Everyone knows it. The Arizona heat is intense at all times of the year, especially during the hot summer months. People can bake cookies on the dash of their cars or even fry an egg on the sidewalk! Here in the Phoenix valley, we start to see 100-degree days in May. May is a great time to prepare your belongings for the upcoming summer heat. In 2021, Phoenix, Arizona’s hottest day of the year was June 17th, and it was a sunny 118 degrees. As one might guess or know from experience, the hot sun damages anything sitting outside. Whether you do not have a garage to park your car in or don’t have a shaded parking spot at work, your car will be inevitably in the summer heat whether it is parked or when you are driving. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your autobody inside and out from the hot summer sun. Read on to learn the eight tips to protect your car from the Arizona sun and heat.
1. Park in the Shade
The first tip is to park in the shade as often as possible, especially if your car will sit there all day. This is the easiest form of protection from the sun and heat and will save your interior and exterior tremendously. It will protect the interior dash from cracking and drying and keep your leather seats from peeling. Parking in the shade slows down sun damage to the car’s exterior by not allowing the UV rays to peel the paint off the autobody, and it will also make your tires last longer. In addition, your car will stay up to 20 degrees cooler when parked in the shade! Parking in the shade is not as simple as you might think and should come with a warning. If the shade you find is provided by a tree, be warned of the tree sap and bird poop that is bound to find a home on your car. A lot of damage can be done as a result from parking under a tree. Your local autobody shop will be able to fix the damage but it is time-consuming and costly to resolve. Therefore, a building is the ultimate source of shade! It’s worth the extra time to find parking in the shade, and you will be happier (and cooler) when you get back in your car.
2. Utilize a Windshield Shade
A windshield shade is an accordion-like, sometimes circular, closes into a pocket, polyester shade that you can put on the inside of your windshield after parked. Even if you’re not in the shade, the windshield shade will block the sun from shining in the front of the vehicle. In addition, it works to protect the steering wheel from being damaged, leather seats from being faded, cracking dashboards, and high cabin temperatures. These shades are foldable for easy storage between the front seats, and even the heavy-duty ones fold up with ease to throw in the backseat. Sunshades should be used year-round in Arizona, but especially in the summer. You can also buy sunshades with suction cups on each end to stick to the back windows. This will block the sunrays from shining in the backseat and is an excellent investment to make when you have kids in the back.
3. Invest in Seat Covers
Seat covers will not only save your legs from being burnt, but they will also protect your leather and fabric seats from peeling and tearing. We’ve all been there, hopping back into the car just to see the direct sun shining on your seat. If you aren’t wearing pants (which you aren’t if you’ve experienced an Arizona summer), your legs will be burned, especially if it’s a leather seat. Seat covers fit from the top of the chair to the bottom to ensure full protection. If you cannot purchase seat covers for your entire interior, start with just the driver’s seat. An old towel works great as well if you’re in a pinch! So, save your bare legs from a sunny leather seat, and in turn, you will be protecting your leather seat from disintegrating under the summer sun.
4. Clean the Interior and Exterior Often
Who doesn’t love a freshly cleaned car, inside and out? It is a very satisfying task. To protect the interior and exterior of your car from scratches, clean your car often. Frequent washing removes dust, minerals, bugs, and dirt that can cause micro scratches that dull your car’s finish and scratch the paint. In addition, minerals and bugs can react to high temperatures and cause the paint to fade. Waxing your car is also a great idea, and it acts like sunscreen to protect the exterior of the car. In addition, waxing the exterior helps lock in the natural oils from the paint and gives the paint longevity. You should wax your car a minimum of twice a year.
5. Regularly Check your Tire Pressure
During the summertime, tires are likely to blow out because of the increased temperature and heat of your tires and the road. If you drive on under-inflated tires on hot roads, there is a high chance of blowing a tire. To prevent this, get your tire pressure checked often. You will save money in the long run if you keep up with this practice. In Arizona, tires usually last 3-4 years or when driven 40,000 miles. This is because the rubber doesn’t last as long on our hot roads as they do in cooler places. Make sure to follow your vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.
6. Under the Hood Car Maintenance
Before it starts heating up, it’s wise to take your car into your favorite shop for some ritual under the hood maintenance. Make sure they check the cooling system, fluids, air conditioning, and battery. The cooling system keeps your engine from overheating, and if it is not in working order, this could be detrimental when temperatures start heating up. They should also check the belts and have the antifreeze/coolant changed. Your engine will overheat if your fluid levels are below the vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommended levels. These fluids include motor oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. Another crucial part to get checked under the hood is the battery. Like tires, batteries don’t last as long in Arizona because of the high temperature and constant use of the car’s air conditioning. Make sure to get it checked out by a professional to ensure you won’t get stranded somewhere due to a dead battery! Finally, if the interior temperature is too warm, even if you’re AC is on full blast, you probably need a recharge. You might have a refrigerant leak or even a fan motor failure, so it’s best to get your AC checked by a professional so you can be cool for the summer.
7. Open your Windows a Crack
When parked somewhere for the day or at home, another effortless way to take care of your car is to leave your windows open a crack. Obviously, you should not leave your window open wide enough so that someone can break-in, but just enough to equalize the pressure inside and allow airflow. This will reduce the internal temperature of the car and will make it easier on your dashboard and seats. It also will prevent a windshield chip/crack from spreading across the glass.
8. Get your Windows Tinted
If you already don’t have tint on your windows from when you purchased your vehicle, or it is a very light tint, you wouldn’t believe how a darker tint can make a difference to the internal temperature of your car! Window tint is an excellent investment because it blocks the sun’s UV thermal rays and prevents it from coming through the window. It can block heat up to 70% but still allow natural light to come in. From personal experience, I know the difference window tint makes. I’ve owned a car with barely any window tint in the back and absolutely no window tint in the front seat. It made it difficult to drive because it got so hot inside, and I saw what it did to the interior surfaces of my car. Now I drive a car with professional window tint on all windows, making a world of difference. Make sure to observe the local window tint laws in your state. In Arizona, the windshield is allowed a non-reflective tint above the manufacturer’s AS-1 line, the front windows must allow more than 33% of light in, and the backside and rear window, any darkness can be used (according to tinting-laws.com/Arizona). Arizona state law prohibits the use of red and amber tint colors, and they allow medical exemptions for special tint. If you do not live in Arizona, check your local laws regarding window tint because they vary.
These eight tips will ensure a happy and cool(ish) summer for you and your vehicle. Parking in the shade, using a windshield shade, regularly checking your tire pressure, using seat covers or towels, cleaning the inside and out often, and opening your windows a crack are the easiest things you can put into practice in your everyday life. In addition, keeping up with your under the hood maintenance, checking your battery life, and getting your windows tinted are simple steps you can invest in to prevent high costs in the future. These eight simple tips guarantee your vehicle will be taken care of and will even help it last longer in the future.