10 Things Never to Leave in a Cold Car

Brrrr—baby, it’s cold outside! And it can get pretty cold inside, too, especially inside your car. When winter weather strikes, it can be tempting to rush right back into the warm house after running errands and put off unloading the car. But while you're thawing out indoors, groceries and other purchases left in your cold car could be in danger of irreparable damage, or they might be doing damage to the interior of your car. Here are just a few of the items that should never be left in a cold car.

Musical Instruments

Guitar in cold car

Guitars and other musical instruments that are constructed of wood can suffer serious damage in the cold. The wood can warp, split, or crack, and the strings may tighten or snap. Once an instrument has been damaged by freezing weather, it can be costly—and sometimes impossible—to repair.  

Related: Expecting Snow? Do These 7 Things ASAP


Bottled Water

Bottled Water in Cold Car

A standard 16.9-ounce bottle of water can freeze in as few as 30 to 45 minutes when the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can freeze even faster at lower temperatures. The water expands as it turns to ice and can crack the plastic bottle, leaving you with a wet mess to clean up when it melts. 

Related: 23 Brilliant Hacks to Help You Weather Winter


Canned and Bottled Soda

Soda Cans in Cold Car

Soda is mostly water, so it poses the same risk as a frozen bottle of water. That said, a can or bottle of soda can withstand cold temperatures for a bit longer than water because the sugar content lowers the freezing point. But if the container cracks or bursts, it will cause an even bigger—and stickier—mess.

Related: 8 Easy Ways to Winter-Proof Your Car


Cellphones and Computers

Electronics in cold car

It’s bad enough that someone might break into your car to steal your electronic devices, but the cold can be almost as devastating. That's because many of today’s gadgets contain lithium-ion batteries, which aren't designed to endure the cold. Repeated freezing and thawing can cause condensation inside the unit, shortening its lifespan and potentially voiding your warranty.

Related: 10 Places You’re Forgetting to Winter-Proof


Drugs and Medication

Prescription drugs in cold car

Many prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications lose their effectiveness when frozen. Take care not to leave medications in a cold car, especially insulin or other drugs that are in a liquid suspension, including eye drops and cough syrup.

Related: 9 Home Repair Remedies to Borrow from Your Medicine Cabinet


Household Cleansers

Dishsoap in cold car

Many cleaning supplies—including glass cleaners, dish soaps, and multisurface cleaners—are high in water content, which means that frozen conditions can cause these liquids to swell and crack the bottle in the process. Other types of household cleansers—including laundry detergent and floor cleaners—contain surfactants and polymers that may separate or clump when exposed to the cold, reducing or eliminating their effectiveness.

Related: 9 Products You'll Love—Even If You Hate Cleaning



Paint in cold car

Water-based and latex paints should never be left in freezing temperatures because the ingredients in the paint can freeze, expand, separate, and clump, rendering the paint virtually unusable for your next redecorating project.

Related: 11 Things Never to Keep in Your Garage


Canned Goods

Canned food in cold car

Nearly all canned vegetables and fruits are packed in water, which makes it just as risky to tote around canned corn as bottled water. Even if the can remains intact, the seals could break, allowing bacteria to get into the can and spoil the food. When in doubt, toss it out!

Related: 14 Pantry Goods That Basically Never Expire


Beer and Wine

Wine Bottle in Cold Car

You may have heard that that the alcohol content in beer and wine will prevent it from freezing. That's not exactly true. Although it takes longer, alcohol will eventually freeze—wine at 23 degrees, and beer at around 21 degrees Fahrenheit. Once that happens, those bottles will be just as prone to cracking and breaking as any other. 

Related: 11 Weird Ways to Use Wine



Eggs in cold car

Eggshells are designed by Mother Nature to keep harmful bacteria from damaging the precious cargo inside. But when eggs freeze, the shells will often crack, allowing germs to enter the eggs and cause them to spoil. Even if the shells do not appear to be cracked, eggs that have been frozen won't look or taste like you're used to—the yolks become thick and don’t mix well with other ingredients.

Related: 30 Things You Never Buy at the Grocery Store—But Should


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