5 common items you shouldn’t keep in your car

three young adults taking sunscreen from the boot of their car

Danny Baggs

Posted April 17, 2023

Cars transport plenty of goods and personal items, but they aren’t suitable for everything. Here are five surprising things you shouldn’t keep in your car.

The next time you get into your car, take a quick look around the cabin. What do you keep in your car? It’s likely that there will be quite a few items lying around, whether they’re in your glovebox, centre compartment, seat pockets, or the boot.

While you should always keep a well-stocked car safety emergency kit handy in the car with your Emergency Roadside Assistance details, it may surprise you to learn that not everything is suitable for keeping in your car due to high interior temperatures and increased risk of theft. Here are the items you need to avoid leaving in your car.

Things to avoid keeping in your car


Apply your sunscreen before you leave home or take your bottle with you after you park, because keeping sunscreen in your car isn’t the best idea. Unfortunately, the active ingredients in sunscreen break down when exposed to heat. Over time, the lotion will become less effective until it is pointless to apply, as it won’t be protecting you from the sun.

Glasses and sunglasses

Don’t keep glasses or sunglasses in your car. Even if you have specific lenses for driving, take them with you when you leave. Overheated cars can warp plastic frames, permanently damaging the fit, and make metal frames scorching hot against your skin.

By leaving your glasses or sunnies on the dashboard, you could also be unintentionally be setting up a fire hazard: sunlight through the windshield shining through the lenses is similar to catching the sun with a magnifying glass.

Designer frames left on your dash is also a security risk, as opportunistic thieves can spot them and may break into your car.

sunglasses lying on a car's dash

Sunglasses and glasses can have their frames warped in hot cars. Image: Supplied



Avoid keeping medications in your car, whether they are prescriptions, over-the-counter pills, or vitamins. Many medicines must be stored at room temperature, which parked cars rarely remain at in any season. Heat, cold and moisture can all make medicines less effective, or even totally inactive. If you must travel with medication, store it in an air-conditioned compartment or wrap it in a cool, dry compress.

Aerosol cans

Never store aerosol (spray) cans in your car. Deodorants, air fresheners, hairspray, spray paints and other aerosol cans all have storage temperature recommendations printed on their sides for good reason. As the temperature increases, the pressure inside the can does too, running the risk of the can exploding and injuring someone, or ruining your car's interior. Their contents are also highly flammable.


laptop left in car

Electronics can overheat if left in cars. Image: Getty


Electronic devices

Many modern electronics run on lithium-ion batteries, which are sparking more fires inside the home when not charged correctly or damaged. High temperatures in the car can damage your electronics so that they can’t charge as efficiently or retain battery life. Worst of all, overheated lithium-ion batteries could leak, rupture, or even catch fire. Make sure to keep your electronics cool with air conditioning and take them with you when you leave your car. If they get too hot, wait for them to cool down before turning them on again.

Like sunglasses, leaving valuable electronics in the car presents an opportunity to thieves. Always take smartphones, laptops and other electronic devices with you when leaving the car.

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