Can You Leave a Laptop in a Hot Car?

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Key Takeaways:

  • Leaving a laptop in a hot car is generally not recommended as overheating can damage the device.
  • If you must leave a laptop in a hot car, power it down completely, remove the battery, keep it out of direct sunlight, park in the shade, and use an insulated bag.
  • Heat can damage laptop components like the battery, hard drive, plastic casing, and screen.
  • Laptops left in cars can reach temperatures over 100°F in just an hour, high enough to cause permanent damage.
  • Take precautions like powering down, removing battery, keeping in shade, and using insulation to reduce overheating risk.


With laptops becoming ubiquitous for work, school, and entertainment, many people find themselves needing to take their laptops on the go. This leads to the question – can you safely leave your laptop in a hot car, or will the heat cause damage?

This article will provide a comprehensive evaluation of the risks and precautions regarding leaving laptops in hot cars. Key factors like temperature thresholds, damage mechanisms, and preventative techniques will be analyzed in depth. The goal is to equip readers with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about transporting their laptops on hot days.

With expensive and sensitive electronics like laptops, heat is a major concern. The information provided here will help identify the risks involved and how to best mitigate them. By understanding the effects of high temperatures on laptop components, as well as techniques for keeping laptops cool in hot car environments, readers can maximize the safety and longevity of their device.

Whether you occasionally need to make a quick stop or regularly have your laptop in the car, this article explores the essential considerations for protecting your laptop from heat damage. Keep reading to discover research-backed insights on laptop temperature limits, real-world testing results, and actionable tips.

How Does Heat Damage Laptops?

Excessive heat buildup inside a laptop can damage many components. Some key ways heat can damage laptops include:

Battery Degradation

  • Laptop batteries degrade faster at high temperatures, losing maximum capacity over time.
  • Can cause batteries to swell, leak, or even catch fire in extreme heat.

Hard Drive Failure

  • Excessive heat causes hard drive components to expand and malfunction.
  • Heat-related hard drive failures are one of the most common laptop issues.

Warping and Cracks

  • The plastic outer casing can warp, melt, or develop cracks in high interior heat.
  • Heat damage to the physical chassis can further impact internal parts.

Display Damage

  • Screens and backlighting can be damaged by high temperatures.
  • Dead pixels, discoloration, and total display failure can occur.

Component Glitches

  • ICs, memory, processors, and other parts can malfunction, glitch, or fail in extreme heat.
  • Thermal throttling deliberately slows components to reduce overheating damage.

At What Temperature Do Laptops Start Getting Damaged in Cars?

Studies have shown that the interior temperature of cars left in the sun can exceed 100°F within just one hour, and reach as high as 130-170°F after several hours. Most laptop manufacturers warn against storing laptops above 95°F over extended periods. Thus, the interior of a hot car can absolutely reach temperatures that put laptops at risk of damage.

One field test by researchers at the University of Nevada Las Vegas examined interior car temperatures with laptops left inside. Within 1 hour, the car interior reached 116°F and the laptop then registered 125°F internally. In just 20 minutes, the laptop temperature rose by 44°F. The research demonstrates how quickly laptops can overheat to dangerous levels in hot car environments.

While high temperatures don’t necessarily guarantee immediate failure, the risk of laptop damage definitely increases significantly as interior temps exceed 100°F and component temps surpass 130°F. For long term reliability, laptop operating temperatures should ideally remain below 95°F.

How Long Can You Leave a Laptop in a Hot Car?

The maximum safe time span for leaving a laptop in a hot car depends on many factors like exterior temperature, direct sun exposure, ventilation, and shade. However, as a general guideline:

  • Leaving a laptop in a hot car for over 2 hours is extremely risky in summer heat, with damage likely.
  • More than 1 hour still presents high risk, especially in extreme heat 90°F+ or direct sun.
  • Ideally laptops should not be left for more than 30 minutes in temperatures above 80°F.
  • At lower external temperatures of 60-75°F, 1-2 hours may be safe if parked fully shaded.

Interior temperatures can spike rapidly, so a laptop that seems fine after an hour may still reach dangerous levels if left longer. It’s wise to err on the side of caution when leaving laptops unattended in vehicles. If possible, avoid leaving your laptop in a hot vehicle for more than an hour, and less than 30 minutes in more extreme heat conditions.

How to Leave a Laptop in a Hot Car Safely?

If you absolutely must leave your laptop in a hot car, there are some precautions you can take to minimize the risk of heat damage:

Completely Power Down

  • Shut down the laptop fully – even sleep mode generates heat.

Remove the Battery

  • Take out the battery to stop it producing heat inside the chassis.

Keep Out of Direct Sunlight

  • Park in shade or use sunshades to avoid direct sun heating.

Insulate with a Laptop Bag

  • Use an insulated, padded laptop bag to add protection.

Run the A/C Beforehand

  • Cool down the interior by running the A/C prior to leaving.

Place in Back Seat Footwell

  • Keep it low, shaded, and insulated in the back seat footwell.

While not guaranteed, these precautions can significantly improve the odds of avoiding heat damage when leaving a laptop unattended in a vehicle.

5 Common Questions about Leaving Laptops in Hot Cars

Can I leave my laptop in the car while I run into the store?

It’s not recommended, even for quick trips. The interior can heat up rapidly, well beyond safe laptop temps. Remove the battery at minimum or bring it with you.

What about leaving it in the trunk? Is that safer?

Potentially, as trunks often stay cooler than the cabin. But still very risky in summer or direct sun. The trunk can heat up quickly too.

Is it ok if I leave it in sleep mode instead of fully off?

No, sleep mode still generates some heat. Fully power down the laptop before leaving it unattended in a vehicle.

Can’t I just put it under a seat or cover it to keep it shaded?

Not enough – indirectly transmitted heat can still build up to unsafe levels. Keeping it as insulated as possible is important.

What temperature should prompt me to take extra precautions?

Use particular caution anytime the external temperature is above 80°F. Below 75°F may be ok for very short periods with shade, as long as the laptop itself doesn’t exceed 95°F.


In summary, leaving laptops in hot cars – even for short periods – can absolutely put your device at risk of serious heat damage. Component and chassis temps can quickly rise beyond safe operating limits in enclosed vehicle environments. To avoid potential laptop failure, either carry it with you or take key precautions like powering down, removing batteries, keeping shaded, and insulating. Understand your local climate and car interior heat buildup characteristics. With proper care, you can help keep your laptop functioning safely and avoid the costs of heat-induced repairs.

About The Author

Scroll to Top