Ultraviolet light exposure does not always make an initial impact, with the exception of a sunburn. For your car, you might not see the same effects as a burn but following prolonged periods of UV exposure and high temperatures, the interior and exterior can gradually experience damage.
Areas exposed to direct sunlight can see interior temperatures from 145 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. With time, you may spot cracks and fading along the dashboard, upholstery, paint and other less-visible components.
Routine exposure to UV rays when you park in direct sunlight can lead to interior vehicle damage, often starting with the dashboard.
As it’s located right below the windshield, you may spot fading and cracks that not only mar its visual appearance but can alter its structure.
The degree of damage depends on the material. If your car has leather seats and you regularly park without protection from the sun, that supple fabric can quickly wrinkle and fade.
As this process removes the oils from the leather, the material develops a hard and stiff sensation that’s not the most comfortable to sit on. For cars with leather seats, get in the habit of conditioning the material regularly and have a plan to protect the interior.
Although cracking may not be as extreme, standard textiles are also affected by UV rays, showing signs of fading after years of exposure.
When you park in direct sunlight, your car’s paint job can also experience great damage. Especially if you drive a dark-colored car, you’ll notice the shade start to fade and lose its luster as a result of oxidation.
Additionally, your car’s plastic components, including the bumper, headlights and mirror covers, won’t just fade in color but the material may also gradually display various cracks over time. Collectively, your vehicle’s exterior starts to look older than it is, even when you regularly wash and wax.
Extreme heat and regular UV exposure have potential to affect your car’s performance and your safety on the road:
- Belts and hoses can fray and crack and eventually detach.
- Fluids, from oil and transmission to antifreeze, can evaporate. This increases the viscosity, which affects how well the fluid flows through your vehicle. In certain instances, your car may start to overheat or the lack of lubrication can result in other parts prematurely wearing out.
- Heat can affect your car’s tire pressure, inflating a tire beyond the recommended PSI and increasing the risk of blowout.
Reducing UV Exposure
As a baseline, park your car in the garage if your home has one or set up a portable shelter for shade. Decreasing UV-related damage involves keeping your car in the shade and away from direct sunlight. You’ll also notice your vehicle feels a little cooler whenever you start the engine.
Along with this general measure:
- Get in the habit of washing off dirt and debris, so anything your car picked up – from bird droppings to road tar – doesn’t get baked into the surface.
- Hand-dry the car with a microfiber cloth to fully remove all mineral deposits, which can damage your car’s paint even further when you leave it outdoors.
- Wax the exterior to not only block dirt and debris but also reduce fading, chipping and rusting.
- If you can’t park in the shade, use a windshield sun protector to reduce the amount of UV rays passing through to your dashboard and crack the windows slightly to allow heat to escape.
- To care for leather seats, use a set of seat covers to protect the material against UV damage.
Are you starting to notice the signs of UV damage on your car? Work with DaSilva’s Auto Body for interior and exterior detailing, repainting the surface and replacing or repairing parts. To set up an appointment, contact our Naugatuck shop today.