The sun is shining, the air is warm, and wanderlust is floating around us. Summer’s the perfect time to bring your car on new adventures! But even though the roads look clear, your car can be in peril if not properly taken care of. We know rain and snow are driving dangers, but we often forget just how much damage the sun and heat can do as well.

Your car is an investment—in your lifestyle and as an asset—so you want to protect it from destruction and depreciation. Furthermore, your safety could be in jeopardy if your car overheats in the summer months.

So what can you do to protect you, your car, and your family from the heat this summer? Find out more about how to protect your car from heat damage below.

What Is Automobile Heat Damage?

Grapes are placed in the sun to be dried into raisins; laundry is placed on clotheslines to dry and bleach in the sun; and your body burns and dehydrates in contact with UV rays. The sun and heat has this same drying effect on your car. In fact, the sun’s rays can actually be amplified against the vehicle’s shiny metal, and the heat can be intensified when trapped inside the car. 

So what happens to your car when it comes into contact with sun and heat?


Hot air can get trapped inside your car, working almost like an oven. In this way, it can cause drying and cracking of the dashboard, leather seats, steering wheel, and more. It can also damage electronics or personal items inside the car.

Air can also get trapped in your tires. Hot air expands your tires, causing them to deflate quickly. When deflated tires touch hot pavement, the risk of a dangerous blow out increases exponentially. This can be incredibly hazardous for your car as well as for your safety.

Furthermore, UV rays can discolor the interior of your car. The sun has a bleaching effect that is highly harmful to darkly colored interiors, especially sensitive materials like leather. The windows of the car actually work as glass lenses to magnify the UV ray’s harmful bleaching effects even further.


This discoloration can also happen to the outside of your car, as the sun can fade and crack paint. If you live or visit the sea, car paint can also be damaged by the salty sea breeze, which deteriorates the outer coatings by dulling and scratching the surface.

Inner Workings

Your engine and transmission can overheat beneath the sun, which can cause dangerous fires or broken equipment. High temperatures can also kill your battery as you blast the AC and your car has to work harder to run properly. A dead battery means your car won’t start, leaving you stranded outside in the heat.

Along with engines overheating and tires blowing out, there are many safety concerns when you get into a hot car. Have you ever touched a hot seatbelt in the middle of summer? Or tried to sit on leather seats that have been out in the sun? Driving in a hot car can cause burns and dehydration to the driver and passengers.

So what can you do about it?

How Do You Defend Against Heat Damage?

The best way to protect your car is to park in shady areas. This keeps the harsh, hot rays away from your vehicle. But there are other precautions you should take to further safeguard your car this summer. 

Internal Damage

1. Sun Panels

Reflectorized windshield, rear window, and side window sun panels keep the car cool and protect the interior from damage. Although it may seem like a pain to put up these sun panels every time you run into the grocery store, these panels are one of the biggest payoffs to protect your car.

Because these keep your car cooler, you can get back into your car without overheating or burning yourself. It also takes less AC to cool the car, so it will drain your battery less. Plus, sun panels block UV rays from bleaching the interior of your car. 

2. Seat Covers

Seat covers protect your leather and fabric seats from lightening or staining, which protects the long-term value of your car. If you don’t like seat covers, you can also use leather conditioners for leather seats. These are specific moisturizers that protect your leather seats from drying and cracking. (They work well on leather jackets and shoes too!)

3. Open Windows

Opening your windows just a crack can help equalize air pressure, so heat won’t build up in your car. This allows the air to circulate and keep the internal temperature to a minimum. Only open your windows when it is safe to do so, though—always be aware of your surroundings.

4. Clean It

If there is any dirt, debris, or food in your car, the sun can “bake” it on to the inner surfaces. This can leave stains and spots that ruin the life of your car. Keep the inside of your car clean using a microfiber cloth and automobile cleaner to prevent grime buildup that can worsen in the sun.


5. Wash It

Just like you should keep the inside clean, you should also wash the outside of your car. There are more dirt particles floating around in the summer, like pollen and mulch. If dirt gets stuck to your car, the heat can cause these particles to scratch and dull your paint. Wash your car often to protect from these small particles, especially after a summer rainstorm. Dry thoroughly with a soft cloth, so dirt doesn’t grab on to any moisture after washing.

6. Wax It

Regularly waxing locks in the car’s paint oils, working as a shield to protect it from UV rays. It’s a lot less expensive to wax than to repaint or repair scratches. You can also consider a paint protection film, which is similar to waxing and protects your car’s paint from most environmental elements.

Inner Workings

7. Check Tire Pressure

Even the most expensive tires can lose nearly one pound of air pressure per month in warmer climates. Always check for deflated tires, which can lead to a dangerous blow out on hot roads.

8. Get Checked Regularly

You should have your car go in for a check-up at the beginning of each season. You want belts, engine, battery, and AC tested to make sure they are in proper working order. You also want to ask the mechanic to check your air filters, since dust and debris circulating in warm months can clog these screens. Overheating risks are especially high when your fluid levels are low, so you want to watch your levels of oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid.

For more tune-up tips read more here.

Auto Heat Damage Bottom Line

With a few, simple precautions, you can guard the look and safety of your car from intense heat and rays. Keeping your car secure means you can have more fun in the sun!

For additional sun/heat damage tips for protecting your home, car, and boat read more here.

Focus on your favorite summer activities by ensuring your car is always safeguarded with the right auto insurance. Get a quote here to find the right policy for you and your vehicle.