Hot Hood

I just moved from Manhattan to Maryland for work and I need a reliable car. I found a 2005 Corolla CE with 97,600 miles that I am thinking about buying. When I went to pop the hood, I noticed that it was pretty hot. I checked the dash and saw that the temperature gauge was right in the middle between hot and cold. It was a pretty hot day. Should this concern me?

The only thing that you describe that might indicate a problem is When I went to pop the hood, I noticed that it was pretty hot.

"Pretty hot" can mean two totally different things to you and to me. Everything else would suggest everything is normal. 

Could you explain what exactly did you find different and troubling about the heat?

I am lost on what the question is. If the car had been running then it should be hot and the temp gauge should show it.

If the car hadn’t been running the temp gauge might just be showing whatever the temp was when it was last shut down. A lot of gauges just hold their last point and then change the next time the ignition is turned on. And if it was sitting in the sun the hood would feel hot.

So what is the question? There is no car problem that will spontaneously produce engine heat.

If you really want to know about the car, find a local independent mechanic and pay them an hour’s labor to check out the car.

The engine was running when I popped the hood. The hood just felt extremely hot when I touched it.

What does extremely hot mean? Did it burn you?

What color is the car, and was the sun shining?

Any dark colored car will soak up solar heat, and any sky-facing panel will be hot. Touch the roof. Is it as hot as the hood? Probably.

Unless you’re looking at a white car I think the sun is responsible for the hot hood.

Modern cars don’t have a way to let the heat from the engine escape. Many pre WW II cars and trucks had vents along the side of the hood. The last vehicle I remember having vents along the hood was the 1952 Ford pickup truck. Some cars do have a fiberglass blanket on the underside of the hood which does protect the wax job from excessive heat. Often, though, lower trim lines don’t have this. You might check to see on the Toyota you are consdering.

I don’t think there is anything abnormal about the car you are considering. I remember prewar cars where the hood had two sides and the sides were hinged in the center. On some cars, each side of the hood was also in two pieces and some motorists would remove the lower half of each side of the hood in the summer so that the engine heat would be dissipated (these were pre WW II cars and trucks).