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Top 10 Cool Car Hacks Every Driver Should Know

Nate Yungman . . . Comments

There are few things people obsess over more than their cars. They are vessels of personal individualism and convenience. Cars have facilitated many fond memories over the years. Yet, they are always a pain in the neck. Driving errors, constant maintenance, winding lines at the pump are a few of the common annoyances all drivers face. Here are 10 easy tricks to minimize those discomforts and, perhaps, to save your life!

See Also: 10 Surprising Ways To Hack Your Body

10Jump Your Dead Car Battery with a Rope


The Common Problem:

The easiest solution to jump-starting a car is hooking it up to another battery. Most people already schlep around jumper cables. You might as well put them to good use. However, that implies that you can find someone to flag down. If you are stranded in the middle of nowhere, you have to get creative.

The Easy Solution:

This technique only really works for smaller vehicles with a manual transmission. All that is required for this trick is a jack and a rope. The jack props up the frame behind a front tire. Make sure that the car is parked in third gear. Turn the car on. Next, wrap the rope around the elevated tire several times. Give the rope a swift pull. The kinetic energy will get the tires moving. With this temporary fix, try and find a real jump.[1]

9The Arrow on the Side of Your Fuel Gauge

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The Common Problem:

There are a lot of ways one can embarrass themselves at a gas station. Among the most common is pulling your car into a pump only to noticed the tank is on the other side. Back in the car, one has to try and finagle for a pump on the right side. It is a minor squabble, but still an annoying one.

The Easy Solution:

You do not even have to do anything for this hint. Luckily, the car manufacturers were looking out for us all along. They just hid the clue in a place few would notice. Along with the other symbols and warnings on the dashboard, there is often a small arrow on the fuel gauge next to the caricature of a gas pump. The relative position of the arrow corresponds with the fuel filler inlet. Whatever direction the arrow points, that is the side you fill it up on.[2]


8Toothpaste for Cloudy Headlights


The Common Problem: In adverse weather conditions, cloudy headlights can be the difference between life and death. Proper lighting is an essential part of navigating a storm. Organic debris from the road and the sun’s UV rays remove the protective coating over time. Instead of spending money replacing the blurry ones, there’s an unorthodox tip that you can use so you don’t look like a deer in, well…, headlights.

The Easy Solution:

The logic of this DIY trick is not much more complicated than the idea that toothpaste can clean more than just dentures. First, wash the headlights with soapy water or a cleaning solution like Windex. Next, take a sponge to remove the top layer of dirt. Put a dollop of toothpaste on the headlight. You only need a small amount—about the same that you, hopefully, use every day. Toothpaste with baking soda is the most effective choice. Then, get to brushing. For harder stains, more generous applications of toothpaste may be required.[3]

7Plunger out Dents


The Common Problem:

Outside of driving, the only real reason to have a car is to look at it. Unseemly scuffs can ruin the automotive experience just like any technical problem. As with another thing looking crappy, it’s time to break out the plunger.

The Easy Solution:

There is no way to really mess this one up. All you need is hot water and a plunger. For minor dents, the hot water may be enough. The heat might cause the metal and plastic to expand back into shape. For most marks, the physical suction of the plunger is necessary. Pour the water over the dented area to add a necessary level of moisture. Place the plunger on the surface. Pull back until the frame is back to its normal shape. This method works best with more recent dents while the surface is still malleable.[4]


6Hand Sanitizer for Frozen Locks


The Common Problem:

The problems with driving in the snow start before you are even behind the wheel. Ice can jam keyholes making them impossible to open. Unlike the rest of the car, scraping with a pick or thawing out with hot water can damage the lock’s internal workings. There is a much safer and quicker alternative.

The Easy Solution:

Hand Sanitizer kills more than just 99% of germs. One of the main ingredients of hand disinfectants is alcohol. Among the lesser celebrated features of alcohol is its freezing point. To harness that power, apply some of the gel to the tip of a car key. Edge the key into the icy lock for 30 seconds. The prolonged contact with the alcohol will lower the ice’s relative freezing point until it melts. After that, twist the key around and open the door. This comes with the added bonus of having your first line of defense against the coronavirus at the ready!

Outside of Purell, there are a handful of other common household items that can help if you know a cold snap is imminent. To prevent ice from building up on windows overnight, you can scrub potato slices on the windows. The sugars in the root vegetable prevent ice from binding. Spray cooking oil on the doors has a similar effect. The oil pushes the water away.[5]

5Kitty Litter can Defog a Window


The Common Problem:

After you have unlocked the frozen door, the car is still not necessarily safe to drive. The moisture in the atmosphere will likely cloud the windows. If one does not have time to wait for the foggy windows to defrost, a common item can resolve it in seconds. Do not be concerned about its more advertised use.

The Easy Solution:

Even dog lovers can proclaim the benefits of spare kitty litter. At its most basic level, the general purpose of kitty litter is to soak up moisture. To avoid any unsavory connotations, it is better to get odor free crystals and you definitely want to use new litter, not “used” litter. Pour the mix inside an old sock. Make sure that the socks are tightly bound. When tied off, place the sock on the dashboard. The crystals will absorb the condensation in the air. Additionally, kitty litter can be used for extra traction on icy roads—you just need to find a volunteer to run in front of the car sprinkling it as you go . . .[6]


4A Shoelace can Unlock a Car


The Common Problem:

Locking your keys in your car is the ultimate hack for car problems. Without keys, you cannot do anything else. If for some reason you ever want to retrieve your cars back, you can MacGyver your door open in a matter of seconds. The keyword here is “your” car. I’m not going to advocate for carjacking, no matter how clever the method. Having said that, here’s 11 Tips For Outrunning The Cops, just in case.

The Easy Solution:

Modern cars are designed to avoid this annoying occurrence. This hint is more practically useful for older models. First step is to take your shoelace out of your shoe. You are going to need the whole thing. Next, tie a small noose-like knot in the middle of the lace. The knot should tighten around the noose as you pull on the ends. Wiggle the lace in the crack between the door. Lower the lack until it’s looped around the head of the lock. Tighten the noose so that is secure around the head of the lock. Jerk up until you can open the door.[7]

3Put Your Key Under Your Chin

Photo credit: Wonder How To

The Common Problem:

Newer cars have gotten rid of the key entirely. These “push to start” vehicles rely on an electronic signal to unlock the doors. Often drivers complain that the fob cannot reach the car. Instead of making the trek to stand next to your car, you can boost the input by sticking the key under your chin.

The Easy Solution:

It sounds like a myth. The facts do not seem to make sense on their face, or more technically under their face. It is true though. The New York Times posited that the possible reason was because the fluids in your head amplified the message. There is some debate on how effective the human brain is as a conductor. Some speculate it increases anywhere from a few car lengths to 85 feet. Either way, it’s a convenient improvement over having to walk to your car.[8]


2A Carseat Headrest Breaks a Submerged Car


The Common Problem:

In a submerged car, time is of the essence. In a matter of seconds, the ambient water pressure is impossible to overcome. If you do not open your window or door before the pressure imbalance, you just have to wait until equilibrium is restored when the car is filled with water. The delay can be deadly.

The Easy Solution:

You cannot rely on windows to be your escape hatch. You have to build your own. Do not waste oxygen trying to smash the window with your fists. Most manufacturers install cars with detachable headrests to quickly install them in the shop. Their incidental use as a breakout tool is a lucky coincidence. While there still is air in the cabin, remove the headrest. Start hitting the window in the corners with the supporting prongs. With enough force, the blunt tip of the stem should shatter the glass. Make sure to close your eyes, because glass will be everywhere. The cleanup is the least of your concerns though. Use the rod to break down the remaining pieces in the frame to avoid cutting yourself. Hopefully, you can swim to safety.[9]

1Only Turn Right


The Common Problem:

The one trick everybody wants to know is how to get the most miles per gallon out of their tank. If they could also save time that would be even better. Experts have weighted in. Their solution is cumbersome, but it works.

The Easy Solution:

This tip was professionally researched. UPS needed to figure out the best way to optimize fuel efficiency. They discovered that the best solution was to always turn right. Instead of waiting at traffic lights to cross over lanes, UPS drivers map out routes to always turn to the right. The method all but eliminates the drawn-out waits at the red light. UPS boasts that the policy has successfully conserved 10 million gallons of fuel each year. This technique lowers the risk of a head on collision and saves on fuel. Even if the detours lengthens the trip, the time saved from not idling offsets the winding route.[10]