It may be hot, but chances are it’s not hot enough to fry an egg on the hood of your car. That’s just one of the many myths you might hear about hot cars. While such legends ] are fun to think about, some myths can be dangerous if believed.

The more you know about the truth about hot cars, the better you are able to stay safe this summer

Below are eight common hot car myths. We’ve also added steps you can take to protect your car, your kids, and your pets as the temperatures soar this summer. Here are the myths- debunked.


Myth #1

It’s only 10 minutes. It’s fine to leave the kids or the pets in the car.

You would be surprised at how quickly the inside of a parked car heats up. In just 10 minutes, the temperature can rise 20 degrees. Cars can reach dangerous levels quickly. It could be 60 degrees outside, but the inside of the car could be up to 100 degrees due to the windows functioning like a greenhouse and trapping the heat inside.

Don’t leave anyone in the car, especially children and pets who may be vulnerable to the heat. Children’s bodies cannot cool themselves as well as adults. Dogs can only cool themselves by panting. Even if you think it’s not that hot out, it’s best to err on the side of caution.  What about if the air conditioning is running? That’s not a good idea either. There have been instances where the compressor has failed or dogs or children have bumped the controls, switching from cool to heat. There is never a safe way to do this so make alternate arrangements for child and pet care. If you see a child or pet in a hot car, call 911. It may just be a lifesaving call.



Myth #2

Leave the window cracked open to keep the car cool when you park.

You might think that opening the window a crack will help keep the temperature at a reasonable level. Surprisingly, there is just about a 2-degree difference between a closed window and one that’s cracked open. Plus a slightly open window can be an invitation to car thieves. It’s not worth risking a theft of your car or endangering anyone or anything inside.

If you’re parking your car, and you’d like to keep it cool, try these tips.

    • Park in the shade or, if possible, in a garage.
    • Use a sun shield for your windshield.
    • Cover the interior with light-colored fabric.
    • Consider a solar-powered ventilation fan.
    • Finally, tinted windows can make a difference (but check first to see the rules in your state. Not all locations allow them)



Myth #3

You can save a lot of money by rolling down the windows and not using you’re a/C.

Want to save money in the summer and be more fuel-efficient, just sweat it out, right? Wrong. While blasting your air conditioner in the summertime does slightly increase gas usage, it is not enough that you would even notice. And while most people think all they have to do is roll their windows down so they do save that small percent of gas, rolling your windows down at high speeds can also reduce your fuel economy. This is because of the aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) it creates, making your vehicle use more energy to push through the air

Remember a hot driver is a distracted driver. So, don’t be afraid to use your AC. If you want to get the most out of your fuel this summer, roll your windows down when you are driving at lower speeds or when you first get into your vehicle to let the heat out and use your A/C (at a consistent temperature) when you are driving faster.



Myth #4

Only neglectful parents forget their child in a car.

You hear stories of babies or young children being left in cars with tragic endings. You might assume that those parents who would forget their children are bad parents. That’s not the case.  It could easily happen to anyone.

Follow these tips so that you don’t put yourself or your child in this dangerous situation.

    • Keep an important item in the back seat with your children such as a work ID, purse or wallet, or cell phone.
    • Put your child’s stuffed animal, diaper bag, or other items in the front passenger seat as a reminder.
    • Ask your child’s caregiver to contact you if your child does not arrive at a certain time.

These steps will help keep everyone aware—and safe.



Myth #5

You can’t do anything if your car overheats.

A vehicle can overheat for a number of reasons, but usually, it is because something is wrong with the cooling system. If you don’t take the proper action your engine could become permanently damaged. If your car overheats, don’t just pull to the side of the road- there are other steps that you need to take.

First, turn off the A/C and crank up your heat. We know this sounds bizarre in the summer, but it will pull heat away from your engine and give you time to pull over to a safe location. Next, shut off your car for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on your temperature gauge and make sure it starts to drop. If you haven’t already, this is where you will need to check and add your coolant, if needed. Finally, after giving it a few minutes rest, restart your engine and take it to your local mechanic.



Myth #6

If it’s hot enough, your car window can shatter.

Unless your windshield has previous damage, you don’t have to worry about the glass shattering. But if the conditions are right, it could crack. Glass will expand when it’s hot and contract when it’s cold. Big swings in temperature can cause stress cracks, cracks that suddenly appear for no apparent reason.

You can prevent stress cracks in the future by

    • Avoiding large changes in temperature such as blasting the air conditioning in a hot car.
    • Parking in a garage to reduce heat exposure.
    • If you’re washing your car on a hot day, try lukewarm water instead of cold for less of a temperature difference.

If you do get a stress crack, get it fixed as soon as possible. Check with your insurance provider to see if your policy will cover stress crack damage.



Myth #7

You need to fill up your gas tank in the morning

Many people think that you should fill up your gas tank in the morning when it’s cooler outside because gasoline will expand when heated. Meaning your get more energy per gallon in the early morning hours than you would later in the day when the temperature rises. This is false.

Not only does the energy content of gasoline stay the same in varying temperatures, filling stations store their gas in underground tanks. So the temperature of the gasoline coming out of the pump varies very little throughout the day. No matter what time you get gas, even in extreme heat, you will be getting the same energy content.




Myth #8

The heat won’t have a lasting effect on how your car runs.

Excessive heat can affect your car in the long term. Hot air in your tires causes them to expand, and they could over-inflate. The heat thins your engine oil so it doesn’t lubricate as well. High temperatures cause battery fluid to evaporate, which can weaken batteries or speed up the corrosion process.

Follow these tips to protect your car this summer.

    • Monitor your tire pressure and watch for overinflation.
    • Fill your engine oil to the highest level.
    • Check your battery’s charge
    • Schedule routine maintenance.
    • Make sure to maintain your car to keep it running well.


These myths are proof that you shouldn’t believe everything that you see or hear.  ( And as for debunking the” frying an egg on a hot car hood” myth, it has to be about 158 degrees Fahrenheit before eggs even start to cook.  That egg can also damage the paint surface and turn into an expensive repair).

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your vehicle. Use yours wisely and have a safe summer.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

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