How To Keep A Laptop Cool In A Hot Car

Laptops always struggle with overheating, especially when you use intense and complex applications. This is why combining a laptop and a hot car is never a good idea. However, you may have to leave your device in the car for some time, so keep it as cool as possible to avoid overheating.

To keep your laptop cool in a hot car, use an insulated laptop case, place it away from sunlight and in the trunk, ensure it is shut down, and remove the battery if possible. Consider backing up essential data beforehand, and don’t turn it on while it’s still hot after returning to it.

In the rest of this article, I will cover the above ways and provide some additional ones. Moreover, I will offer extra tips to ensure your laptop doesn’t get overheated.

A laptop is placed on a car's front seat.

1. Make Sure the Laptop Is Not in Standby Mode

Typically, when you stop using the laptop for a moment, you simply close it and move on.

When you don’t shut your device down, it stays in standby mode, which is why it powers on directly after you return to it, with every program open exactly where you left it.

The standby mode is great because it allows you to continue where you left off without missing a beat. On the other hand, it does require the laptop to work more, which can be a problem when you leave your device in a hot car.

Even the standby mode can overheat your laptop in such a situation, so it’s best to shut it down before leaving it in your car. To shut your Windows laptop down, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Start menu.
  2. Choose Power.
  3. Select Shut Down to turn off your computer. 

If you have a Macbook, go to the apple icon and then select Shut Down. Don’t forget to save your work before shutting your laptop down.

2. Do Not Put the Laptop Under Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight is the biggest enemy of your laptop. The inside of the car is hot enough, to begin with, but contact with direct sunlight is incredibly dangerous for any electronic device, especially in warm weather.

If you leave your laptop under direct sunlight for long enough, you might not even be able to turn it back on for a while.

So, the first objective you should have when leaving your device behind in your car is to keep it away from direct sunlight. This means keeping it away from any windows, for starters. 

If you can, place your laptop in a low position. Put it on the floor rather than the seats to make it hard for sunlight to reach it.

Placing it low in the car also ensures more safety since people cannot see it from your windows. Sometimes, if your laptop is visible enough, someone might try to break into your car and steal it.

However, when you leave your laptop in your car for a long time, direct sunlight might reach it at some point during the day since you cannot predict precisely where it will be.

In this case, consider covering your laptop with a thick cloth. Preferably, this cloth should be white to reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it.

3. Purchase an Insulated Laptop Case

Like with most problems that need a solution, a product is designed to solve them nowadays.

Place your laptop in an insulated laptop carry case, which will considerably lower the risk of something happening to your laptop in a hot car.

I would also recommend choosing a reflective silver or white exterior to maximize its effectiveness. Avoid dark colors that draw more heat to the case’s surface.

An example of such a product would be a PHOOZY Thermal Insulated laptop case (Affiliate link to Amazon).

Of course, there are many more of these kinds of products, and they seem like one of the most effective solutions to keeping a laptop safely in a hot car.

It will also work great for other electronic products like iPads and phones.

This is even more true if you keep your laptop in one of these cases and inside the car’s trunk. This also keeps prying eyes away from your equipment.

4. Put Your Laptop in an Insulated Bag or Container

If you have no time to think about special insulated laptop cases, consider using an insulated bag for your laptop. Plenty of bags and containers will keep your device cool even in a hot car.

You can use an insulated backpack, which, like the laptop case, is designed to keep the contents inside at a certain temperature, regardless of the outside environment. 

If you don’t want to buy extra special bags, you can always put your laptop in a cooler box, even without any nitrogen cooling cartridges.

A cooler box provides enough protection for your laptop for a long time.

Make sure to keep the insulated bags or the cooler box away from sunlight to stay cool for as long as possible.

5. Buy Sun Shades for Your Car

A car's sun shade is being pulled up to cover the inside of the window.

As I explained above, direct sunlight can amplify the heat inside a car. Even if your laptop is inside a heat-proof bag or outside of direct sunlight, it can get affected by this heat, especially on a hot summer day.

Sun shades can help keep your car much cooler. If the inside of your vehicle is protected by direct sunlight, it will not be as hot as it could be otherwise, and, as a result, the devices inside will stay cooler.

Understandably, this is an advantage for you, too. Getting inside your car in such hot weather can be highly uncomfortable, but sun shades make it easier.

Even though the shades shield the inside of your car from the sunlight, they can’t block it entirely. Keep the laptop cool and protected even if you put sunshades in your car.

The shades are more of an extra measure, but they alone can’t do much to keep your laptop from overheating.

6. Place the Laptop in the Trunk of Your Car

It’s known that the trunk stays cooler than the rest of your car.

Since it has no windows and is covered by multiple layers, it can maintain a more stable temperature than the inside of your vehicle, especially if it has a light color.

Even if you use sunshades, you won’t be able to match the temperature of your trunk.

As a result, the trunk becomes a good place to put your laptop in, so it can stay cool during a hot day.

Consider placing your laptop inside the trunk before you leave your car. To be extra sure, put it in an insulated bag if you have one.

7. Remove the Battery if It’s an Option

An older removable style battery.

The battery is the most sensitive part of your laptop, especially regarding temperature.

High temperatures can severely damage the laptop batteries, causing different chemical reactions that can reduce the lifespan or even make the battery stop working entirely.

A damaged battery can also cause issues with the rest of your laptop.

When leaving your laptop in your hot car, consider detaching the battery if that’s an option for your particular model.

Some laptops allow you to remove the battery and then reattach it with no problem. Here’s how to do it in a few steps: 

  1. Make sure your laptop is powered off and close it.
  2. Place the device upside-down so that you’re facing the bottom.
  3. Check for a battery latch; it’s a small mechanism that allows you to move it in two directions. If you can’t find the latch, your laptop doesn’t have a removable battery and detaching it will require an expert.
  4. Once you find the latch, move the mechanism opposite the direction it’s in and hold it until you can feel that the battery is detached.
  5. Remove the battery carefully.

After you remove the battery, you can take it with you, so it doesn’t stay inside the hot car.

Alternatively, you can leave it somewhere cool where the rest of the laptop doesn’t fit. What’s important is that it stays away from the rest of the laptop, avoiding more damage.

8. Make Sure the Laptop Is Ventilated

So far, I’ve discussed scenarios where your laptop is closed and shut down properly, but what if you need to keep your computer on standby inside your car?

Sometimes you may need to step out of your car quickly and leave your laptop open so that you can continue to work once you return.

As mentioned above, leaving the laptop on standby is a bit riskier since it can overheat more easily.

However, the device has its own cooling system that can help in this case. You should make sure the laptop is well-ventilated while it’s on standby.

A cooling pad would help in this case. Cooling pads ensure that the laptop’s ventilation system works well and is not blocked by anything.

Don’t place it directly on top of a car seat because the fabric can hinder ventilation and contributes to overheating.

Ideally, you won’t have to leave your laptop on standby mode inside your car.

The computer can quickly overheat even with the built-in ventilation system if the temperatures are high enough.

However, consider the solution if you have no other choice. You may want to open all your windows with a small gap to lower the risk if you’re away for a short period.

9. Back Up Important Information

While all the above advice is helpful and could save your laptop from overheating in most cases, it might not be enough if you live in extremely hot climates.

The temperatures inside your car can get as high as 130 to 172 degrees Fahrenheit (54.5 to 77.8 degrees Celsius), which can severely damage your laptop’s battery, even with protection.

In these cases, there’s not much you can do except leave the laptop at home.

However, if this is not an option, ensure your information is not lost if your battery overheats and causes your laptop not to turn on again.

You can easily back up your data using an external storage device connected to your laptop or a cloud, allowing you to access your information wherever and whenever.

If you have sensitive or valuable data on your computer that you must access at any time, back up your laptop regularly.

This way, even if it overheats, you know your data is safe and accessible via another device.

10. Don’t Try To Turn Your Laptop on Immediately After Leaving It in a Hot Car

A laptop is being used in a car.

After you’ve left your laptop in your car, you might need to use it again soon. However, you must wait a bit before returning to using your device as you usually do.

Even if you’ve taken several measures, your computer might be overheated. Turning it on and forcing it to work can damage the battery and slow you down even more.

To ensure that your laptop does not overheat, you must wait and turn it on after it cools down.

Keep your device in a ventilated and cool area and feel its temperature. If it feels hot, wait until it cools down a bit more.

You can turn on your laptop and start work again after it doesn’t feel hot to touch. 

Final Thoughts

Typically, you should avoid leaving your laptop in your car, especially when it’s warm or hot outside.

Overheating can severely damage the battery, changing its chemical reactions and shortening its lifespan.

Consequently, it can also damage the rest of your device irreversibly.

However, if you have no choice, you can leave your laptop in your car, keep it out of sunlight, cover it, and leave it in the trunk.

Moreover, you can put it in an insulated bag or remove the battery and keep it with you. In any case, back up your data to ensure nothing gets lost.