Do You Know How Hot The Inside Of Your Car Can Get?

I’ll start this one off by answering the question: Hot enough to melt plastic. I know this from personal experience.

(And by the way, if you have your own sob story or stories about how you had an item melt in the car, feel free to post it as a comment.)

The first time I had something melt in a car from Summer sun was when I was still living in New England and I left a ZZ Top audiocassette (remember those?) on the dashboard. In August. It had been left in the car the previous Friday night. Saturday came and I didn’t have to leave the house until around 2pm. I get in the car, which at the time was an ’84 Honda Civic, look on the dashboard and my tape is warped. Completely cooked from the sun.

I then felt rumbling pangs of regret.

Darn. I really liked that tape.

The second time I had something get cooked was years later when I was using a Garmin StreetPilot c340. The mounting bracket was in such a way where the power connector plugged directly into the mount rather than the GPS itself. So what I used to do is pop off the StreetPilot but stupidly left the cord plugged in and completely exposed to the sun. The rubber didn’t melt, but it got hot enough to separate the inside wires just enough where if it were in the sun too long it just didn’t work.

I felt those rumbling pangs of regret once again.

Stupid, Richard. Stupid. You know better.

I live in Florida now where it’s a lot hotter, so I have to be more mindful of what the sun can do to my tech stuff.

This is what I do, and I suggest you do the same:

Don’t use the glove box to put electronic stuff into

The glove box acts like an oven when it heats up. You’re better off putting the whatever-it-is on the center hump or under the seat where there’s more air and cooler temperatures.

If it has a screen, always place it screen down

Example: A point-and-shoot digital camera. If you’re going somewhere to take photos and have the camera on the passenger seat, have it screen down. The lens is covered and protected, but the screen is not.

If it has a soft carry case available for it, get one

Soft meaning not leather. While it’s true leather does a fine job protecting your stuff, you can grab a soft shell case easier as it won’t burn your hand.

Check your exposed devices on long trips

If you have to drive more than a half-hour somewhere, check to make sure whatever is exposed to the sun (GPS, cell phone, etc) doesn’t feel too hot to the touch. If it does it needs to be brought out of the sun.

Don’t use the A/C to cool off an electronic device that’s too hot

This is when you pull the whatever-it-is off the mount and hold it in front of a vent with the A/C on to cool it down. Bad idea. Could cause condensation. Moisture and electricity don’t mix.

Workaround: Have your fans blowing on cool without the A/C on. The temperature will be cool enough to cool the item down, but not so cold it causes condensation.

Did I miss anything?

What do you do to keep your electronic stuff cool (or cool enough) in a car cooked by hot Summer sun?

8 thoughts on “Do You Know How Hot The Inside Of Your Car Can Get?”

Avatar dl says:
I use a soft side cooler, it folds when not in use. I used to use a Coleman cooler that fit behind the drivers seat.
Avatar ALane says:
When parking for an extended period of time, I’ve found that a windshield visor reduces the temperature in my car drastically. I never used it when I lived in South Dakota… but now that I moved to Phoenix 3 weeks ago, I use it even if I’m only going inside a convenience store.
Avatar Joe Huard says:
I put expensive or sensitive items in the trunk when its parked all day at work.
Leaving the windows open slightly will allow some heat to escape. I would like to see an electronic rain detector available to roll up my power windows when it rains.
I saw and purchased a set of solar fans that I installed in the rear windows. It allowed the window to be more open and rain couldn’t get in, but the quality wasn’t good enough, so I sent them back. The fan blade rubbed on the housing. I’ll be looking for a better quality unit.
Avatar Jason Reece says:
I work out of my car, so I have my laptop with me at all times. When I bought my Mazda3 back in 2006, the only interior color offered was BLACK! I was wise enough to skip the black leather, but parked in sunlight for any period of time it becomes an inferno. Heat has fried at least one radar detector and two cell phones over the last three years. Not fun!

My laptop is a Dell Latitude E6400 (Black magnesium alloy, ironically enough) so it’s pretty tough, but I’m always certain to keep it out of direct sunlight. It’s a wise move due to the heat as well as to keep it out of view from would-be thieves. Luckilly, all 2004-2009 Mazda3s have a freakishly huge glovebox that will swallow even an average 15.4″ and easily holds my 14.1″ E6400. Apparently, the controller for the built in navigation system resides behind the glove box in cars so equipped (very few since it was a $2000 option). So all the ones without the built-in nav get a glovebox that’s more than triple the size it should be! It’s very handy and seems to keep my laptop from getting TOO hot!

Avatar Alex says:
Tint your windows
Avatar Stephen says:
I had 2 things melt in a car, once when I was a boy a found the biggest mushroom I ever saw, it ended up cooking and letting its juices go all over my dads stereo, the second was a lighter that blew up on the dashboard, that was scary going 70.
Avatar Nick C. says:
i went on a trip for about a week and so we had drinks, snacks etc in the car. when we got back home we forgot about one of the cans of soda that one of the kids had put in the back dash…yeah. the next day we were driving around town, running errands, shopping etc, constantly cooling/reheating the car and about the 6th time we got back in the car, the soda can blew. hear a loud pop and suddenly everyone and the interior of the car was covered in dr pepper.
Avatar Monte says:
In the Desert South West, New Mexico, Arizona, and the deserts of Cal it can get to 180* in a car with the windows up in about 10 minutes in the summer time.

Unfortuantly when people from other parts of the US and the world come here they don’t realize this. We have a lot of pet deaths and young children also. Very sad when this happens.

Don’t leave a child or a pet in a car! Period.

Thanks for the reminder Dave!

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