Hand Sanitizer and Sunscreen Can Wear Out Your Car’s Interior

cracked, aging steering wheel
Are you the type to slather on sunscreen before you go out driving? You may want to rethink that practice and wait a bit after applying sunscreen before driving.

Hand sanitizer and sunscreen are two items that are hard on your car. Not to mention bug spray and assorted other chemicals and products. We all use some of these items, some of them liberally and often. (Sunscreen? In the summer? We don’t leave home without it, and we slather it on like crazy.)

Ford UK wants us to know about the effects of chemical wear on your car’s interior and how it’s trying to get around the problem. It seems that leather, plastics, and vinyl wear out faster when they come into contact with the compounds in products like sunscreen and hand sanitizer. If you’re seeing fading or cracking on the covering of your steering wheel, it’s probably due to this sort of chemical exposure.

Ford is finding new ways to test for chemical wear. The car company subjects a car’s interior to all manner of products to see what happens. The next step is to manufacture some sort of protective coating to act as a barrier and ward off this sort of damage.

Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what’s going on. In Turkey, for instance, Ford engineers were seeing more wear than in other countries. In the end, it had to do with the high level of ethanol in hand sanitizers produced in Turkey. But once they knew it was ethanol, they were able to figure out a protective coating to stave off damage.

Drivers may want to keep in mind that sunscreen, hand sanitizers, lotions, and other products can react with a car’s interior. You may want to try limiting your use of these items. Alternatively, try waiting a while between applications and spending time in your car.




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