4 Reasons Why You Should Always Park Your Car in the Shade

Volkswagen Touareg park in the shade
2017 Volkswagen Touareg | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

In Germany, you might become known as a schattenparker, or a sissy who prefers to park in the shade. Over there, it’s apparently trendy to prefer to burn your tenders on hot leather seats in the summer time. This has to be one of the more absurd parking rituals since the face-first experience came into fashion in America, and here’s why.

Just because you don’t like burning your ass or hands on hot components doesn’t make you any less of a man, and in all actuality, avoiding scorching summer heat could save you and your pocketbook a sizable sum. UV rays, scorching temperatures, and lots of outsourced materials don’t always play nicely with one another, and when a car is involved, it typically gets magnified by the power of glass, and the resulting heat gets trapped in an enclosed space.

How many times have you been in a parking lot with someone and the driver parks their vehicle in direct summer sun when a fully functional spot of shade sits less than a stone’s throw away? You don’t want to tell them where or how to park their ride, but how much trouble could it be?

There are many legitimate arguments out there against the notion of parking a car in direct sunlight. It’s a simple fix that unfortunately is not always available, and in the land of strip malls and clear cut trees, the importance of seeking shelter is more important than ever. Here’s why parking in the shade like a proud schattenparker is always a good idea, regardless of what your macho German friends may think.

1. No one likes the smell of burnt ham

HR-V leather seats
Leather seats | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

It’s a hot topic for sure, but burnt thighs and rear-ends on leather is one of the worst experiences you can have in summer outside of going face-first down a slip-and-slide that doesn’t have any water on it. Do yourself and your nether regions a favor and park your car well out of direct sunlight, because even if you aren’t wearing a short skirt or some kind of European banana hammock, chances are that someone will at some point singe themselves.

2. Bring your driving gloves

Ford Focus steering wheel
Ford Focus steering wheel | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

However, you can always put a towel or an extra T-shirt down in order to drive home. But that leather wrapped steering wheel, on the other hand, becomes a Johnny Cash-sized burning ring of fire after so many hours of contact with direct sunlight, so if you want to spare those fingertips, steer clear of open lots and opt for some shade instead.

3. Breaking down isn’t just for engines

Widebody RC-F
Widebody RC-F | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Ever seen a car that looks like it has sat out in the sun for too long, slowly becoming more faded than Charlie Sheen during a Vegas trip in 1988? Cars that sit out in the elements for long periods of time are prone to all sorts of issues, and while fresh paint that’s blistering and peeling isn’t cheap, neither is realizing that your dash is cracked and all of your seats are faded.

4. Avoid the vapors

Lexus RX450H
Lexus RX450H | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Remember the outcry about using plastic bottles that have BPA in them? Turns out it wasn’t just your Nalgene — in our feature on the dangers of hot car plastics last year, we found that the BPA threat was present in your car’s cabin as well. For years, the government has failed to stress the dangers of exposure to molten hot plastics, so be sure to always park in the shade. As the plastics warm, potentially harmful aromas can be released and over time may cause serious damage.