Hot Car: Summer in the Civic

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Summer is here, and our cars are scalding. Those beautiful, black leather seats that made us so happy in the fall have now become a seething reminder of the sun’s incomprehensible power. The wood-trim steering wheels we negotiated to get a deal on are wreaking their revenge on our fingers. The black-on-black beauty we put our hard-earned cash into modifying now laughs every time we unlock it, anticipating the speed with which we will drive it home to avoid succumbing to heatstroke.

It’s hot, folks. It’s don’t play with fireworks, don’t leave your dog in the car, don’t leave your chocolate outside the fridge hot. And if, in some small way, we can help you avoid the warm-weather mistakes we made when we bought our cars, if you value staying cool in your vehicle even more than you value looking cool in your vehicle, we’re here to help.

The biggest consideration to make if you want the ultimate summer weather warrior is color. Studies show that white cars can reflect as much as 60% of the sun’s rays, while black cars can only reflect as much as 5%. That’s a pretty dramatic gulf, and it bears out in real world settings as well. If you parked a black Mustang and a white Mustang side by side on a hot summer day, the black Mustang would likely be around 20 degrees hotter than the white one, and it would take longer to cool with AC as well!

Another element to consider is the color of the interior. Cloth or leather, light-colored interior retain less heat than dark-colored interiors. If interior temperature is a serious consideration for you, you’d do well to start liking light-colored vehicles.

You may prefer red cars because of your psychology. You may prefer dark interiors because of your aesthetic inclinations. But if you prefer cars that stay as cool as possible in the summer, you’ll want to go with something white – it’s just basic physics.

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