Why you can trust Jerry
Jerry partners with some of the companies we write about. However, our content is written and reviewed by an independent team of editors and licensed insurance agents, and never influenced by our partnerships. Learn more baout how we make money, review our editorial standards, reference out data methodology, or view a list of our partners
- 1. Children, pets, and plants
- 2. Potential explosives
- 3. Food and medication
- 4. Water and wine bottles
- 5. Your purse or briefcase
- 6. Important documents
- 7. Your phone (and other electronic devices)
- 8. Sunglasses and other plastic objects
- How to find affordable car insurance
Load full table of contents
Things you should not leave in your car include children and pets, food, medication, your purse, and important documents.
Many of us treat our cars like extensions of our living spaces—but cars are not living rooms. They move, their interiors experience extreme temperatures, they contain toxins such as oil and gas. And, as FBI and car insurance statistics reveal, cars are fairly easy to break into.
To make sure you never return to an unpleasant surprise, the car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry has compiled some common things that should never be left in a car. Some of them are obvious, but some may surprise you!
1. Children, pets, and plants
Never leave children and pets alone in the car for any amount of time.
While it may be tempting to run into a convenience store while your toddler is sleeping in his car seat, it doesn’t take long for an incident like heat stroke, choking, or a car theft to happen. Leaving a child under the age of 12 alone in a car is also illegal in many jurisdictions.
The same is true of leaving a pet in a car—particularly in the summer months. The temperature inside your car can increase by up to 20 degrees within minutes on a hot day, even if you’ve cracked the window open for your best friend. Even five minutes could prove fatal for a dog, and leaving them alone could leave you open to fines depending on the law in your state.
Even hardy plants will suffer in a too-hot or too-cold car. Plan your trips to the nursery so that you can drive home soon after buying plants and shrubs.
2. Potential explosives
You might pause at leaving a lighter exposed on a dashboard on a sweltering day, but even a lighter in the center console or glove box can be a risk. While there is debate about exactly how hot it has to get inside a car before a lighter explodes, it’s best not to take any chances.
Most aerosol cans have warning labels that they should not be stored above 120 degrees. This is because heat increases the pressure inside the can and can cause it to explode.
Even if your city doesn’t reach triple-digit summer heat, keep this in mind: on a 95-degree day, the cabin of a parked car can easily reach 105 degrees in just 10 minutes. So if you’re planning to spend the afternoon at the beach, don’t leave your can of hairspray hanging out in the backseat.
Key Takeaway Even in cooler temperatures, car interiors heat up quickly when exposed to direct sun. Cars and trucks are not safe places to store aerosols and other flammables at any time of year.
3. Food and medication
While you may not leave your grocery bag in the car for any length of time, bacteria grows quickly on cold cuts and other prepared food on a warm day.
Cold weather can cause canned and bottled food and liquids to freeze and expand. If you leave a full bottle of soda in your car’s cup holder overnight, it will probably have burst by morning.
You might leave medication in your car for emergencies—but this isn’t a good idea, either. Most medications are meant to be stored at room temperature (typically between 68 to 77 degrees). Extreme heat and cold can make medications less effective or cause them to spoil.
4. Water and wine bottles
Plastic water bottles
Many plastic water bottles contain antimony and bisphenol A (BPA), both of which can cause possible adverse health effects. While bottled water is safe to drink, antimony and BPA can leach out from the plastic bottle into the water if the bottle is left in a hot car for an extended period.
Wine bottles and corks
Wine freezes when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. While you can thaw it out and enjoy it, there’s a risk of leakage or explosion—especially around the cork, In warm weather, the cork may expand and loosen, causing a mess.
Why run the risk of spoiling that $45 bottle of cab you brought for your friend’s birthday? Bring it inside.
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms · No fees, ever
5. Your purse or briefcase
Leaving your purse, briefcase, or wallet in your parked car is a big risk. It takes only a few seconds for an experienced car thief to break into a car.
If you must leave a bag or wallet in a car, put it under a sea, out of sight of a casual passerby.
6. Important documents
Someone who knows what they are doing can quickly and easily break into a car—and that pile of old tax forms or bank statements in your back seat may be just what they’re looking for.
Identity theft is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Don’t be tempted to leave your passport or other personal documents in your glove box.
7. Your phone (and other electronic devices)
Obviously, a cell phone or computer in full view might entice a burglar. But there’s another reason not to leave electronic devices in cars for extended periods: extreme temperatures.
Cold temps can drain the life of your battery and damage circuit boards and screens. And heat is a natural enemy of electronics. There’s a reason your cell phone turns off when it gets too hot!
8. Sunglasses and other plastic objects
High heat inside a car’s cabin can warp plastic objects, including sunglass lenses. In addition, the metal on glasses may become so hot that it causes burns.
Instead of casually tossing your sunglasses on your dashboard, place them behind your visor. Many cars have designated storage spaces for such items.
How to find affordable car insurance
The next time you turn off the ignition and exit your car, take a look around. Don’t just walk away without considering whether any of these items on the list should be brought into your house or apartment.
And when considering car insurance, let Jerry do all the work for you.
Jerry is the super app that helps you save time and money on your car expenses, including insurance. Jerry browses quotes from more than 50 insurance companies to find you the best rates.
Once you pick a new policy, Jerry handles the paperwork to finalize it and helps you cancel your old one. The best part? The average Jerry user saves $879 per year on car insurance!
Haven’t shopped for insurance in the last six months? There might be hundreds $$$ in savings waiting for you.
Judith switched to Progressive
Saved $725 annually
Alexander switched to Travelers
Saved $834 annually
Annie switched to Nationwide
Saved $668 annually
“This app is all about savings! Jerry just saved me $193/month on my car insurance. They literally found me the cheapest policies out there and with better coverage! Seriously, just sit back and watch Jerry work its magic.” —Rachel B.