Can Extreme Heat Melt Car Parts?

Heatwaves are getting more and more common, with parts of Europe sizzling in +40°C heat and UK moorlands dry enough to burst into flames at a moment’s notice. But what does this extreme heat mean for our cars?

Previously, we’ve looked at the technical effects that hot weather can have on our cars, with the biggest problems being overheating, tyre issues and flat batteries. But do extreme temperatures pose other threats for our cars? Like melting, for instance?

To find out, we scoured the web to find examples of cars melting in extreme heat, and were pretty shocked to find many instances of exposed parts going soft in hot weather. Check out a few examples of cars melting in extreme heat below.

London’s Walkie-Talkie Skyscraper Melts Jaguar

Back in 2013, the London skyline was given a new addition in the form of the Walkie-Talkie – one of the capital’s most distinctive buildings. But even before the building opened, one unlucky motorist discovered a major flaw in its design…

Parking his new Jaguar on Eastcheap in the City of London, Martin Lindsay didn’t think too much about the new Walkie-Talkie tower looming overhead. But, when he returned to his car two hours later, he found that the badge, wing mirror and windscreen uprights had melted in the extreme heat reflected by the tower – damage which cost nearly £1,000 to repair.

Since then, building designers have paid close attention to dangerous glare and sun dazzle, which has the capacity to melt metal and plastic. And the lesson? Always find a shady spot to park your car under, preferably away from unusually shaped glass structures.

Renault Megane Melts Away in Italy

Italy has seen its fair share of scorching summers over the past decade, with temperatures regularly hitting a scary +40°C in some areas of the country. But while Italians themselves have got used to these kinds of temperatures, it seems cars haven’t – especially those imported from overseas.

Such was the case with a navy Renault Megane, which literally began melting away during a particularly hot summer back in 2017. Photos of the melting car were snapped by British holidaymaker, John Westbrook, who said that the car had been parked in the same spot for a few days, and that its plastic trim had started to drip on to the road.

It’s not very common for cars to melt in this way, with materials tested to cope with extreme temperature changes. But, it does go to show that some manufacturers may have some work to do in temperature-proofing their vehicles. Lesson? Don’t take your Renault to hot climates.

Extreme Heat Causes Windscreens to Shatter

While modern cars are equipped to deal with extreme temperatures, there’s one area that remains more susceptible to damage in hot weather – and that’s windscreens. In the past, older-style windscreens were prone to cracking in hot weather because they expanded inside the frame. While modern, tempered-style glass can deal better with high temperatures, there’s still a risk that they could shatter if there’s already a small crack or chip on the windscreen.

Every driver knows that windscreen chips and cracks are a big problem in winter. But, they’re just as likely to cause problems in hot weather, when glass expands and the damage makes them more susceptible to shattering.

The lesson here is, if you have a chip or crack in your windscreen, get it repaired ASAP – no matter what the time of year. Even the smallest amount of damage to a glass pane can weaken its structure, leaving it vulnerable to extreme temperature change in summer and winter.

So, Can Extreme Weather Really Melt My Car?

Car during sunsetWhile parking under a unique skyscraper or driving a Renault through Italy might result in your car melting, it’s very unlikely that it will happen. Modern vehicles are tested in all extremes to make sure they’re able to cope with climate variations and freak weather, so it’s very unlikely that bits of plastic or metal will start melting on your car anytime soon.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be wary of hot weather, however. High temperatures can still affect how cars operate, potentially causing problems under the bonnet and in the cabin. What’s more, direct sunlight can cause paintwork to fade if the car is left stationary for really long periods, so it’s always best to park in the shade when you can, and make sure it’s protected with a good coat of wax.

Here are a few other tips on how to help your car survive the summer:

  • Check your tyre pressures regularly – High temperatures can cause the PSI to spike as the air inflates, so you should check their pressure every week in hot weather.
  • Make sure your cooling system is hot-weather-ready – Overheating is one of the most common causes of breakdowns in the summer, but you can help your car’s engine stay cool by topping it up with high-performance coolant/antifreeze, like Prestone.
  • Get your car serviced before summer – A professional mechanic will be able to check the condition of the battery, cooling system, tyres and air-conditioning, so you can be confident that your car’s ready for whatever summer throws its way.
  • Leave your car windows ajar when it’s safe to do so – The inside of our cars can get dangerously hot in the summer, and we’ve all experienced the unpleasant feeling of getting into one that’s too hot to sit in. If it’s safe, leave your windows slightly ajar to encourage a cool breeze inside, or use window reflectors to reduce the sun’s powerful glare. Failing that, make sure you leave time before your journey to cool the car down by opening doors and windows.

We hope this guide has helped you get to grips with the impact extreme temperatures can have on your car. If you want to protect your car whatever the weather, you can rely on Prestone. Our high-performance coolant/antifreeze protects in temperatures from -37°C to +129°C, giving you the confidence that the engine is protected no matter how high the temperatures get. For more information, visit our homepage today.