Auto Locksmiths blog

How Temperature Affects Your Car & Belongings

By March 19, 2023 No Comments

You’re probably keenly aware of how hot a car can get on a sunny summer day, especially if you’ve got black seats and no window coverings and you’ve left your car baking in a parking lot. Temperature can pose many dangers to you and your passengers, but it can also damage your belongings as well as your car keys and locks.

What can you do to protect your vehicle against extreme temperatures? What exactly are the hazards of extreme temperatures to look out for? In this blog post, we’ll go over these questions and provide useful and practical tips to keep safe on the road.

The dangers of internal car temperature

Most of the time, internal car temperature isn’t a problem so long as you’ve got a reasonably good vehicle. A little too chilly? Turn on the heat or get cozy in those heated seats. A little too hot? Flip on the AC and cool off a little.

The problem usually comes from extreme temperatures which can be exacerbated if your car is left outside and exposed to the elements for prolonged periods. Sometimes, it can’t really be helped. If you’re doing some grocery shopping, you’re probably going to need to park in a wide open parking lot for half an hour or longer.

On an extremely hot or cold day, this could have big repercussions on your vehicle. Generally, when temperatures soar, internal car temperatures can be 10-20°F higher inside, due to windows refracting light and made even hotter with black seats. These temperature extremes can also damage your belongings and be life-threatening to any pets or if you have a child locked inside of the car.

The below infographic illustrates some of the rough temperature ranges and their effects on children and pets, electronics, and medications in your vehicle:

Internal Car Temperature Infographic

Parts of the United States where extreme weather occurs

Depending where you live in the United States, your vehicle may or may not be prone to extreme temperatures. Generally, if you live in the Pacific Northwest, temperatures are seasonally fairly balanced. If you live in some parts of New Mexico or Nevada, however, extreme temperatures may be all too familiar an experience.

Below are some of the regions of the US that experience different temperatures that can be dangerous in your vehicle:

Temperature Range (°F) Regions most affected States most affected
Freezing Below 32°F ●      North

●      New England

●      Alaska

●      Minnesota

●      North Dakota

●      Maine

Cold 32-50°F ●      Midwest

●      Northeast

●      Wisconsin

●      Michigan

●      Ohio

●      New York

Room temperature 68-77°F ●      All ●      All
Warm 77-90°F ●      South

●      Midwest

●      West coast

●      Texas

●      Florida

●      Arizona

Hot 90-105°F ●      South

●      Southwest

●      Texas

●      Arizona

●      California

●      Nevada

Extremely hot Over 105°F ●      South

●      Southwest

●      Arizona

●      California

●      Nevada

Can extreme temperatures damage your car keys or locks?

Yes. In extreme temperatures, your vehicle can sustain damage including the locks and keys. This only tends to happen on the polar ends of the spectrum, however.

  • Extreme cold/freezing: in freezing temperatures, your keys can become brittle, which can make them more prone to snapping or breaking inside of the lock mechanism. If your key breaks, you should contact a car locksmith near you for key extraction services. In below-freezing temperatures, you may even need to keep your vehicle running to avoid having it stall, although this is somewhat rare.
  • Extreme heat: when temperatures crack the 100s on the thermostat, plastic components and parts in your car can become melted and deformed, including your car keys (the heads are often made of plastic, often containing a transponder key needed to start the vehicle). Your locks may also expand under extreme heat, making it hard to open your locks with your key.

How to avoid damage from extreme temperatures

Avoiding extreme temperatures is ideal, but it isn’t always feasible if you’ve got places to go to and people to see. Generally, you should try to keep your vehicle parked in a garage while at home or at work. Keeping it out of direct sunlight can prevent overheating and it can also prevent your vehicle from freezing.

If you need to park in an open parking lot, try to do all of your shopping quickly so that you minimize time spent away from the vehicle. While it’s parked, consider covering up the windshield and side windows to limit heat (or to act as insulation to keep heat from escaping in the winter).

If you’re locked out of your car, try to cover up all of the windows with blankets or towels until a car locksmith can arrive to unlock it for you.

Keep cool and call an auto locksmith near you

Need to have your car keys replaced or your locks repaired? Use the Auto Locksmiths website to find an automotive locksmith near you, anywhere in the United States.