Let’s face it: we all spend way too much time in our cars. Whether it’s commuting to work, heading to the grocery store or running an endless list of errands, our vehicles generally undergo pretty heavy usage. And over time, that can lead to all sorts of problems. These ingenious car hacks, then, offer solutions to pretty much everything that might affect your daily drive, along with a few handy tips for making your commute that little bit smoother.
20. Speed up seat belt retractors
If your seat belt is pulling and retracting too slowly, you can shave precious seconds off your journey by speeding the mechanism up. Rather than replacing the retractor entirely, however, all you need is a cheap can of furniture polish. Spray it onto your belt, then pull and release the belt a few times to let the polish lubricate the retractor.
19. Use duct tape for a makeshift cup holder
Don’t have enough cup holders in your car? Or are they all full of old coffee cups that you’re probably, definitely going to clear out one of these days? Duct tape is your friend. Indeed, the roll is basically the perfect size for yet another coffee cup to fill up your car. Just pop it on the passenger seat, and maybe tape it down for good measure.
18. Clean your air vents with a foam paintbrush
Take a close look at the air vents in your car, and you’ll probably notice they’re clogged with dust. When you turn on the air conditioning, all that dust is wafting right into your face. So, you’ll probably want to pick up a foam paintbrush to dust it out. They’re small enough to do the job, and you can even wash and reuse them.
17. Repair dings with nail polish
Over time, your car is going to pick up the odd nick, scratch and ding to its bodywork. If you want to keep it looking pristine, you don’t have to spend a fortune. In fact, you can just use nail polish in a color that matches your car. It’s not just a short-term fix, either, as it lasts for years and protects your car from rust.
16. Keep food warm with heated seats
This is probably not the most environmentally-friendly car hack, but it works in a pinch. We just wouldn’t advise doing it all the time. Yes, if you really need to keep your food warm on the journey home – say, from that late-night McDonald’s venture – then you could always pop it on the passenger seat and turn on the seat warmer.
15. Remove dents with a plunger
Small dings aren’t the only thing you can fix at home – there’s also no need to pay out to get medium-sized dents removed. Indeed, as long as they’re smaller than a regular plunger, then you can use one to suck the affected area back to its normal shape.
14. Clean your headlights with toothpaste
That’s right – toothpaste isn’t just great for cleaning your teeth. Indeed, its gently abrasive properties, which help polish up your tusks, can also work wonders on car headlights. Simply clean the headlight with soap, then use a cloth to apply toothpaste and water. The results will literally dazzle you.
13. Quickly cool down your car without A/C
On those hot summer days, it’s no secret that your car practically turns into an oven. But if your A/C is busted, then there is another option to cool down your vehicle. Roll down the window on one side to let cool air in, then open and close the door on the other side several times to release the hot air.
12. Defrost your car using vinegar and water
We’ve all been caught off-guard by an unexpected freeze at one point or another. Instead of wasting time scraping the ice off your windshield, though, you could try spraying it with a mixture of vinegar and water. Indeed, the ice will start to dissolve straight away. And if you have advance warning of severe weather conditions, you can even spray it to prevent freezing.
11. De-ice locks using hand sanitizer
If the weather is so severe that your door locks have frozen shut, don’t panic just yet. Indeed, simply squeeze a few drops of hand sanitizer onto your key, then insert it into the lock. Its rubbing alcohol content will melt away the ice pretty much immediately, allowing you to get into your car and out of the cold.
10. Use a tennis ball to guide your parking
Many modern cars have sensors that take all the guesswork out of parking. However, there is a cheaper way to make sure you don’t damage your car – at least while parking in the garage. A simple tennis ball hanging from the ceiling can help you get lined up, and it will also let you know when to stop reversing.
9. Use a cereal dispenser as a trash can
If you’re tired of your car filling up with garbage, then you need some way of organizing it. A trash can would usually do the trick in your house, but that’s not exactly the most efficient use of space in a car. In steps the trusty cereal dispenser, then – small, thin and with a lid that seals shut to prevent spillages.
8. Prevent car windows from fogging up
Waiting for your windows to de-mist can be a drag. Thankfully, there’s a way to stop that frustrating fogging altogether – although it may seem fairly unorthodox. First, grab an old pair of socks. Then, fill one with kitty litter, wrap it with the other, and place them on your dash. The litter will absorb the moisture in the air before it ever gets chance to fog up your windshield.
7. Keep spare socks in the glove box
Preventing foggy windows isn’t the only use for socks in the car, however. Indeed, if your car gets stuck in icy conditions, you may need to give it a push. But what’s to stop you slipping everywhere too? Well, the socks. Yes, just slip them over your shoes, and they’ll give you much better traction in a pinch.
6. Prevent windshield wipers from freezing
Okay, so we weren’t done with the uses for socks. Yes, another amazing car hack for them is preventing your windshield wipers from freezing over in the winter. And it couldn’t be easier – just slide a sock over each blade. And for extra care, lift them up and away from the windshield first.
5. Keep kitty litter in your trunk for traction on ice
Yes, it’s not just socks that have multiple uses in your car. As well as absorbing lingering moisture, kitty litter can help if you find yourself trapped on ice. The principle is the same: scattering the litter under and around your tires will absorb the moisture on the ground, causing it to expand. Then, it should give you enough grip to get going.
4. Block the sun’s glare with tinted plastic sheets
Sure, your car probably has a couple of visors meant to block out that annoying glare from the sun. But there’s always one awkward spot that they just won’t cover, leaving you squinting through your commute. To avoid unnecessary eye strain, then, simply tape up some tinted plastic sheets in the offending areas. As you can see, pilots do it too. And if it works for them…
3. Make a smartphone holder with a rubber band
Need to mount your phone on your dash for the GPS but don’t have a smartphone mount? There’s an easier, and cheaper, way to do it. Indeed, all you have to do is pass a rubber band through your air vents, pulling it out the other end with a pen. Then, slide your phone through the two loops you’ve created, and it’ll hold in place.
2. Temporarily fix your fuel tank with chewed gum
Ideally, you should get yourself to a trained mechanic or service station as quickly as possible if your car’s leaking gas. But few of us actually notice holes in our tanks while parked in a garage, so as a temporary fix to get you there, you can seal the hole with chewed gum. Just don’t use it as a long-term solution.
1. Protect your car doors from garage walls with a pool noodle
If your car is too wide for your garage, you may find yourself constantly catching the doors on the walls. To preserve your vehicle’s bodywork, then, try affixing a pool noodle to the wall (you may need to cut it in half first). It’ll cushion your doors and prevent them from getting scratched on the wall.