Is a black car hotter than a white car?


The interior and exterior color combo of your car means many things. Primarily, it is an expression of what you like and what you don’t like. Besides this, there are lots of ramifications associated with the interior and exterior color combos such as heat dissipation, resale value, and maintenance.

Yes, a black car retains way more heat than a white car does, but there are ways one can negate this. If you opt for window tints for example, you are likely going to lower the interior temperature significantly, so much so that a dark-colored interior does not really matter.

Both the exterior and interior color options play a major role when it comes to heat dissipation. A leather black steering wheel for example retains more heat than a white one. But if you use sun protection for your dashboard and steering wheel, you ought not to worry.

This is because a brightly colored surface reflects way more light/heat, and a dark-colored surface does not. It’s called a thermodynamic principle. If you don’t believe it, go outside in a black shirt during the summer, and you will.

Thermodynamic color principle

Before we dwell deeper into the differences between black and white-colored interior and exterior cars, it is essential for you to understand how the laws of thermodynamics apply in this situation. Color is essentially a light reflection. More precisely, a red car reflects every ‘’color’’ out of the light spectrum besides red.

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It’s the same with blue for example which reflects all light besides blue. Of course, this is not a ‘’black and white’’ type of thing (pun intended), and these are not as precise. But, in general, this rule applies to every color besides white, silver, and black which are somewhat nonconformists.

White colors reflect the entire spectrum of light, silvers reflect a majority of light and darker colors, black especially, absorbs the entire light spectrum. The absorbed light is transferred to heat, which means that the more ‘’light’’ it absorbs, the more of it is being turned into heat.

As such, a brightly colored surface absorbs less energy, and thus the surface is not as hot. On the other hand, black retains almost all of it, and this results in higher surface temperature. This is universal, so no matter if it’s a shirt or a car, such rules apply.

Car interior and exterior thermodynamic properties

If you go out in a black shirt during the summer, you are definitely going to feel the heat more than if you were wearing a white shirt. But cars are different because they are made out of metal which is a great heat conductor. This means that this rule of thermodynamics affects cars exponentially.

The color of the interior is not the only reason why some cars absorb heat better than others. Another important aspect is the material itself. Leather for example is a lot denser compared to cloth, and as such, leather absorbs and conducts more heat compared to a cloth interior.

If you’ve ever sat in a leather seat while the car was sitting in the sun, you have definitely felt it. If your steering wheel and your gear knob are upholstered with leather, they are likely going to become immensely hot if exposed to the sun for a while.

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That being said, be sure to invest in a set of decent window tints or a decent exterior/interior car cover. If you park your car in the sun regularly, be sure to cover your dashboard up because the sun can damage the surface due to continuous sun exposure.

The resale value associated with a car interior and exterior color

People are unique, and many of us love many things. But do you ever wonder why there aren’t all that many pink, orange, yellow, bright blue, or bright green cars around? After all, we often buy shoes, shirts, cellphones, and whatnot in all kinds of colors, but not cars.

In some areas in the world such as UAE for example, the vast majority of cars are white. This is partly because of the aforementioned principle of thermodynamics, but also because of the resale value. When it comes time to sell your car, color matters immensely, and if you paint your Focus in bright pink, chances are you never going to sell it.

That’s the reason why the vast majority of cars out there are either white, black, or gray. Sometimes you do come across a red or a blue car, but it’s usually a more subdued color. Besides supercars such as Lamborghinis for example, most cars are either black, white, or gray.

FAQ Section

What’s the most common interior and exterior color combo?

If you’ve ever wondered about which car color combo is the most common, it is black on black. It’s worth mentioning that the majority of car interiors are black.

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This is because resale matters, and because it arguably looks the best. Besides this, black interiors don’t reflect on the windshield, and brightly colored surfaces do. Only a small percentage of car interiors are either white, gray, beige, brown, cream, or red.

Should we be more creative with our car color choices?

Yes, we most definitely should. Cars are not just tools, and that’s a fact. Cars are means of expression, status, and success. They are also a way of treating yourself for closing in on a great business deal. Furthermore, cars are a great travel companion and a bank of priceless memories.

As such, we should express ourselves more. As humans we like individual things, things that are and feel ‘’ours’’. A car enthusiast for example is more likely to paint a car in an uncommon color than a ‘’regular’’ person. But don’t go all out and buy a purple and gold car if you are not Snoop Dogg.

What if my car is not either black or white?

The temperature differences between a white and a black car are noticeable enough for them to be worthy of mentioning. On the other hand, if your car is orange or red, or whatever, the temperature differences are not all that noticeable, and thus, not worth mentioning.

No matter the color, there are lots of ways to keep your car cool. A car cover, shaded parking, dashboard blankets, window tints, monochromatic glass… All of these techniques make a huge difference when it comes to car temperature.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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