How much hotter does a car get in the sun than in the shade?

The temperatures that a car can reach in the sun are really high. They get very hot, to the point of rendering the car practically unusable (keep an eye on this trick to cool it down quickly). Thanks to a study by the RACC we know that black cars get hotter than white ones… and now a team of researchers has investigated more closely what temperatures are reached inside (beyond seeing if a pizza can be cooked).

This is not a trivial investigation. On the one hand, because car thermometers lie. And on the other, because it is dangerous to “forget” a child inside in these situations. Because people do it, and more often than you think. In 2018, six minors have died in the United States for this reason and Every year 38 people die because they are exposed to high temperatures that are lethal. We cannot imagine the number of pets that suffer heat stroke and end up dying.

A team from the University of Arizona, Nancy Selover and Jennifer Vanos have published in the journal Temperature, has shown that leaving a child in a car in the sun can be fatal in just one hour. They have used three pairs of vehicles to test how the air inside them heats up, in the sun and in the shade, on a day when the outside temperature was 37.8º C (100º Fahrenheit). And these were the results:




46.6º C

37.8º C


69.4º C

47.8º C

Steering wheel

52.8º C

41.6º C


50.5º C

40.5º C

“We wanted to know what the interior of each vehicle would be like after an hour – about the time it takes to go grocery shopping,” Selover explains. “I knew it would be very hot, but I was surprised by the surface temperatures.” Who hasn’t experienced this firsthand when touching the steering wheel or gear-knob on a hot day?

And so much. Even in the shade, the temperature reached can be lethal for a child. Because although the temperature inside does not rise, the fact of including a person reduces the humidity. “They exhale humidity into the air and, at higher ambient humidity, the person cannot cool down by sweating because the sweat does not evaporate as quickly,” says the researcher. According to her calculations, a two-year-old child could collapse after an hour in a car parked in the sun and up to two hours in a car in the shade. If this happens to you, remember our advice for treating heat stroke.

Will brands use this data to develop systems that prevent parents from forgetting their children in the car? This happens especially when you are doing routine tasks and suddenly an unforeseen event makes you take longer than expected. We remind you that an 11-year-old boy invented a system called EZ Baby Saverthere are mobile applications and Hyundai is already investigating with a rear occupant alert. Meanwhile, remember to protect your car from the sun…

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