Do Light Colored Cars Stay Cooler?

Do Light Colored Cars Stay Cooler?

Is it really true that light colored cars stay cooler longer than darker cars? Is there a scientific fact that can back this up?

This notion that light colored cars stay cooler may stem from our basic science teacher showing us how black and white pieces of fabric react to heat. Under direct sunlight, these two similar materials react very differently to the extended exposure.

But you don’t really see that through the naked eye. They’re still the same pieces of clothing that did not go through any physical transformation. And that’s why we don’t really put that much thought into it.

But, when you place a thermometer under each one the change is noticeable. There is at least a 5 degree difference between the temperature of these differently colored pieces of fabric.

But how does this apply to cars?

How Do Light Colored Cars Stay Cooler Than Darker Cars?

How do light colored cars stay cooler than darker cars?

Cars are composed of different materials. Although it is generally metallic, you also have to consider that glass, plastic, fabric/leather, and others are present.

A car is also an empty shell fully encompassed by glass where there are openings. The fabric, plastic and other components are factors in retaining heat once heat is introduced through the transparent glass.

To some degree, all cars will feel hot, no matter the color when exposed to too much sun. The question is how can you reduce heat?

Understanding thermodynamics and how heat is transferred and retained through different surfaces help manufacturers and car owners decide what color to use and what materials work best to keep a car cool.

The first thing is to paint the car with highly reflective paint. The car’s shell is the biggest part of the entire vehicle and thus the one that absorbs heat the most. Metal easily absorbs ambient and direct heat from the sun’s rays and the invisible infrared rays present.

Putting on a coat of highly reflective paint helps lessen the amount of direct heat from penetrating through. There are paint companies that specialize in highly reflective tint for heat reduction.

Second, is window tint. Car manufacturers actually have included tint as a factory standard instead of as an add-on option. The basic tint your car comes with is sufficient enough for protection from UV rays and heat. Getting aftermarket tint installed should help increase those qualities.

Last, but not least, the materials used inside your car. Using dark fabric for your interior is cool especially if you’re trying to achieve a certain air of sophistication. It also makes it really  easy to clean especially if you have real leather instead of plain fabric.

The bad thing is, it will retain heat when directly exposed to the sun. That also applies to your dashboard, door panels, and car headliner. Replacing the entire interior with lighter colored materials should help hasten heat dissipation.

Other Ways To Ensure Light Colored Cars Stay Cooler

There are actually more ways to ensure light colored cars stay cooler other than getting a highly reflective paint job. These simple tips can help reduce the amount of heat coming into your car. It could also help you protect your paint job from the harsh effects of direct UV rays exposure.

Don’t Park Your Car Under The Sun

This is a no-brainer. If you want to keep your car cool, don’t park it where the sun can mercilessly beat it down with UV and infrared rays. Find a garage or a car park building and leave your car there if you have to be away for an extended period during the day.

Your car’s paint will last longer if you do that.

You will have to pay the parking fees but the trade-off for that is having a cooler car to drive off in.

Park Under A Tree Or A Shaded Area

Park Under A Tree
Park Under A Tree

If there’s no car park building or garage, park under a tree or any other shaded area. In the city, try to find where building shadows fall over parked cars. This is the next best thing to having no shade at all.

Car Covers Do More Than Just Protect You From The Harsh Sun

Car Cover Covers Car
Car Cover Covers Car

If the above two mentioned aren’t available, bring a car cover. The car cover will protect your car from direct exposure to UV rays from the sun. Your paint will last longer if you do that.

Aside from sun protection, your car will also benefit from staying dust-free and fully protected from prying eyes.

Get A Windshield Cover

Windshield Cover Covers Windshield
Windshield Cover Covers Windshield

If you think using a car cover is unwieldy, try using a windshield cover instead. This is a simple contraption that you place inside your car to block out sunlight coming in through the windshield. This effectively protects the front portion of your cabin from too much sun exposure.

You also won’t feel like you just sat on a hot frying pan when you first get into your seat.

You Can Never Go Wrong With White Or Silver

The public has spoken and it seems like white or silver cars are more preferable nowadays over darker colored cars. And this is not because of the idea that light colored cars stay cooler.

It’s just cooler.

It’s that plain and simple.

As of 2010, silver cars have overtaken white cars in terms of popularity. White cars are now more popular as service vehicles by companies and taxis.

Maybe You Should Think About Getting High-Quality  Car Tint

Cars come with tint nowadays as a standard feature. But this tint is usually very basic and only provides you with enough sun protection focused on keeping UV rays out. Heat deflection is often just a secondary feature of the tints provided by car makers.

Fortunately, there are aftermarket tints available that not only provide maximum heat deflection but also protection from UV rays. Most of the tint available is also marketed to make cars look aesthetically pleasing.

Pop Your Windows Open To Let The Hot Air Out

Roll Your Tinted Windows Down
Roll Your Tinted Windows Down

Let your car breathe by venting it. Pop your windows a bit to let the steam out. A small slit is better than nothing at all.

The manner in which hot air works is that it will always rise up. Allowing an opening, no matter how small helps the hot air escape faster. It will also help you normalize the temperature inside your vehicle so you won’t feel like you just got inside an oven when you first get in your seat.

Before Getting In, Turn The AC On

One trick to having a cool car to drive in is to turn the AC on before you get in to drive. Allow the outside air to come in to normalize the temperature inside your car before switching it back on to circulating cool air inside.

Keep Your Coolant Levels Up

One of the things most people forget about cars is that they are hot machines that need a cooling system to operate properly. Light colored cars stay cooler with proper coolant levels maintained. This keeps your engine cool and in turn, your AC unit.

Drive When There’s No Sun At All

Dark Tint Can Impede Your Vision At Night
Night Driving

This is a bit restrictive as it limits your ability to use your car. And UV rays are still present at night. But minimizing the amount of time your car is exposed to direct sunlight is better than driving under the heat of the sun.

If you have other tips, leave a comment below. I’m sure it’ll be helpful to the rest of us.

PS. This Is Only Applicable To Convertibles And Jeeps

Do you want heat to quickly dissipate? Pop that top open. The fresh air will do you good. Just make sure you have sunblock  on because driving under the sun can hasten skin aging .

Or just pop the top back on so you won’t have to drive under the cruel heat of the sun.

And if you’re in a Jeep, heat shouldn’t be an issue, right? Just rough it. You know you can take it.

All or most of these things apply to all types of vehicles whether you have a car, a truck or an RV. Some of the basic concepts of heat deflection and sun exposure reduction even apply  to motorcycles. What’s important is your basic understanding of thermodynamics and the properties of heat and what you do with this knowledge to keep your vehicle cool at all times.

You can even apply some of these concepts to how you dress when the sun’s out and what you can do to ensure you don’t get too much sun exposure. And just like protective wax for your car’s paint job, sunblock also protects your skin from premature aging , sunburn, and other harmful effects too much sun will get you.

Lighter Colored Cars Don’t Always Stay Cool In The Long Run

Before you end up believing that your lighter colored car will stay cool forever, let me just say this: it won’t.

As your car’s paint ages, certain portions will absorb more heat than the rest. Heat emanating from your engine will also affect your interior’s temperature. Coolant should help lessen that but preventive maintenance is your best bet when it comes to keeping your entire car in tip-top shape.

Your tint won’t last forever as well. As a first line of defense , it is also expected to take the brunt of the full force of the sun’s rays. Replace them once you notice its condition deteriorating beyond the acceptable, optimal level of use.

The temperature in your area will also change over time. Thanks to global warming, certain parts of the world are now suffering from a heatwave  while others are freezing. This is an uncontrollable factor. Your best bet is just to take the tips listed above and use it to your advantage.

Related Questions

Which Light Colored Cars Stay Cooler Than All The Others?

Studies have shown that cars painted silver or white stay the coolest under the midday sun. This is because silver and white have the best heat deflection qualities that reduce the amount of heat absorbed over time. If you want to have a cool car, get a silver or white one. Preferably a sports car.

Can Tint Help Me Keep My Light Colored Cars Stay Cooler?

One of the things owners do to keep light colored cars stay cooler, is to install the right kind of tint. There are many aftermarket tints from 3M that will suit your lifestyle. The most effective, for making sure light colored cars stay cooler, is ceramic tint like the ones used on top luxury cars.

Will A Highly Reflective Car Cover Or Windshield Cover Help Me Minimize Heat Inside My Car?

As a general rule, light colored cars stay cooler under the shade. Any type of shade will help. But, if you really have no choice except to park under the sun, a car cover or a windshield cover will do. This minimizes heat entering through the windows. The same concept applies for heat deflection.

In Conclusion

If you want to ensure that you have a cool car to drive after parking it under the midday sun, get one that’s light-colored . In addition, high-quality  ceramic tint, aftermarket reflective paint and popping your window a bit to vent trapped hot air in will ensure you’ll enjoy getting in and driving off without breaking a sweat.

Light Colored Cars Stay Cooler
Light Colored Cars Stay Cooler

Get a white or silver sportscar. That always works. It works even better if it’s a convertible.

And if you own a Jeep, just rough it.

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