Car Won’t Start When Parked in the Sun

If your car refuses to start after basking in the sun for an extended period, there may be several reasons behind it. Let’s explore the main culprits and find solutions to these starting problems.

You may love soaking up the summer sun, but unfortunately, your car does not feel the same way. Parking your car under the scorching sun can sometimes lead to trouble. It’s not uncommon to face starting issues in a car that has been parked in the sun for too long.

Excessive heat can cause the fuel in your car to convert into vapor, making it difficult for the fuel to flow through the relay lines when you start the engine. While the outside temperature may not be extremely high, the temperature inside your car can easily surpass 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the point where fuel vaporization can occur. This problem is more common in older cars with carburetors, as they are more susceptible to fuel vaporization. However, modern cars with electronic fuel injection systems are less likely to face this issue. If you have an older car and encounter starting problems after parking in the sun, it’s best to wait for the temperature to drop or find a shady spot nearby. Allowing your car to cool down will likely solve the issue. If you have a newer car and still experience starting problems, further investigation is required.

Another potential reason for your car’s failure to start is battery overheating. The battery in your car consists of electrodes that convert chemical energy into electrical energy, providing power to your vehicle. The battery operates effectively as long as the temperature remains below 180 degrees Fahrenheit. However, when exposed to high summer temperatures after prolonged sun exposure, the battery can overheat, causing internal corrosion and even evaporation of the electrolyte. This can significantly reduce the lifespan of your battery and necessitate its replacement. To determine if your battery is the culprit, check if the headlights are dim or if the air conditioning is not functioning optimally. Dim headlights and inefficient AC performance are indications of an overheated battery. To prevent battery overheating problems, always park your car under trees or in shaded areas.

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Oil plays a crucial role in your car’s engine, aiding in the combustion process and lubricating vital components for smooth operation. Engine oil also helps dissipate excess heat. If your dashboard indicates low oil levels, add oil to the engine and check if the car starts. If the problem persists, it’s essential to take your car to the nearest garage for a more thorough inspection and diagnosis.

A broken electrical connection, specifically with the relay switch, can also prevent your car from starting after a few hours in the sun. The relay switch controls the ignition process by opening and closing the circuit. However, exposure to high temperatures can sometimes hinder its function. To determine if the relay switch is the issue, open the bonnet and locate the fuse box. Look for the key symbol on the fuse box, which indicates the ignition relay. Ask someone to start your car while gently tapping the ignition relay. If the car starts, it’s likely a relay problem, and you may need to replace it. Relay replacements are generally affordable, costing between $20 and $40, depending on your car’s model.

If your car continues to experience starting problems even after addressing coolant, oil, and relay issues, there may be other factors at play, such as spark plug problems, fuel pump malfunctions, clogged fuel filters, or issues with the fuel pump relay. Additionally, excessive heat from the sun can impact the car’s starter motor, preventing it from drawing the necessary current to start the engine. If this is the case, starting problems are inevitable.

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How to Keep Your Car from Overheating

Preventing excessive heat buildup in your car is essential to avoiding starting issues. Here are some tips to help keep your car cool:

  1. Always Park Your Vehicle in the Shade – Parking your car under shade protects vital components and extends their lifespan. If shade is scarce, consider investing in sunshades for your car.

  2. Invest in Window Shades – When forced to park in the sun, use window shades to shield your car from excessive heat. Window shades also help preserve the lifespan of various instruments in your vehicle.

  3. Apply Window Film – Window film not only keeps your car cool but also offers protection against harmful ultraviolet rays.

  4. Leave Windows Slightly Open – If you have no other option but to park your car under the sun, leaving the windows slightly open prevents the greenhouse effect inside your vehicle. By allowing hot air to escape, you keep the essential components cooler and reduce the likelihood of starting problems.

  5. Check the Coolant Level – Insufficient coolant levels can damage your engine and lead to starting problems. Always check the coolant level and add coolant if necessary. However, never add coolant when the engine is hot.

  6. Consider Replacing Your Battery – If you have been using the same car battery for more than three years, it might not provide sufficient power to the engine and could be a source of overheating problems. Consider replacing it.

  7. Schedule Regular Radiator Flushes – Radiator flushes should be done at prescribed intervals. Visit a trusted mechanic who will flush out the old coolant and replace it with fresh coolant.

  8. Cover Leather Seats and Steering Wheel – Leather seats and steering wheels can get extremely hot when parked in the sun. Cover them with towels or blankets to prevent overheating.

  9. Monitor the Temperature Gauge – Keep an eye on your car’s temperature gauge, located on the dashboard. The needle should always point to the center. If it veers toward the hot zone, switch off the engine and allow the car to cool down.

  10. Opt for Fresh Air Settings – Use the fresh air setting on your air conditioner for a few minutes to cool your car efficiently. The recirculation setting can trap hot air inside the vehicle.

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Remember, preventing excess heat buildup in your car is crucial to avoid starting problems. Always park in the shade or take necessary measures to keep your car cool to maintain its optimal performance.

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