Lighter shades of paint get pretty darned hot, too.
Here’s a video we suspect all of you in Motor1.com land will find extremely interesting. Everyone knows that darker colours absorb more heat, while lighter colours reflect heat. If you are not a believer in science, put on a pair of shorts and plop down on black leather seats in a convertible that’s been sitting outside in the sun all day. That should give you all the proof you need.
This clip from MikesCarInfo on YouTube takes that rather painful approach to the subject and literally visualizes it. Armed with a FLIR camera that detects heat, he approaches a row of Toyota Highlander SUVs that appear identical save for the colour. Now, we know the darker colours will be hotter, but exactly how much hotter is really surprising. As luck would have it, black and white Highlanders were parked side-by-side, and the camera registered a full 7.7-degree difference between them. Specifically, the bonnet of the Black Toyota was upwards of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, while the white Highlander only showed 45 degrees.
Gallery: FLIR Car Color Heat Test
Those shades are certainly at opposite ends of the spectrum, but the clip also takes a close look at SUVs painted light gray and silver – two colours we’d expect to deflect about the same amount of heat as white. In fact, the gray Toyota was nearly as hot as the black one, with 63 degrees showing up on the FLIR camera. The silver SUV was cooler but still registered 54 degrees – significantly hotter than pure white.
According to the video, these SUVs hadn’t been driven recently so the heat on the bonnet shouldn’t be engine-related. That’s supported by the glimpses we get of the roofs, which aside from those with glass moonroofs appear to have temperature readings similar to the bonnets. Could the metallic nature of the silver and gray finishes hold more heat than a plain shade of white?
In any case, this neat video definitely shows how a dark-coloured car can be your best friend in winter, and your worst enemy in summer.