Are you feeling hot, hot, hot and ready to escape your stuffy car for the icy deliciousness of A/C in the mall, theater, or office? Not so fast. While you’re indoors enjoying the crisp embrace of cool air, guess what’s not? That’s right — your car. In fact, you might be surprised to find out what not to leave in a hot car.

Even if the temperature feels moderate outside, your car’s interior can heat up fast. In fact, according to, your glass windows act as an insulator that can quickly heat your car to a whopping 200 degrees. So with that in mind, here are 7 things you should never leave in a hot car.

1. Your pet

We don’t really have to tell you, do we? Well, we will… The American Veterinary Medical Association warns that your vehicle can become up to 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature within an hour.

2. Electronics

Remember that your gadgets aren’t meant to take the heat. Always check your user manual, but most gadgets shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures over 113 degrees for any length of time. One more reason to grab a book to read by the pool, but certainly a great reason not to leave your phone or tablet inside your cooking car.

3. Plastic water bottles

First of all, good luck feeling refreshed when you take a sip of that warm water. But even worse, they might be releasing icky chemicals. According to a study from the University of Florida, when plastic water bottles are heated up, polyethylene terephthalate, the material they’re made of, releases the chemicals antimony and bisphenol A. You might know them as “BPA.” While, this chemical appears to be safe at low levels, it has been shown to cause some potential health risks. So, leave the bottles of water at home in your garage  or, even better for the environment, find a cool refillable one that’ll keep your beverage chilled.

4. Canned soda

Same concept (who wants to drink warm soda?), but different problem. Turns out that soda actually can explode in a hot car. Now, one MythBusters episode showed that soda has to be heated up to 300 degrees to explode, and while we like to say that our car gets that hot, it probably doesn’t. But that doesn’t stop lots of people from anecdotally sharing that they’ve had an exploding soda mishap. If your soda has been shaken, dropped, or rolled around the car, it appears that agitation could make it more susceptible to explosion. Better safe than sorry.

5. Cosmetics

Do you keep an “emergency” touch-up kit in your car for last-minute situations? You might want to reconsider. Some items, like lipstick and other stick cosmetics, are obvious, as they will melt into a messy puddle. But heat combined with some skincare formulations can actually “deactivate” some of the active ingredients that make them work. In addition, the FDA warns that temperature fluctuations, like high heat, can cause changes in the product’s color and texture. And an exploding can of hairspray? Yep, it’s happened.

6. Sunscreen

Wait, sunscreen? Don’t you put that on your body to prevent burns when it’s hot outside? Yes, but like some cosmetics, the ingredients can degrade and become less effective.

7. Chocolate

Just… don’t.

Safe and smart | Car safety


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.