Leaving Guitar In a Hot/Cold Car: Is It Harmful?

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If you are a guitar player who has gigs in different places which require you to travel, or you just want to take your guitar wherever you go, you must be wondering if leaving your guitar in the car is okay.

Is leaving your guitar in a cold car okay? What about leaving it in the heat of the car? In this article we provide answers to these questions and the potential harm that might come from leaving your guitar in a hot/cold car, so continue reading.

Key Takeaways

  • High or low temperatures and sunlight exposure, while the guitar is left in a car, might ruin its quality.
  • If the air in the car is dry in cold temperatures, it will cause wood shrinkage to your guitar ruining its fretboard and other wooden parts.
  • When there is condensation in the cold car, the high humidity will cause wood swelling and harm the strings and electrical components of the guitar.
  • Leaving a guitar in a hot car will result in loose guitar parts, discolored body finish, and wood swelling.
  • If you have to leave your guitar in a hot or cold car it is recommended to keep it in a hardshell case and not leave it for longer than a few hours.

Is it okay to leave your guitar in a hot/cold car?

The simple answer to this question is no, especially not for a longer period of time. This is because leaving your guitar in a car, no matter if it is cold or hot, can harm its components and then ruin its playability as well.

The high/low temperatures and also exposure to the sun while your guitar is left in a car can ruin the overall quality of your guitar, no matter if it is acoustic, electric, or bass.

In the following paragraphs, we go into more detail about the potential risks of leaving your guitar in a cold or hot car.

Also Read: Differences of 12 Strings Vs. 6 Strings

Leaving a guitar in a cold car

When the temperatures are low and the weather is cold, naturally there will be some differences in the humidity of the air.

For example, in dry climate places when it is cold the humidity in the air is usually at a low level. So this means that if you leave your guitar in a cold car the air in it will be dry and this can be harmful.

When the humidity in the air is very low, especially in cold temperatures, it can cause wood shrinkage. So the fretboard of your guitar might shrink which will cause sharp ends of the frets to come out and make the guitar playing uncomfortable. Not only that, but this condition especially affects the overall shape of your guitar.

When it comes to acoustic guitars, they are especially prone to wood shrinkage, even more than electric guitars which are made of more solid wood. This is because acoustic guitars are made of hollow bodies, and so an environment with dry air such as a cold car is definitely not the best place to leave them.

Also, during cold temperatures, if the humidity in the air is at a high level, there could be condensation. Condensation can be also formed in a car so in this process, the car windows will be wet from the steam, hence more humidity in the car.

When there is a lot of humidity in the car and the guitar is left there, it will be harmed because the wood will absorb moisture from the air. This excessive moisture will make the wood swell which ruins the guitar’s shape.

Other than the wood swelling, high humidity levels can affect the guitar strings of any guitar and especially the electrical components of an electric guitar. The strings will get corrosion and will lose their playability because the sound will be bad when picking rusty strings.

The electrical components of an electric guitar, for example, the pickups, will also get harmed so later on the tones will sound wrong, and the pickups may lose their clarity.

Additionally, when the guitar is left in a cold car, it is likely that the temperatures will change and along with it, the humidity levels as well.

So because of these changes in temperature and humidity, your guitar will go through both shrinking and swelling of the wooden parts. When this is happening, there might be splits and cracks in the wood so the guitar’s look and quality will be ruined.

Leaving a guitar in a hot car

There can also be damage if you leave your guitar in a hot car. This is because usually in high temperatures and hot weather, the humidity levels are high. And as mentioned above, too much humidity is very harmful to the guitar because of wood swelling and corrosion to the metal parts.

Apart from this, there are also a few other potential risks of leaving your guitar in a hot car. For example, the glue that keeps parts of the guitar together such as the bridge and the nut can start to weaken in hot temperatures. This will result in loose guitar parts.

As we already mentioned when we talked about high humidity above, the wooden parts of the guitar will start to swell or expand in this kind of hot temperature.

The guitar parts that will suffer the most are the neck and fretboard which includes the guitar frets so they will also be harmed. The strings can get rusty due to corrosion, but they can also enlarge due to this extension. So in this case, the tones may sound flat and wrong so you will probably have to get a pack of new strings.

When the guitar is left in a hot car during hot weather, it is likely that it will also be exposed to direct sunlight. Being exposed to intense sunlight for a long time will harm the guitar.

The body finish of the guitar might change and fade due to the sunlight exposure. It can also damage the wooden parts especially the neck structure which will result in lowering the overall quality of the guitar.

Final thoughts

It is very harmful to leave your guitar in a hot or cold car because of the damage it can cause to the shape of the guitar and its wooden or metal parts.

But if you have to leave your guitar in a car, it is recommended to at least keep it in a case for more protection from the temperature and humidity. The best choice of a guitar case would be a hardshell one as they are more effective.

Also, if the weather is hot, to prevent sunlight exposure it is recommended to park it somewhere in a shade or a closed garage. You should also leave the windows at least a bit open to ensure airflow inside.

Despite the fact that it is wrong, if you have to leave your guitar in a car, try not to leave it for longer than a few hours because if you leave it for longer, in a few days it may be destroyed and hardly usable.

Whether you want to learn about guitars, guitar equipment or other instruments, Guitarsquid has all the answers.