Will a black car with leather interior get too hot in the summer?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 2003

Dear Tom and Ray:

I desperately need your help. My dear husband of 40 years has given me the privilege of choosing a brand-new car. Everything was going so well, until it came to my choice of color. I chose an Accord EX in black with a gray leather interior. My husband flipped and said that the leather is too hot and the color is far too hot for our Southwest climate. Has anyone ever done a study of light vs. dark colors and heat? I agree that the black might be a smidgen hotter, but I think the leather will be just as cool. My husband also thinks I will look like a drug dealer, but with a license plate that reads "MOM 11," I don't think that will be a problem. The youngest of our 11 children is off to college soon, and I need your approval so I can get my black Accord EX! -- Nancy

TOM: Well, Nancy, first of all, congratulations on getting that 11th brat out of the house. Good work!

RAY: There have been studies on car colors, and here's what they've found. Black cars do get hotter than light-colored cars because the darker colors absorb heat rather than reflect it. So you can expect a black Accord to be a little hotter inside than a white Accord.

TOM: And while we don't know of any studies on this per se, in our experience leather seats do get a lot hotter than cloth or velour seats when exposed to the sun. In fact, on hot summer days, if you're wearing shorts, you might hear a brief sizzle when you sit down. That would be the backs of your thighs browning.

RAY: But if that's what you really want, Nancy, who cares how hot it gets? So you keep a towel in the car and toss it on the seat when it's really hot out. Or you wear long pants. Or you wear some asbestos thigh flaps.

TOM: After 40 years of marriage and 11 kids, you have an absolute right to get any car, in any color and with any kind of interior you want. And if your husband gives you any guff, remind him that there are going to be a lot of grandchildren's diapers that need changing.

RAY: So you have our complete approval, Nancy. Enjoy your car. And the house. And having your refrigerator back ...

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