat. Light interiors go a long way toward keeping your vehicle from getting so hot, and it’s why covering dark interiors with something light colored can make a big difference.

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When the sun is out, the inside of your vehicle is bound to get hot. But now that you know why it happens, how quickly it happens, and a few things that you can do to slow it down, it’s up to you to decide what steps you want to take to keep your vehicle cooler in the summer!

Featured Image Credit: heggejoh, Pixabay


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