How the Florida Heat & Sun Can Damage Your Vehicle

Florida car damage is common due to the extreme heat and lack of cloud cover. Sun exposure causes more damage for vehicles than most people realize. While it is uncomfortable to get into a car that was parked in direct sunlight all day, the level of sun exposure in Florida is doing more than just making it uncomfortable to sit in the car.

The sun can damage your vehicle inside and out. Damage can include engine problems, faded paint, damaged upholstery, and significant discomfort for drivers and passengers.

Interior Damage from Sun Exposure

Your vehicle’s dashboard will receive the greatest amount of sun exposure. The windshield intensifies the effect of the direct sun, which can lead to fading and cracking and cause the interior to lose its luster and fade over time.

Upholstery also suffers under the harsh Florida sun. Cloth upholstery stands up better than leather over time, but the cloth’s color will still fade where the sun hits it most.

Florida drivers with leather seats are likely well aware of how hot it can get after sun exposure, but the sunlight will also cause the leather to crack and fade. Sunlight evaporates the natural oils in leather, causing it to lose flexibility, dry out, and eventually crack.

Exterior Damage

The Florida sun can also cause problems for your vehicle’s exterior as well. Sun damage to car paint can affect any car, but is especially prominent for darker colors like blue, red, and especially black. Sun exposure can also be a problem for the unpainted parts of a vehicle’s exterior elements such as fenders, bumpers and mirror covers.


Protecting the Vehicle’s Interior

When it comes to preventing sun damage in Florida, car care is more involved than in more moderate climates. There are several options for protecting your vehicle’s dashboard and upholstery, and you can improve the comfort level inside the vehicle as well.

Protecting your interior

  • Park in the shade. It is the easiest form of protection if possible. By avoiding direct sunlight, you’ll help keep your dash from drying and cracking. If it is safe to do so, open the windows a crack to help lower the interior temperature and equalize the air pressure.
  • Use a windshield sun protector – These heat-reflecting screens fold up to conveniently fit under a seat or in your trunk while not in use. When you park your vehicle, it is simple to unfold the screen and fit it into the windshield, effectively blocking the sunlight from entering your vehicle while parked. This is a fantastic option for drivers who must park in direct sunlight while at school or work. The vehicle will be much cooler at the end of the day than a vehicle without a windshield screen.
  • Wipe dash with a microfiber cloth – Dust and dirt can cause tiny scratches that can become worse over time. Wipe down the dash frequently to remove all particles. A low-gloss detailing product will also protect it and reduce glare.
  • Install seat covers – They not only protect leather and fabric seats, but they also help keep them cool.
  • Protect leather seats with a conditioner – The sun and heat can really do a number on them. To help avoid cracks or tears, keep seats clean, and apply leather conditioner often. You can purchase some products designed to protect leather upholstery from sun exposure, these items typically only delay the inevitable if you consistently park your vehicle in direct sunlight.
  • Tinted windows – They reduce the amount of sunlight that will reach your vehicle’s interior, but it’s vital to select tinting options that are legal in Florida. Florida’s tint law requires that any front window tinting allows more than 28% of sunlight inside the vehicle through the driver’s window, and only a 15% level of tinting is legal on the other windows.

Tips for the exterior

  • Wash and dry often –  Frequent washing and hand drying help remove dirt and dust particles that can cause micro scratches and dull your car’s finish. Washing your vehicle regularly will protect the paint from the heat and sunlight. Wash your car on a regular basis to remove dust and dirt. In the Florida sunlight, these materials will corrode the exterior of your vehicle, causing significant damage.
  • Wax your car – A layer of wax between your car’s finish and the sun’s ultraviolet rays is a great way to help protect it. Waxing is another great choice for protecting your vehicle’s exterior. A waxing makes it more difficult for debris to stick to the car and will also provide an additional layer of protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • Check tire pressure Extremely hot temperature can damage the rubber of your tires, especially if they are improperly inflated. Heat causes them to dry out and can be a recipe for a blowout.

Under the hood

  • Cooling system – In order to help protect your engine from overheating, make sure it is in good working order. Have the belts checked and antifreeze/coolant drained, then replaced on a regular basis as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
  • Oil – A hot engine needs all the lubrication it can get, so making sure you change the oil when necessary is important in the summer months. If you are taking even more road trips in the summer, more frequent changes may be necessary.
  • Coolant – Low coolant levels in high heat can destroy your car’sengine. If you have a damaged radiator or hoses, coolant may leak causing your engine temperature to rise even more.
  • Make your next cooling system repair with our company or other Sarasota auto repair service by one of our certified mechanics.
  • Battery – When temperatures start to heat up, the water in the battery will evaporate faster, leaving the lead plates exposed. Have the vehicle’s battery and complete charging system checked regularly by a professional mechanic to make sure it’s functioning properly.
  • Air conditioning – Staying cool not only keeps you comfortable, but can also help you stay alert when driving. If your car’s interior temperature isn’t cool enough, the refrigerant charge level in the air conditioning system may be low or there may be a more serious problem.

If ever your vehicle is showing signs of sun or heat damage, we recommend bringing it in to a mechanic to help prevent further damage. If you are near Sarasota, at Jesses’ Garage we specialize in European models, including the repair of Land Rover, Porsche, or Mercedes, and we would be happy to take a look to make sure your vehicle.