Compact Disc Left In a Hot Car!
May 2013

What happens if you leave CD's in a car that's sitting in the sun?

Hmmm... let's take a look.

See that irrregular band that goes around the CD, about midway from the edge?  That's called "layer separation".    If you guessed it's not a good thing, you're right.

Sometimes the CD will still be readable, but not in every player. 

This can happen from just one afternoon in a hot car.

The CD was not even left in direct sunlight.  It was inside its jewel case, under a bunch of stuff, and covered by a white blanket in the car.  Think that would have been enough to protect the CD?  So did I, but nope.  I guess the whole car was a solar oven through and through.

The CD was still hot at 9:30 at night.  Inside the packaging.

I've seen this happen a few times with these.  It's really hard to predict.  Sometimes you can leave the discs in the car all year round and it won't happen.  With some of them, it will occur in just one day.  Maybe some CD's are better-made than others, but I don't think it's possible to know ahead of time.

The solution?  Keep the original CD's in a cool place at all times, and then make backup copies.  Listen to the copies in your car, and when those go bad, you can make more. 

I have been thinking about getting a sun shade, but I don't like the quality of most of them.  Instead I think I'll get a cooler and just leave it in the car.  They're also good for storing cameras and film.   Here's one that has extra insulation in the lid.  Maybe when I'm going out on a hot day I'll put a few of these in it and keep my music and film in some plastic bags.  Not that you'd listen to LP records in your car (how cool would that be), but a big cooler can fit those, too, if you want to take them somewhere.

I hope you found this article helpful.  More audio-related articles here.  Also check out my review of a good CD player for the traditional-style home stereo.

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