How To Protect Car From Sun and Heat: 13 Simple Tips

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luxury car parked in direct sunlight, illustration

Sun is one of the worst enemies of car exterior and interior. You should do your best to protect your car from sun and heat, and in this post, I’ll show you 13 simple steps to do it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sun’s UV rays and heat will cause your car to wear over time if left unprotected.
  • Car paint protectants such as waxes, sealants, ceramic coatings, or PPFs are very important to prevent the sun from damaging car paint.
  • Applying interior dressings, leather conditioners, plastic restorers, and tire dressings helps to fight UV rays and heat.
  • Hiding your car from direct sunlight whenever possible is crucial to prevent damage.
  • Darker car colors usually attract more sun and should be avoided if this is your main concern.

13 Tips To Protect Your Car From Sun

Try to follow as many tips as possible, even though I know it’s impossible to follow every single tip. I’m a car geek, and I can’t always follow these tips, but I try to stick to them as much as possible.

1. Regularly Wash Your Car

Washing your car helps to get rid of debris, minerals, and dead bugs. Minerals and dead bugs react to the sun’s high heat and will cause your paint to fade.

So, keeping your car clean will surely help you with protecting the car from the sun. This is the most basic tip that everyone should do, no matter how hot it is there.

2. Apply Paint Protectants To Your Car

Paint protectants are the best way to prevent damage from sun and heat. Together with that, they’ll also make your car look shinier.

Depending on your preferences and budget, you can choose between these paint protectants:

  • Waxes
  • Sealants
  • Ceramic coatings
  • Paint protection films

I sorted them from the cheapest to the most expensive option.

3. Protect the Headlights

Headlights are also largely affected by UV rays. With time, they’ll become oxidized, yellowed, and cloudy, and driving with such headlights reduces your visibility, affecting the safety of you and the passengers in the car.

Headlights on brand-new cars often come with some kind of protection, but they only last for a couple of years. That’s why I always suggest that you apply headlight protection by yourself. Here’s my guide on protecting car headlights from UV rays, so feel free to check that out.

4. Protect Plastic Trim

Plastic parts on the car exterior are very sensitive to UV rays and heat. They could fade in just a few years if not protected well. That’s because most plastic parts don’t have any form of protection, and they’re exposed to weather conditions all the time.

TriNova UV Protectant Spray - for Vinyl, Plastic, Rubber, Fiberglass, Leather & More - Prevents...
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If you apply dressings to plastics around your car, the sun’s UV rays and heat won’t have so much effect on them. I regularly apply plastic restorers on the plastic trim of my car, and after using so many products, TriNova UV Protectant Spray (above) feels the best to me. It seals, restores, and protects all plastic parts.

5. Regularly Condition Car Tires

Sun causes tires to wear and tear quickly, and that’s why you should regularly apply tire conditioners. I like to do it whenever I’m washing my car, which is every 10 to 15 days.

I’ve had the best experience with Gyeon Q2 Tire Dressing, and I suggest it to all of you. It offers great protection, it’s easy to apply and lasts much longer than most other tire conditioners on the market.

6. Apply Car Interior Protectants

Even though the car exterior is exposed to the sun the most, the car interior usually has the highest temperatures during sunny days. Sun will heat up the whole car, but that heat will stay inside the car for a long time and may cause some damage if you don’t use protection.

Just typical car valeting (Vacuuming and wiping) won’t give any protection from UV rays and heat. Dashboard and leather seats are exposed to sun and heat the most, and you should always use interior protectants to keep those areas shielded all the time.

Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner & Protectant is a great All-in-one product you can use on all interior surfaces. This product protects the dashboard, leather seats, vinyl, rubber, and many more interior surfaces.

7. Park The Car In Shade

Finding a shade to park your car is the best option if you don’t have a garage. Try to avoid open parking places. I know that it’s sometimes hard to find a free parking spot in a shadow, especially if you live in a large city. However, don’t hesitate to spend five more minutes and find a cooler spot to park your car.

However, don’t just park under the tree because all the tree sap will end up on your car, which is again bad. I always try to find some building or compound that will create shade on my car.

8. Slightly Open Car Windows

If you have your own parking spot, always open windows a few inches during the hot sunny days. That way, all the excess heat from the car will go out, and your car will stay cooler.

I live in a very safe town where there aren’t many criminals, so I’m not afraid to leave my car with opened windows (2-3 inches only) in any location.

9. Use Windshield Protectors and Install Window Films

Windshield protectors and window sunshades are great products to keep the sun away from entering your car. 

  • A windshield protector is made of a material that will reflect the sun’s rays. That way, the car will stay cooler, and UV rays won’t damage so much of the interior.
  • Window sunshades will only reduce the sun’s UV rays and heat entering the car. During sunny days, you can always have them mounted to your windows.

If you want the ultimate protection, think about installing window films (paint protection films). PPFs have fantastic immunity to sun and heat, and they’ll reflect most of the harmful UV rays, keeping the car interior cooler.

10. Check Tire Pressure Frequently

Overinflated or underinflated car tires are more susceptible to damage from the sun. You should regularly check car tire pressure and inflate tires according to the car’s specs.

Because of the sun and high temperatures, pressure in tires may vary a lot, so it’s important to keep the pressure optimized for your vehicle.

11. Check Coolant Before Summer

I suggest that you check your coolant before every summer season. That way, you’ll know that your car is good to go and has ideal cooling properties.

You should check two things:

  • Coolant level (should be on Max).
  • Coolant boiling point (should be higher during the summer).

12. Keep the Panoramic Roof Closed When Parked

If you have a panoramic roof on your car, it’s important to close the cover inside your car and prevent the sun from heating the car directly.

I’m telling you this because I have a panoramic roof, and a few times, I forgot to close it from the inside. 1 hour after that, I couldn’t enter the car because of how hot it was inside – the seats, gearbox, and steering wheel were so hot that I couldn’t drive for a few minutes.

13. Consider Buying Car Umbrella

If you can’t find a shaded parking spot, a car umbrella is probably the best thing you can get. It’s safe for your car’s paint and will keep your car out of direct sunlight.

Check the video below and see how it works and how to install it.

Why Is Sun Harmful To Cars

illustration of sun causing car to heat

There are 2 main harmful things that come from the sun:

  • Heat
  • UV Rays

When you heat various things, it usually damages them, so it’s with the car. Some car parts just aren’t made to withstand high temperatures. Actually, most of them.

On the other side, UV rays are harmful to everything. Just like the skin, if you don’t protect your car from the UV rays, they will enter every single pore and destroy it.

Damaging Effect the Sun Can Do to Your Car

If you still think that the sun won’t damage your car, check out these damaging effects of sun to your car.

  • Car Paint. Car paint, if not protected, may fade and oxidate, especially if you have an older car without a clear coat.
  • Tires. UV rays will also damage the tires, so protecting them is important.
  • Fluids. Excessive heat may cause some fluids to evaporate and cause you many troubles with overheating.
  • Headliner. It’s very common to see detached headliners. Mostly, it’s because of the heat.
  • Plastics. Plastic is very sensitive to UV rays and heat, and if not properly protected, it may be damaged in no time. (For instance, dashboard and other plastic parts)
  • Headlights. If you see faded yellow headlights, the sun is one of the causes.
  • Hoses. Many rubber hoses will become stiff and crack easily.
  • Upholstery. The heat will cause the upholstery to fade and lose its original color.
  • Leather. If you have leather seats, especially black ones, they will crack soon if not protected.
  • Safety systems. Some safety systems, such as airbags, may also be defective because of the heat.

I think that now you can imagine what the sun can do to the car and how much money you could initially spend on repairs.

What’s The Best Car Color To Avoid Sun Damage?

White color is the best color if you want to reduce the chances of the sun damaging your vehicle. That’s because the white color reflects most of the sunlight, and it doesn’t get so hot easily. In fact, all brighter colors don’t heat so much, while darker car colors absorb the light very easily.

It’s up to you which car color you’ll pick, but if sun and heat are your concern, choosing the brighter car color might be worth it for you. At least nowadays, there are fantastic car colors, especially white and silver ones.

Check out this recent study on silver vs. black car color on heat, that confirms my claims.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are car covers good for protecting the car from the sun?

Car covers are great for protecting your car from the sun, but I don’t recommend using them. Most car covers aren’t soft enough and will scratch the clear coat on your car, causing swirl marks and scratches everywhere.

How hot can a car get in the sun?

A recent study shows that some parts of the car interior can get up to 157 degrees Fahrenheit during hot summer days. And from my experience, the exterior of a car can get even up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit on darker vehicles.

Is it bad to leave my car in the sun?

Well, nothing bad will happen if you leave your car in the sun. But with time and constant exposure, your car’s paint will start to fade and oxidize. That’s why it’s important to keep your car protected all the time by using paint protectants, tire dressings, interior dressings, etc.

I suggest that you check my guide on How To Detail a Car. It’s an extremely comprehensive guide that includes all the steps for detailing the car’s interior and exterior and protecting your car against harmful elements such as the Sun.

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