If you’ve ever settled into your vehicle after a long day of work, only to recoil in pain when you place your hands on the superheated wheel and shifter, you know it’s a good idea to keep your car out of the sun. In addition to protecting the nerve endings in your fingers, protecting your car from UV rays is a good call for a number of reasons.
Both your car’s interior and exterior materials are sensitive to light and heat. Too much exposure can have unsightly effects and even result in potentially more severe issues later. So what is the best way to keep your car cool and happy when it’s warm out?
The simple answer is to park in the shade or a parking structure. If your car typically lives in the driveway, clear a space in your garage. Collector vehicles should always be garage-kept behind a quality insulated door to minimize damage to the paint and interior.
When you’re out and about, look for parking that is shaded by a tree or building. Sometimes, however, that’s just not realistic. So when you’ve got to park in the sun, consider using a sun protector.
Use Sun-Deterrent Accessories
These clever folding devices have been around for years. They work better than ever thanks to new light-reflective materials and can keep the inside of your car many degrees cooler during a warm day.
In addition to keeping the sun off your interior with a shade, you can place covers over your seats if you have leather or vinyl to prevent them from cracking. If you do regularly expose your leather seats to harsh sun, you should treat them often with a leather conditioner.
Also, wipe any dust and dirt off of your car’s dash with a microfiber cloth when you park for the day. Taking these steps will keep your interior from cracking and drying out.
Protect Your Paint
Just like your interior, your car’s paint can dry out and suffer from too much sun exposure. Make sure to wash your car regularly to keep the paint clean.
Every four to six weeks, you should also apply a coat of wax, which will help nourish the paint and provide UV protection. If your paint becomes dirty and dry, the clear coat on your car can fail, leading to unsightly bubbling.
Prepare the Mechanical Components
Cars are tested in extreme conditions, but as they age, heat can take a toll if your car isn’t well kept. Make sure that your car’s cooling system is topped off during warm months, and also check the levels of your engine and transmission oil.
Your car’s battery is another system that should be inspected in preparation for warmer weather. No one wants to be stranded in the scalding heat. Make sure your battery and air conditioning get a thorough going over before the mercury rises in your area.
Modern cars are remarkably well-engineered, but over time, any machine can wear down if it is exposed to extreme heat. Take steps to preserve your car, and you’ll be rewarded with lower bills and a more satisfying ride.
Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA.