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Are Cars Insulated?

Are Cars Insulated?

Now that winter is finally here, you’re probably worried about having to run your car heater at full-on all times whenever you’re out for a drive.

But aren’t cars insulated? Shouldn’t they keep the heat in, and reduce heater costs? Well, the answer’s yes but also no.

Cars have minimal insulation as they are primarily made of thin sheet metal and plastic. Neither of these materials has good insulative properties and will lose heat quickly when the vehicle is not running, or an external heat source is not provided.

But don’t worry! There are several ways to make sure that your car is properly insulated if you’re looking to spend the night in your car, or go out on a drive on a cold winter night! 

So, make sure to read this article to the very end, and you’ll surely find the answer to your different queries!

Can having poor insulation be a bad thing?

If a car is poorly insulated, it could mean a lot of disadvantages for you as a passenger.

Poor insulation can lead to engine noise as well as other external sounds like traffic leaking into the passenger cabin and being clearly audible, even with the windows rolled up. 

This added noise can not only lead to more road noise than wanted but also a cold night should you ever need to sleep in your car!

Excessive heat or cold can also make driving conditions uncomfortable or dangerous.

How to add additional insulation to a car?

If you’re planning to spend the night in your car, or maybe you’re just not happy with the car’s current level of insulation, then here are some helpful tips to improve your car’s insulation.

The basics involve just using blankets and comforters and covering the windows of the car with them. 

You can use different things to attach these to the windows, like tension rods, clips, or clothespins. 

This will help trap some heat within the car and might make it warm enough for a comfortable sleep on a night with slightly chilly temperatures.

If you’re going for a more permanent solution, we’d advise getting insulating tape, like Reflectix. 

This is an insulation tape that you can that has one plain side and one plain side. 

The reflective side repels the heat, so place it in such a way that it either keeps the heat out or keeps it in.

If your main aim is to keep the heat in, especially if you live in a colder region, then have the reflective side towards the interior of the car.

On the other hand, if you want your car to be cooler, then have the Reflectix aimed towards the exterior of the car, in order to repel incoming heat.

Try to use any spare pillows and comforters you have to improve the heat-trapping inside the car.

Memory foam mattresses are great, and any sleeping pads designed for winter are also great options.

Insulating the car seats is also a great option, and you can check out different mattresses that are small in size that can be fitted onto your car seat in order to make it warmer.

Insulating windows can also be achieved by getting them tinted. 

Some types of tinting allow for heat to be repelled, meaning you can essentially make your car warmer or cooler.

Is sleeping in a car warmer than a tent?

As we mentioned earlier in the article, cars are usually not that well insulated, and tents are usually made out of insulating material designed to keep heat in. So, that does make sleeping in a tent warmer than sleeping in a car. 

You can also run a small heater inside a tent, making it a better experience. This is mainly because tents have double insulated layers of walls.

Sleeping in a tent is better than sleeping in a car for a number of reasons.      

Tents are usually smaller, yet more spacious than car interiors. Cars aren’t designed to accommodate sleeping and are more focused on being more aerodynamic. 

You can easily stretch and relax in a tent while sleeping in a car will usually have you waking up aching from a night of bad sleep.

The car’s seats are also usually leather or some other material that doesn’t absorb sweat, so waking up in a pool of sweat isn’t unheard of if you go to sleep within your car.

Tips of sleeping in a car

If you are going to be spending the night in your car, here are some helpful tips to make the experience better.

Use the car heater to heat up the car, but don’t keep it running for long periods of time. 

This can reduce the oxygen levels in your car if the windows are fully rolled up, and can be a serious hazard. 

Always keep windows rolled down an inch or two before you sleep, so there is proper ventilation.

It’s always handy to keep some heat packs in the car if you’re going to be spending a night out, and hand warmers will be a great way to keep you warm in those chilly nights!

Keep a spare sleeping bag in the boot of your car if you are considering spending the night out, since getting into a sleeping bag will make heat retention easier, and will be cheaper than having to buy a full mattress or comforter.

Insulating yourself

If you are considering insulating your car because of the weather, a cheaper and more convenient way of fighting against the cold is to just pack up on warm clothes before you leave.

Dressing up in layers of clothes is a must, along with a proper beanie or a hat. And keep extra pairs of socks with you.

If you’ve been wearing a pair for the whole day, they can actually make your feet colder, since they would be sweaty, but won’t be drying either. 

A good habit is to keep a pair handy in the car and change into them before you sleep.

Final thoughts

Well, there you have it! Perhaps your answer to the question, “are cars insulated?” has been answered. 

We also made sure to include a lot of helpful information, so you have any other queries answered as well.

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!