Do Black Cars Get Hotter? (The Science Behind It)

Any car owner knows how uncomfortable it can be to drive on a particularly hot day. You climb inside your car, and it’s almost like you’re climbing into a blast furnace. You may have previously heard the claim that black cars are worse in hot climates than white or other light-colored cars; perhaps you’re wondering if there’s actually any truth to these claims.

Black cars do, in fact, get noticeably hotter on the inside than white cars do when left in the sun for a long time, and they also take longer to cool off. A study showed that black cars can get up to 17 Fahrenheit degrees hotter than white ones, which happens because the color black traps more heat than lighter colors.

In this article, we’ll discuss why this happens, and we’ll also go over some tips to help keep your black car a bit cooler during the summer months.

How Much Hotter Do Black Cars Get?

While it is a fact that black cars get hotter than white cars when left in direct sunlight, you may be wondering if the difference is even great enough to be noticeable in most cases. After all, if black cars only get warmer than white cars by a couple of degrees or so, that’s not really enough to make a black car significantly more uncomfortable to be in.

However, a test performed by showed that black cars get quite a bit hotter than white cars when they are left in the sun. Using two Toyota 4Runners, one black and one white, they measured the temperature of the interior after leaving the cars to sit under the sun for a few hours. They found that the interior of the black 4Runner reached a sweltering 130 degrees, while the interior of the white 4Runner only reached 113 degrees.

Not only that, but after blasting the air conditioning in both cars for about 10 minutes, Autotrader found that the white 4Runner had cooled off more than the black 4Runner in the same amount of time.

Beware of Buying a Black Car in Hot Weather

If you actually live somewhere where the weather is frequently on the hotter side, you might want to reconsider buying a black car in the first place. Aside from the fact that black cars get hotter than white cars, there are a few other reasons why black might not be the best color to get.

Because black cars get hotter, they require more air conditioning to cool off, and increased air conditioning use leads to poorer fuel economy. In fact, at one point, the state of California contemplated banning black cars from being sold as a good way of reducing the number of harmful emissions that cars produce.

While this doesn’t really have anything to do with the type of climate you live in, black cars also tend to appear dirtier than lighter-colored cars. Road grime and bird droppings are usually off-white in color, making them appear even more distinctive on a black car. Plus, paint scratches are much more noticeable on black cars.

What Car Color Is Best for Hot Weather?

In general, the lighter your car color is, the more comfortable the interior will be in hot weather. This is because lighter colors really tend to reflect more visible light, whereas darker colors tend to absorb more. The best car colors for hot weather are generally white, light blue, silver, or light gray.

When light energy is absorbed into a surface, it is converted into thermal (heat) energy. Therefore, the more light that a surface can absorb, the hotter that surface will get.

Of course, if you live in the southern States or anywhere else where the climate tends to get REALLY hot, then your car will probably still feel like a sauna on the inside regardless of what color you have.

How to Keep a Black Car Cooler

If you really do happen to live in a hot climate with a black car, there are a few things you can definitely do to keep your interior from getting too hot:

  • Park the car in a garage or any other shady area as often as you can.
  • Install window tint.
  • Leave your windows cracked slightly to provide ventilation.
  • Buy sun shades for your windshield and side windows.
  • Install a solar-powered fan in your car.

Do Black Cars Fade Faster?

The paint on black cars doesn’t fade significantly faster than any other color of the paint. If you were to compare in real-time how the paint fades on a black car versus on a white car, you might think at first that the black paint fades faster; however, this is only because black paint contains more pigment than white paint, so any fading that does occur is more obvious.

In short, most paint colors tend to fade at about the same rate, but darker colors fade a lot more noticeably than lighter colors. Black and red tend to be the colors that fade the most noticeably of all.

Final Thoughts

There are several reasons you may really want to get a black car; black is an attractive color, and black cars also tend to retain more resale value. However, if you experience living in a particularly hot and sunny climate, it might not be the best idea to get a black car for a few reasons.

That being said, if you live in such a climate and you really want to own a black car, there are several things you can do to make things a bit easier for yourself during the especially hot times of the year. In particular, you’ll want to keep your car in the shade as much as you can; not only will this keep your interior cooler, but it will prevent your paint from fading as quickly.

Gui Hadlich

Hey there! I'm Gui. To be honest, I'm not really that interested in cars. But what I'm really, really not interest in is spending lots of money fixing my car up. Thankfully, I have a father-in-law who's obsessed with cars and a brother getting a PhD in internal combustion engines, so I get to learn about fixing cars. And with Fixing Engines, I hope to help you save a lot of money and take good care of your cars.

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