Heat is the primary cause of damage to cars in the summer. Heat expands metal and can buckle plastic, but the heat also causes paint to crack and peel. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are just as bad for your car’s exterior, causing it to fade more quickly than usual.
The good news is there are things you can do right now that will help protect your car from extreme heat and sunlight.
1. Protect Your Dashboard
The dashboard is one of the most sensitive areas for sun damage — many dashes are made from real wood, which will crack and fade over time if left unprotected.
There are specific sprays that are formulated for use on car dashes, but even a good quality wax will work well as long as it isn’t left on too thick. Try applying it with a clean microfiber cloth instead of directly onto the dash itself, then buffing it off once dry.
2. Use A Sunshade
Sunshades are easy to install and can give you protection all year round. Sunshades for your car work by ensuring that the air temperature in your vehicle stays cooler-much like how wearing sunscreen makes you hot less quickly by deflecting the sun’s rays.
Using windshield sunshade is one of the best ways to avoid cracks and keep your windshield protected against heat. In case of windshield cracks, it’s better to immediately contact windshield repair and replacement services.
3. Avoid Car Washes With Aggressive Brushes And Chemicals
Car washes often use very harsh brushes or chemical solvents, which strip away any protective wax coatings you might have, letting in harmful rays of ultraviolet light. The best solution is to wash your car yourself.
If that’s not an option, look for a soft bristle brush when selecting one at the pay station, or go with touchless automatic options when possible.
4. Use Protective Seat Covers
Extreme heat can cause car seats to crack, fade, or melt over time. There are different covers available for your front and backseat passengers if you’d rather not invest in a complete set of custom-fitting seat covers. Look for breathable fabrics that will absorb sweat and discourage mold or mildew growth-such as mesh or fabric with an open weave.
Leather is best left uncovered, even during the summer months. Leather doesn’t “breathe,” which means it holds onto body heat, much like how wearing long underwear traps heat inside your body on a cold winter day. Keep leather seats cool by applying an air conditioning vent cover over each vent that blows into the back of the car.
5. Wipe Off Excess Dirt And Debris
If you are planning to park your vehicle outside, give it a quick wipe down before parking. Leaves and other debris can act as tiny mirrors which bounce the sun’s rays directly into weak spots like decals and emblems.
Don’t forget: even if you’re only leaving your car parked for a short time, prevent damage by applying sunscreen or insect repellent sprays before getting in or out of the vehicle!
6. Keep Your Tires Inflated At The Right Pressure
Tires will shrink slightly when sitting idle because they lose air pressure naturally over time-but, this process is accelerated by summer heat.
Check tire inflation regularly throughout summer and make sure to refill any tires that are significantly below the recommended pressure (check your manual for the right psi). If you don’t want to invest in an air compressor, look into an inexpensive portable option so you can check and refill tires on the go.
7. Always Park In The Shade
If you plan on parking your vehicle in the open air for extended periods, try to park it in the shade whenever possible. Not only will it keep the interior cooler, but it’ll also prevent sun damage to paint and clear coat finishes.
Even if it’s just during peak hours in between or late at night after the sun has set, pick a spot that won’t be exposed directly to direct sunlight.
8. Carry An Emergency Kit
Overheating your car is potentially dangerous and definitely frustrating, especially in the summer when you’re stuck without a/c.
Be sure to pack extra sunscreen, insect repellent spray (and maybe lemons), and water in case of emergency breaks or roadside repairs that can leave your car parked for longer than expected.
Even if you’ve done all these steps, you might still risk heat damage to the paint on your car. To avoid this, store a gallon or two of water underneath your front seat or in the trunk so that it’s always available when you’re stuck with no shade.
The summer heat is brutal, but with a little extra effort, these tips will help protect your car’s exterior so it remains shiny and new even throughout the most sweltering temperatures!