7 Ways High Temperatures Can Ruin Your Car

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Woman with stalled car, hood up
Bilanol / Shutterstock.com

It was a hot summer across many parts of the globe. As we have noted, several U.S. cities recorded their hottest days ever earlier this year.

Fall is on the way, and it soon will offer relief. But summer will return again next year. And when it does, you won’t be the only one feeling the heat.

Hot weather can do a number on your vehicle. Here are some ways that high temperatures can ruin your car.

1. Kills the battery

Car battery in engine
Tomislav Pinter / Shutterstock.com

Anyone who has lived in a region with brutal winters knows that cold weather can sap your car battery’s strength. But heat can do the same.

AAA Ohio notes that high temperatures can mess with the chemical processes inside the battery and prevent it from holding a charge. Hot weather also can evaporate battery fluid, which kickstarts the degradation of the battery.

To prevent a breakdown, AAA Ohio suggests having a mechanic run a battery test twice annually.

2. Wilts tires

Flat tire
OPgrapher / Shutterstock.com

Extreme heat can drop tire pressure, causing tires to overheat and raising the risk of a blowout. Hot road surfaces make the problem worse. Underinflated tires also might wear more unevenly.

So, check tire pressure regularly and replace tires that are wearing thin.

3. Degrades fluids

If you're low on oil - or the oil hasn't been changed recently enough - you'll out more pressure on your engine and your budget.
By Kenny CMK / Shutterstock.com

Cars count on several fluids — engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant — to run smoothly. High heat can degrade or evaporate these fluids, which in turn can make your vehicle more vulnerable to damage.

When it’s hot, keep an eye on your fluid levels and make sure to schedule maintenance such as regular oil changes.

4. Fades paint

Damaged car paint
sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock.com

The sun alone can cause paint to both fade and oxidize. High temperatures accelerate this process.

Parking your car in the garage — or even in the shade — can help. Using a car cover also will protect the car’s exterior.

5. Bakes the interior

Cracked car interior
chali_studio / Shutterstock.com

High heat can turn your car’s interior into an oven. In hot weather, it can reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and surfaces exposed to direct sunlight can rise to a scorching 195 degrees, according to the State Farm Vehicle Research Facility.

That heat can cause interior surfaces to crack and upholstery to fade. Using a windshield sun protector can help prevent damage, as can installing seat covers. But nothing beats parking your car in places that avoid direct sunlight.

6. Stalls ignition systems

keyless ignition
Kekyalyaynen / Shutterstock.com

When the weather is cooler, developing ignition issues may lie dormant. But once the weather heats up, metals can expand, leading to problems like occasional electrical failure.

This is one heat-related issue you probably won’t be able to prevent. If you notice ignition issues, have your mechanic take a look.

7. Aggravates the AC

Woman feeling hot in her car
Adam Gregor / Shutterstock.com

The hotter it gets, the harder your air conditioning must work. Once the temperature hits 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it pushes the AC system to full capacity, according to Christian Brothers Automotive.

To protect the AC, it’s best to run it at a low speed when the weather is extremely hot. Running errands early in the day and in the evening — when temperatures are lower — also can help.

Regular maintenance of the AC system is also crucial to keeping things running smoothly.

Looking for a vehicle that won’t let you down? Check out “The 17 Most Dependable Cars, According to Drivers.”

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.