Legendary stock car driver Dale Earnhardt once said, “It’s a never ending battle of making your cars better and also trying to be better yourself.” While this list won’t necessarily better you, these hacks will improve the look and the effectiveness of your car. And if you make your car cooler, isn’t that at least a step in the right direction of self-improvement?
10. Use Toothpaste to Clean Headlights
Having clean headlights won’t only make your car safer for you, but for everyone else on the road as well. Clean headlights mean that you can see other vehicles, pedestrians and other obstructions that might be on the road much better and it also makes you much more visible to other people who might be using the road.
A simple way to clean headlights that are cloudy is to use toothpaste. First, you wash the headlights with soap and water. Then add a dab of toothpaste (any kind will work) to a damp, soft cloth. Then rub the cloth on the headlights in a circular motion.
After about 15 minutes, you should have headlights that are clean, clear, bright and, most importantly, visible.
9. Use Nail Polish to Cover up Paint Scratches
Scratches on your car don’t make your car any less safe, but they will surely eat away at your sanity. Anyone who has purchased a new car will attest that the scratches seemingly come out of nowhere within the first few months of owning the car. What is even more frustrating about scratches is that it may not even be you who causes the scratches. There’s a good chance that some careless idiot was the one who scratched it.
The good news is that there are ways to fix the scratch at home without taking it in and paying a professional to do it. The first is to rub shoe polish on the scratch and then use sandpaper to buff out the scratch. The shoe polish will help guide you so that you don’t scratch the next layer of paint when you’re buffing the car. All you have to do is gently rub sandpaper on the shoe polish until all the shoe polish has been rubbed off.
Another way to remove a scratch is to use toothpaste to buff the area around the scratch. Rub the toothpaste on with a soft cloth in a circular motion, just like you would clean your headlights.
However, not all scratches can be buffed out. To cover up those scratches, find some nail polish that is the same color as the paint on your car and paint over the scratch. Once you do, no one will else notice the scratch.
8. Park East in the Morning so Your Window Will Defrost
Preparing a car to drive after it has been sitting outside all night in the middle of winter is a terribly arduous task that no one looks forward to. If you get lucky and it doesn’t snow, then you won’t have to shovel the snow off your car, but your windows will still be frosted and you get to spend the next five to 10 minutes standing out in the cold scraping the frost off the windows. The good news is that the sun will defrost the windows for you as it rises in the morning.
If you can, simply park your car facing east. When the sun rises, providing it’s not too cloudy, it will defrost your window and hopefully by the time you have to use your car the windshield will be clear.
7. De-Ice a Lock
Of course, you can only scrape your windows if you can get into the car to get your scraper. That might be not possible because, depending on how cold it is, there is the possibility that the lock may be frozen. In fact, the whole door could be frozen shut.
If you are facing the dilemma of a frozen lock, there are two quick and easy ways to de-ice it. The first is to rub some petroleum jelly, like lip balm, on the key and put it into the keyhole. Try turning it, and if it doesn’t work, take the key out, put more petroleum jelly onto the key, and re-insert. You may have to do this several times, but eventually the lock should turn. It’s important to remember that when trying this method you don’t force it because you might bend the key.
Another option is to rub some hand sanitizer on the frozen lock. Within seconds, it should melt away the ice because the alcohol in the hand sanitizer has a lower freezing temperature than the ice. This could also help you de-ice the rest of your door as well. Just pour some on the cracks of the door and wait a few seconds.
Now all you have to do is ensure that you don’t store all your petroleum jelly and hand sanitizer in your car.
6. How To Cool Your Car Down Quickly
On the other side of the spectrum from your car being too cold, there is the very serious problem of your car being too hot. Cars essentially work like greenhouses and they heat up very quickly. According to Jan Null from San Francisco State University, “At 70 degrees on a sunny day, after a half hour, the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees. After an hour, it can reach 113 degrees.” That is why you should never leave pets or children in an unattended car on a warm day. Of course, it’s also incredibly uncomfortable to get into a car that is over 100 degrees.
To cool down your car quickly, open the window on one side and close the door. Go to the other door and then open and close it several times. This will push a lot of the hot air out of the car and it will cool the car down.
5. How to Get Rid of Car Sickness
If you’ve ever had motion sickness, you’ll know that it can be a nightmare. It happens when one of your balancing system senses, like sight, inner ear, and sensory nerve, feels movement but the other senses don’t register it. For example, if you are reading in a car, your inner ear would sense the movement, but your eyes wouldn’t register the movement because they are focused on the book.
In order to get rid of motion sickness, a study published in the journal Ergonomics says to: “[tilt your head]against centrifugal acceleration [and it]reduces the severity of motion sickness.” In other words, tilt your head in the direction that the car is going and you should feel better in a few minutes.
4. If you Get Stuck in the Mud or Snow, Use Your Floor Mats to Get Out
The main purpose of a car is that they are supposed to move you from one location to another. So when they don’t move because of something like snow, ice, or mud, it can be fairly annoying. You may have to ask strangers to help push out or call for a tow truck and possibly have to wait for several hours in the cold and/or the rain for them to come.
A trick to help you get moving again is to get out the floor mats in your car, and drive over them. The floor mats will give your tires a surface to get traction on, and you’ll hopefully be able to free your car. Another trick, which will save you from having to clean your mats, is to keep kitty litter in your trunk and sprinkle it on the snow or mud where you plan to drive. Again, this will give your tires the traction to get moving again.
3. How to Find the Gas Tank While Driving
Let’s say you’re driving an unfamiliar car and you pull into a gas station, then it suddenly dawns on you that you don’t know what side the gas tank is on. You can stop the car, figure it out and try not to keep accidentally parking on the wrong side, which could lead to you starring in your own viral video.
Luckily, there is a way to find out what side the gas tank is on without getting out of the car. On your gas gauge, the gas symbol, which usually looks like a gas pump, will be on the right if the tank is on the right side of the car. If the symbol is on the left side, the gas tank is on… you guessed it… the left side. Of course hopefully you’ll be driving a car that has a little arrow next to the gas gauge, which also indicates which side the tank is on. Still, this is a good thing to remember in case the car you’re driving isn’t quite so helpful.
2. How to Remove Bumper Stickers
Bumper stickers can kind of be like tattoos. At first, you may think they are awesome, but a few years later and they are still around and aren’t as great or relevant as they once were. If it was a tattoo, you’d have it to get lasered off. If you want to remove a bumper sticker or a decal, you don’t need to do anything that drastic. Instead, just get a hair dryer and set it to low heat. Put it about six inches from the bumper sticker (any closer or any hotter and it might cause the paint to chip) and heat up one end of the bumper sticker. When one of the corners starts to become unstuck, grab it and use it to peel off the sticker slowly while heating up the rest of the sticker as you peel.
Once the sticker is off, there might be flecks of paper left, and those can be scrapped off with a rubber spatula. Then, just wash it with a warm cloth.
Another trick is to pour boiling water on the sticker several times, or put a rag soaked in boiling water on the sticker. This should cause it to peel off without taking the paint off of your car.
1. Don’t Have a Heavy Set of Keys
The idea that a car’s ignition can be effected because someone has too many keys or heavy keychains on the ring that holds their car key may sound like an old wive’s tale, but it turns out to be true. Apparently if you have a lot of keys (like 20 or more), it can wear out the ignition switch.
In fact, this became a big problem for General Motors, who had to recall over 30 million cars in 2014 because of faulty ignitions when heavy sets of keys made the engines of some of their cars to turn off. When the cars turned off, the drivers would lose power brakes and power steering and the airbag wouldn’t deploy if there was an accident. The recall was initiated because 12 people were killed due to this very problem.
Experts recommend that you just keep your vehicle key and the fob on a ring by themselves.