Morgan Pritchett
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How To Save Money by Parking in the Shade

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Aerial view of parking lot
Photo: Jeffrey Smith via CC

Do you try to park as close as possible to the front of the lot when you’re out on a shopping trip? Are you one of those “lot sharks” that cruises around slowly as people exit the store? If so, you may be losing money without even knowing it. How? You’re not parking in the shade!

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Other than wasting gas by driving through every aisle trying to get the closest spot to the door, parking in the front of a lot usually means your car is sitting in direct sunlight. Now that temperatures are rising across the country, it’s important to know the effects that extreme heat can have on your car.

How does heat damage a car?

There are a handful of ways that heat can hurt your vehicle. The most obvious damaging effect the sun and heat can have on your car is its exterior. Extended direct sunlight can cause your car’s paint to crack and fade, according to State Farm. By parking in the shade, you’re keeping the paint job looking as fresh and vibrant as possible for longer.

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible with cracked red paint
Imagine how cool this car would look without that cracked clear coat!
Photo: artistmac via CC

Interior components that can be affected by extreme heat include the dashboard, leather seats, steering wheel, and any personal items left inside on an especially hot day. Just like the paint, heat can cause the dash and other surfaces to dry and crack. If you must park in direct sunlight, it’s a good idea to have a sunshade up across your windshield as well as shades for your side mirrors.

But it’s not all cosmetic issues that are caused by the beating rays of the sun. Consumer Reports editor Jeff Bartlett reports that higher temperatures actually cause more issues for car batteries than the harsh chill of winter. Along with the battery struggling in the heat, the air conditioning unit has to work especially hard to keep the interior cool.

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How does parking in the shade save money?

By parking in the shade, you’re helping your car stay cool. If it’s sitting at a moderate temperature, it doesn’t have to do as much work. As a result, parts like the battery and air conditioning unit last longer and don’t need to be replaced or repaired as often. You’ll also save the interior from looking crusty and won’t have to get it detailed or resurfaced.

Moral of the story: If there’s a shady area in a parking lot, try to leave your car there (legally), no matter how far away from the door it may be. You’ll get some exercise and save some cash while doing so.