How Hot Can It Get In A Car In Canada?

How hot can it get in a vehicle in the sun here in Grand Forks, BC?

In the early part of August 2005 we watched a news item from Toronto about a toddler left in a minivan on a very hot day. As part of the piece the news crew put a thermometer in a van and monitored it over the next half hour. The thermometer they used was identical to one we own and as I watched I wondered what it would read in our car in our driveway. So I did my own experiment.

the_carThis is our car sitting in our driveway. When this pic was taken it was overcast but normally the sun beats down from the passenger (far) side from early in the morning until mid afternoon.

 

thermometerThis is the thermometer we used.

Note that it only goes up to 50 degrees Celsius, so values above that are best-guesstimates. (but they’re not that far off 🙂

 

 

 

This is a graph of my results. Temperature is in degrees Celsius.

Time ºC ºF
12:00 26 78.8
12:05 30 86
12:10 35 95
12:15 36 96.8
12:20 38 100.4

(at this time it was moved to the head rest)

12:25 45 113
12:30 50 122
12:35 >55 >131
12:40 >60 >140

(at this time the windows were opened 2cm)

12:45 n/c no change
12:50 n/c no change
12:55 n/c no change
1:00 n/c no change

(at this time the windows were opened fully)

1:05 50 122
1:10 47 116.6
1:15 45 113
1:20 43 109.4

The experiment took place during the noon hour of Tuesday August 9, 2005.

Initially I set the thermometer down in the shade on the floor of the back seat. The windows were closed. Every 5 minutes I came out to read the temperature.

I found that the temperature on the floor stabilized at around 38ºC (100.4 ºF) so after a while I moved it up to the headrest – about the height of the driver’s neck … where I found that the temperature rapidly climbed off the scale – meaning way past 50ºC (122ºF) !!

As far as I can tell it was over 60ºC which means more than 140ºF … and it didn’t drop much after I opened all the windows about two fingers worth (nearly an inch). It only dropped after I’d opened all the windows all the way down. And at that it was still 5ºC hotter than the floor.

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