smiling car owner

20 car hacks to improve your drive

Common car problems, easy car solutions.

The only thing better than a powerful, high-tech solution to a problem is a cheap, quick and easy solution to the same problem.

Fixing damage with household objects

cleaning car with a toothbrushOver the years people have tried to fix car damage with whatever happened to be lying around, and it turns out some of them actually work extremely well.

  • Toothpaste: Great for cloudy headlights, especially if your car also has bad breath.
  • Toilet plungers: You can suck some kinds of dents out of your car with a toilet plunger.
  • Nail polish: Clear nail polish is the way to go for shallow scratches, and it also works for chips on glass. It can stand in for toothpaste on headlights as well.
  • Pool noodles: Find a good shock absorber in a pool noodle. Fasten them to the sides of the garage if you keep hitting the car doors. Cyclists can benefit too by using them to encourage cars to give them a little more space.
  • Other DIY: There are a lot of car procedures you can do yourself, and not every issue calls for a mechanic. This can save you a lot of money over time.

Making your car more comfortable

comfortable in the carWant more storage space, a comfier ride or a cleaner car?

  • Seatback storage: Try hanging shoe racks over the backs of seats to instantly give your car a lot of extra pockets.
  • Mesh bungies: Get yourself some overhead storage space with mesh bungie nets fastened to the ceiling.
  • Keep a bin in the car: Approximately 100% of people eat in the car. If you’re one of them, it can be worth keeping a bin at hand. Sealable plastic containers are ideal for this.

Hacks for better driving

holding the car steering wheelEliminate some of those mild annoyances you encounter while driving.

  • Don’t hop lanes: Lane hopping is purely recreational. Traffic doesn’t magically start flowing when you switch over a lane, and you’ll generally only ever save, or lose, a few seconds on your trip. It also considerably increases your chances of having an accident.
  • Hang a tennis ball in your garage: Dangle a tennis ball on a string near the back of your garage, and you’ve just installed your own high-tech, fully automated reverse warning system. When your car bumps the tennis ball you know how much more space you have left to back up.
  • Car stuck? Try floormats: Stick the floormats below the wheels for more traction if your car’s stuck.
  • Remove old stickers with ease: Bumper stickers, old rego or parking stickers and others can be easily removed with nothing but warm water and newspaper. Soak the newspaper, put it over the sticker and let it sit for a while. The water will gradually soak in, and the sticker practically falls off by itself.
  • Rotate your steering wheel 180 degrees: If it’s a hot day and you’re not looking forward to burning your fingers on the steering wheel later, simply turn it around after parking.
  • Do your homework before Uber driving: Crunch the numbers with an online Uber driver earnings calculator to factor in the expenses and check whether it’s really a good use of your time.
  • Cool your car quickly: Pump out the hot air more quickly by opening one window, then walking around the car and rapidly opening and closing the other side-door. Unless you’re an action hero you should park the car before doing this.

Rental car hacks

  • fuel gauge_shutterstock

If you're renting a car then, along with really checking the contract before you sign, there are a few hacks you can keep in mind:

  • Photograph your vehicle: Give your rental car the supermodel treatment before driving away, and take clear photos from all sides to account for every nick and scratch. If you’re driving in an unfamiliar area, give some serious consideration to rental car excess insurance.
  • Look for the fuel gauge arrow: Look for the arrow on the fuel gauge before driving into a gas station. It shows you which side to fill up on.

Using your phone for your car

using your phone in the carDon’t underestimate the power of your phone, in the form of both apps and built-in features.

  • Use the GPS: If you’re not 100% sure how to get somewhere, you can probably save time and fuel by using the GPS.
  • Apps for your watch: If you have an Apple smartwatch, you can get navigation apps for it so you don’t have to check your phone while driving.
  • Use the camera: There are a lot of ways to use your phone’s camera on the roads. High quality phone cameras can snap licence plates from a distance, and it’s usually a good idea to photograph rental cars before driving away. There are even ways to use your phone as a dashboard camera while on the road.
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