How to Prepare Your Car for the Extreme Heat

It seems summers in the United States are getting hotter. Whether it’s normal weather patterns or global warming, the effects can feel stifling for people. Extreme temperatures take their toll on your vehicle too, and arguably the hot sun does more damage than the frigid winter weather.

However, there are things you can do about the extreme heat. It could be as simple as changing where you park, a small investment in an accessory or car care item, or installing a solution for burning your legs on hot leather or vinyl. And whether you’re installing a new battery for $200 or changing a fluid or two under the hood, it’s going to help you and your car bear the heat better.

Here’s how to protect your car from extreme heat.

Park in the Shade

It’s a simple solution, but it works. The sun’s UV rays can deteriorate almost any substance if it’s left long enough. That includes your car’s paint, plastic trim, the soft vinyl inside, and the leather and fabric. Even the tires will fade and crack when they’re left in the sun frequently for a long time. 

If you’re able to, park under a tree, a roof, or in the shade of a tall building. Keeping the direct sun off your car will not only help prevent deterioration, but it will keep the interior cooler when you get in.

Shield Your Interior from the Sun

Car windows are made of UV-filtering glass, but they can still act as a magnifier for the heat sometimes. One of the best – and least expensive – accessories you can buy to keep the sun off the interior is a sunshade. It folds up tidily when it’s not in use, deploys in seconds, and you’ll notice the difference the first time you use it. There are universal sunshades as well as model-specific sunshades, and none of them will blow your budget. 

Use a Car Cover?

car cover Pro Elite
ProElite Moderate Duty Outdoor SUV Car Cover

Does a car cover protect from heat? It certainly can. Whether you use it in summer or winter, a car cover has an insulating factor that keeps the temperature inside your car more moderate. It protects even better than a sunshade since it avoids getting sap and bird droppings on your paint.

It’s more cumbersome to use a car cover to protect from heat, but it’s especially great if you don’t have a garage at home.

See what the our recomendations for the best car covers for your car here.

Test the Battery

multimeter being used to test battery
Testing battery with Multimeter

Batteries are not a fan of extreme heat. While it’s easier to turn an engine over when the temperature outside is hot, a battery can experience increased rates of off-gassing, leaving your terminals corroded and the electrolyte inside low. It’s a recipe for a prematurely failing battery. 

If your car is subjected to the extreme heat often or your battery is a few years old, make sure you’re getting it tested frequently. If the cranking amps are below normal and it’s fully charged, get a replacement so you aren’t getting stranded somewhere. 

Take advantage of free battery tests available at AutoZone.

Check Your Coolant

Not only does antifreeze protect your engine from – well – freezing, but it promotes heat transfer better than plain water. If your coolant isn’t mixed strong enough in the engine or it’s low, your engine temperature could skyrocket when the mercury rises outside. Getting stranded with an overheating car isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time.

Test your coolant when the weather is steamy outside, or at the start of every summer. If the mix isn’t right, change it out or adjust it with coolant from a new bottle that’s intended for your make and model.

Apply a Coat of Wax

Waxing your car can protect against heat

If you’ve seen faded, peeling clear coat on cars in your city, it’s often because the paint hasn’t been cared for very well. Paint is affected by UV, just like most other things on a car, and a high-quality wax job can prevent yours from looking weathered and beaten up. It’s a great way to protect a car from sun heat.

Learn how to wax your car yourself here.

Check Your Tires

Tire pressures rise when the temperature increases, and that can affect how your car handles. Adjust the tire pressure in each wheel to be within the normal range. As well, check the tread and sidewalls for cracks that can be caused by UV wear. 

Also, remember that worn-down tires don’t grip the road as well as new ones with plenty of tread remaining. If your tires are worn, consider replacing them so you don’t slide as far in a panic braking situation.

Travel When It’s Cooler Outside

You don’t always get a choice when you need to get behind the wheel, but if you do, time it with cooler temperatures. Plan your grocery runs for early morning or late evening when the temperatures have dipped down.

Install a Remote Engine Starter

To beat the heat before you get into a hot car, get a remote engine starter installed. For a few hundred dollars, you’ll have a key fob that allows you to cool down the interior before you sit in it. And in the winter, you’ll love it for heating up the car and even triggering the heated seats. Just keep in mind you need to set the HVAC control accordingly when you get out of the car.

Let AutoZone help you beat the heat. Whether you need fluids to maintain your vehicle or accessories to keep you cool, you’ll find what you need online and in-store.

FAQ/People Also Ask

How can I protect my car from extreme heat?

Make sure your car is properly maintained, and park it where the sun isn’t directly on it. 

How do I prepare my car for hot weather?

A good start is to check the fluids and battery before the heat arrives, and protect your interior and exterior from harmful UV rays.

Can cars handle extreme heat?

Cars are manufactured to withstand both hot and cold extremes, but not without proper care. It’s best to avoid the extreme heat when possible.

What temperature is too hot for cars?

There’s no threshold where it’s too hot to drive a car. However, you’ll notice things like the A/C aren’t as effective when the temperatures are well above 100F.

How can I protect my car from the sun without a garage?

You can use a car cover or windshield sunshade to protect your interior from the sun. Use a good wax to help avoid paint issues if you don’t have access to a car cover.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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