If you’re someone who plays tennis multiple times per week, you might feel it’s easier leaving your equipment in the car.
Especially if you live in an apartment block or have off-street parking. It can be a bit of a walk from the car to the house.
Is leaving your rackets in the car a good solution? Is it harmful to the rackets to be left there in extreme weather?
It’s not recommended to leave your tennis rackets in the car for long periods. On hot days it can cause the racket strings to lose tension much faster than normal. If the racket is in full view, you are also putting yourself at risk of theft.
In this article I will discuss:
- How heat affects the tennis racket frame
- If strings lose tension whilst inside the car when it’s hot
- Whether it is safe to leave a tennis racket in the car during winter
- Where to safely store your racket in the car?
If you live in a cold climate, you may think there are fewer risks.
Further on I will be sharing some reasons as to why you shouldn’t leave rackets in the car in cold temperatures.
Is The Tennis Racket Frame Affected By Heat?
First, let’s discuss what effect heat will have on an aluminum racket frame. Aluminum as a material is renowned for its heat conducting qualities.
Aluminum is also the first choice for most power transmission lines.
If aluminum is used for power transmission lines, I think it will survive some heat in a car. This is because aluminum melts at around 1260 degrees Fahrenheit.
I would be very concerned if the temperature in your car was anything close to that.
Graphite is another material that is pretty tough when dealing with heat. The material is unique because of its thermal expansion properties.
It can be heated at very high temperatures without expanding much.
Graphite is also used as a fire-retardant material.
One example of this is graphite plates. These plates are usually installed in rooms to protect them from fire. Graphite plates are used on the walls of bank vault safes as well.
If you are still playing with a wooden racket for some reason, they will not hold out as well in the heat.
When wood is subject to extreme heat, it expands. Wood also moves a lot when moisture levels change.
Some tennis bags come with what is called thermoguard technology. Thermoguard bags are designed to protect the rackets from heat.
They come with a pack that absorbs moisture.
Thermoguard bags are designed to protect the rackets when in the car or on the court. They’re not there to be used as a method to let you leave your rackets in the car for longer than needed.
Thermoguard bags are designed primarily to protect the strings of the racket more than the frame itself.
Will Strings Lose Their Tension In A Heated Car?
I have already mentioned thermoguard bags and how they are designed to protect racket strings in heat.
But how will the strings react if the racket is left in a heated car for a while?
The strings will be more vulnerable to heat than the frame itself. This is the case regardless of the type of string you have.
Some strings will react more to the heat. The natural gut will be the worst.
Natural gut is manufactured from dried fibers taken from cow intestines. The natural gut is one of the best strings in maintaining tension.
The downside is that it is more vulnerable than other types of string to heat because the material is so soft.
The natural gut is susceptible not just to heat but rain too. So when the strings get wet, they will begin to weaken even more.
Both extreme heat and extreme cold will negatively affect the strings and their tension. Heat will do more damage, though.
Extreme heat can cause the strings to lose tension very fast. Unfortunately, there is not a single string that will be 100% resistant to the effects of heat.
Strings left in the heat for a long period will also go brittle. This means that their durability is reduced, and the odds of them breaking increase.
In extremely cold temperatures, higher tension strings are more likely to break.
If you’re wondering whether string savers will make much of a difference, the answer is no.
String savers are made to reduce damage by decreasing the friction between strings. However, as the strings won’t be moving while sitting in your car, they will make no difference.
Your best bet is to keep your rackets in a temperature-controlled environment as much as possible. Only take them out when you are actually on your way to play.
Can I Leave A Tennis Racket In The Car In Winter?
You can leave your rackets in the car in winter, but it again comes with risk.
The part of the racket most at risk is the strings. In these cold temperatures, the strings stiffen up. When this happens, the risk of them breaking increases.
Softer strings such as multifilament are more resilient in these conditions.
I’ve never personally experienced this but have heard stories of people who have had their strings break in the car.
They have left their racket in the car overnight and come back the next morning to find the strings have popped.
Having said that, I do live in Northern Norway, so it is unlikely you will be dealing with colder temperatures.
I know some people who have had to leave their rackets in the car for several hours trying to insulate them.
They use things like fluffy blankets. Even so, this will offer little protection if it is less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
When I have left my rackets in the car overnight, I find that it doesn’t take long for them to get a normal feeling again.
Once I start hitting with them, they soon warm up and loosen.
I can only assume that the people who have had string breaks were on the brink of popping before they put them in the car.
Chances are a few more hard shots, and they’d have gone on their own.
As long as you’re using a modern aluminum or graphite racket, the frame itself will be fine in cold temperatures.
Where Can I Safely Leave The Racket In A Car?
The short answer is that there is nowhere in your car that you can safely leave your rackets.
Even if some parts are more protected from extreme temperatures than others, there is always the risk of theft.
I know of tennis clubs I used to play at growing up that targeted car parks. Thieves would break into the cars and take rackets, amongst other things, while people were away.
Let’s be honest, tennis is an expensive sport, and where there are expensive sports, wealth is nearby.
You can reduce the risk of theft by hiding them in a more secure location. For example, put them in the car’s trunk, and they are out of view.
Nonetheless, if you forget to lock your car, all it takes is someone to open it and look inside.
If you have to store your rackets while you are at work, the trunk is your best bet.
As there is no sunlight coming in, it will be cooler than other car parts.
I understand that sometimes you have to leave your equipment in the car if you’ve got a long day away from home.
But try to avoid it as much as you can. You are just putting your rackets and string at unnecessary risk.
Have you ever left your equipment in the car for a long time? Did you notice any difference in how the strings felt?
I’d also be interested to hear where you live, what the climate is like, and any effect on the strings.