40 Game-Changing Car Hacks Every Smart Driver Should Know

By Luka E July 27, 2021

Every proud car owner is bound to bump into a few issues along the way. There are loads of costs that come with owning a car. While having a car is certainly convenient, they can become a liability with the inevitable dents, scratches, cracked windshields, mechanical failures, and messy food and drinks.

Luckily, there are tons of creative and savvy car owners who are always coming up with fun ways to make life easier for themselves, from finding hidden locks to ingenious makeshift cup holders. Whether you’re a new car owner or you’ve had one for years, these useful car hacks might come as a surprise, and they’re certain to help you save you from unforeseen costs and messy accidents.

Find The Manual Lock

Many cars these days are designed only to be unlocked electronically. Unfortunately, anything electronic has a chance of failing at one point or another. Luckily, these cars have a built-in fail-safe for this eventuality; you’ll just have to find it.

image courtesy of vsgenuineparts.co.uk

Most of the fanciest new cars will still have a manual lock. Under the door handle, there should be a little piece of plastic, which, when removed, reveals an old-fashioned manual lock which could really be a lifesaver in a pinch.

Lasting Freshness

For those of you who love that fresh car smell but don’t want to spend money on extra air fresheners and car sprays, we have the perfect solution for that! All you need is a few nice smelling scented dryer sheets.

image courtesy of Using dryer sheets as a car air freshener/ Facebook

By sticking a few of these under your car seats, the smell will permeate your vehicle and neutralize any offensive smells. Another crazy idea is to put them in the AC vent to convert them into the ultimate fresh scent blasters.

The Parking Lot Car Hunt

If you spend an extended amount of time in a shopping mall, it’s easy to lose your bearings and forget where you left your car. The landmarks (mainly other cars) are always changing, making it even harder to find your car again.

image courtesy of philkotse.com

One solution for the navigationally challenged is to take a picture of your surroundings after you park. You could even take several photos of your route from your car to follow later, but remember the other cars are likely to change!

Tidy Trunks

Your car and your bedroom share one similarity – they both get really cluttered, really quickly! If your trunk looks like a bombshell has hit it with all the groceries and other shopping by the end of every day, then this tip is for you.

image courtesy of diyhow.tumblr.com

Get yourself some nice medium-sized laundry baskets and stick them in your trunk. Now you’ll be able to keep your trunk more organized and prevent things from getting lost in the corners. It may still be chaos, but it’ll be structured chaos.

DIY Dent Fixer

Next time you get a small dent, why not turn to your trusty bathroom products for a DIY car makeover? Your plunger is a surprisingly effective tool to make your car look as good as new for absolutely no cost!

image courtesy of machanic.net

Start by pouring some hot water over the dented area, then place the plunger over it. Make sure it’s stuck on well, and then pull until the dent pops out. You can repeat the process a few times until the dent’s completely smoothed out.

Key Fob Telekinesis

Remote locks are super convenient, but sometimes you’re just out of range for the signal to reach the car. This is a nifty trick to expand the range of your key fob with your hidden telekinetic powers that you haven’t yet discovered.

image courtesy of Nthefastlane.com

By placing your key fob under your chin, you can extend the range of the remote’s function. As surprising as it might be, this works because your skull acts as an antenna and boosts the signal of the key fob.

Homemade Phone Holder

Elastic bands continue to reign supreme as one of the most useful inventions to have in your household. With a bit of creativity, you can make yourself a pretty decent phone holder and save some serious money in the process.

image courtesy of OneCrazyHouse/ YouTube

Just thread an elastic band (or two) through the air vent and secure each end over your phone. This is a great way to save on fancy car holders and help you have easy access to your phone when following maps.

Cereal Container Car Bin

There’s never really a good place to put your trash when you’re in the car, and it’s easy to just throw things wherever and forget about it. A great option is to make a mini trash can for your car.

image courtesy of onegoodthingbyjillee.com

You can do this easily and cheaply by putting a plastic bag in an empty cereal container and sealing the lid over it. You can put it in any convenient spot that’s easy to reach and enjoy a nice, trash-free car.

Keeping The Takeaways Warm

Traffic is a massive downer – even more so when you’ve got some delicious takeaway pizza sitting on the seat getting cold. Sure, you could munch it down on the go, but ideally, settle in with a movie at home.

image courtesy of Sarah Crowley/ Thekitchn.com

The best solution for those lucky enough to have them is to use your seat warmers to keep your takeaways nice and warm on your way home. If you don’t have them, well, you’re stuck like the rest of us, wrapping our jackets around the pies.

Do a Penny Test

Few of us know when exactly we should change our car tires. To avoid them going flat out of the blue and getting stranded, you should regularly check how deep the tire treads are. This is how to know if they’re deep enough:

image courtesy of beyondthedrivingtest.com

With the top of Lincoln’s head pointing inwards towards the tire, place a penny into a tread. As long as the tread covers Lincoln’s forehead, your tires don’t need a change. If not, get them replaced asap. You can use a quarter the same way.

The Speeding Paradox

Speeding might be faster on the open road, but in the city, you’ll only be wearing out your breaks. It’s probable that you won’t get anywhere faster either, because of the way they program stoplights to meet the needs of normal traffic.

image courtesy of Denton Record/ Chronicle

They’ve actually designed stoplights such that, if you’re driving the speed limit, you’ll be able to cruise through your route with minimal stops. So if you’re speeding, you may just end up having to wait longer without actually getting there any faster.

Nail Polish Scratch Fixer

If you’re avoiding excessively priced maintenance work, but your car’s got a really blatant scratch you can’t ignore, nail polish may hold the solution to your problems. It’ll be a lot cheaper than redoing the entire exterior of your car and will look just the same.

image courtesy of duaria.com

Find a bottle of nail polish that matches your car, and then simply paint over the scratch. It should mask the scratch, but it won’t be completely gone. See this as a suitable temporary solution until you can afford to take it in for repainting.

A Shoe For Your Coffee

There are many occasions that an extra cup holder would really be helpful, especially on road trips with a group of friends. Most cars don’t have cup holders for the back seats, and it’s a health hazard to keep scorching hot coffee in your lap while driving.

image courtesy of autoadvance.uk.co

If If you ever find yourself in a situation that requires an extra cup holder, look no further than your feet! Shoes can be perfectly effective cup holders. You may just need to use a sock or some tissues if it’s a little loose.

Rice Vs Moisture

Rice is an excellent absorber for moisture. People use it for all sorts of wet technology, and it’ll work for the condensation in your car too! If you’ve been finding the condensation on your windscreen just won’t go away, try this hack. 

image courtesy of superdehumidifier.com

To help absorb the excess moisture inside your car and prevent condensation, place a cloth bag filled with rice on the dashboard. It’ll keep your windscreen from misting up, but remember to microwave it once in a while to remove the extra moisture.

Best Way to Cool Down

So your AC just went bust, you’re stuck in traffic, and it’s a boiling hot day in the middle of summer. Most people would just open all four windows to try to cool down, but that means a ton of wind blowing in all directions.

image courtesy of Reuters

The best way to get a nice cool draft moving through the car is to open one window in front and the opposite window in the back. That way, you create a natural movement through the full car, forcing warm air out.

Winshield Wiper Protection

In harsh weather, when it’s raining, and there’s ice forming on your windshield, you’ll probably put your wipers on as strongly as possible to get a good view. Unfortunately, this can lead to damaging the wipers and trapped dirt scratching your windshield.

image courtesy of Allstate/ YouTube

One solution is to wrap your wipers in women’s stockings to protect your wipers and windscreen from the built-up ice. You can also use them to clean your mirrors, and if you don’t have women’s stockings, a pair of long socks will work nicely.

East Is The Way To Go

When you’re in a rush to get going in the morning and walk out the door only to find your windshield frozen over, it can be a real pain. Having to get warm water to melt it off just takes too long.

image courtesy of cheapcarscanda.com

We suggest you make use of nature’s wonderful heater by parking your car facing east. This will allow it to catch the earliest morning sun and hopefully thaw off by the time you’re ready to go, saving you some time and effort. 

Where’s the gas Tank Again?

Whenever you get a new car or borrow one, it can take some time to remember which side of the car the gas tank is on. This makes every trip to the gas station a confusing one, but we have a great tip for that.

image courtesy of depositphotos.com

Most people aren’t aware of this, but if you look at the gas meter gauge, you’ll notice a little arrow beside the gas pump icon. This arrow shows you which side the tank is located on, making it easy to figure out which side to park on.

Tennis Ball Car Stoppers

It can be pretty tricky to gauge how close you are to the back wall of your garage. If you have a small garage and you really have to squeeze up to the wall to fit everything, you’ve probably bumped the wall a few times. 

image courtesy of autoevolution.com

One nifty trick is to create a car stopper by hanging a tennis ball at the point where you need to stop. The tennis ball should be touching your car so that as soon as you reach that point, it’ll knock the back window or windshield.

The Wonders of Hand Sanitizer

Have you ever had your keyhole stopped up by ice in the middle of the harsh winter? It can be quite a dilemma, but it’s a great opportunity to put your hand sanitizer collection to good use with this interesting trick.

image courtesy of onegoodthingbyjillee.com

The alcohol in your hand sanitizer will melt the ice, so all you need to do is squeeze a generous amount over the lock and voilà! Not only is your keyhole unjammed, but you’ll also have some very sanitary door handles!

Car Door Savers

One might assume that pool noodles only serve as fun pool accessories, but they can actually be super useful for all sorts of things. One such innovation will help keep your car doors safe from banging on the garage walls.

image courtesy of foodfashionhome.com

Having door savers is a massive game-changer for those of you with small garages. To make them, simply cut a pool noodle in half lengthways and attach it to the wall where your door usually opens, or even the back wall to protect your bumper! 

Get Your Money’s Worth

Naturally, when you’re filling up with gas, you want to get your money’s worth. Interestingly though, by rushing to fill your tank as fast as possible, you’re probably losing out on some extra petrol, which can make a big difference.

image courtesy of consumerreports.org

Try holding the pump at only 50% and allow it to fill slowly. By going slower, you’ll get less air pumped into the tank along with the gas. You might just take the opportunity for a little breather in your morning rush.

Nifty Ceiling Storage

It’s always a struggle to find car space when you go for a long road trip. You end up with things stuffed under your feet and being squashed into the seats. What if you had extra storage space in the ceiling?

image courtesy of ebay.fr

You can make this ceiling carrier by attaching some bungee cords to a piece of mesh and tying them to the four hand-holders in your car. It’ll give you a lot of extra room to store things. Just don’t overload it to avoid banging your head. 

Back Seat Pouches

In the theme of extra storage space, shoe organizers make for an excellent back seat storage solution. They’re much better than those single-pocket holders they sell at car stores and will probably save you from spending extra money on a special car design. 

image courtesy of hackable.com

With all their pockets, shoe organizers are amazing for keeping things neat and tidy in the back seat. They can hold drinks, snacks, tools, toys, and really anything else that strikes your fancy. Just hang them off the back of the front seat’s head brace.

Olive Oil Makeover

Olive oil isn’t only useful in the kitchen. People use it for their skin, hair, and, it turns out, their dashboards! The oil will make leather fittings look as fresh and shiny as if they were new by moisturizing and cleaning the leather.

image courtesy of chasingabetterlife.com

Simply put a few drops of olive oil on a coffee filter (or thin cloth) and whip down the fittings. You might smell the oil for a bit until it’s soaked in properly, but it’ll have your car looking beautiful in no time.

Temporary Stocking Fanbelt

For this tip, it might be a good idea to just get yourself an extra pair of stockings that live in your car. Apparently, they might just save you from a breakdown by acting as a temporary fan belt when it snaps. 

image courtesy of liveabout.com

Although it might sound crazy, you can use a pair of stockings as a fan belt by binding them around the engine pulley. It’s definitely not a long-term solution, but it might just get you to the workshop to get repairs done.

Toothpaste To The Rescue!

Having foggy headlights is less than ideal, not to mention hazardous. Luckily, you don’t have to go all the way to the cleaners to sort it out. You can do it yourself at home with some trusty everyday bathroom tools. 

image courtesy of sunlitspaces.com

Put a few drops of toothpaste on your headlights and scrub the entire surface using a spare toothbrush. Don’t wash it off immediately, but let it dry for a bit. Use warm water to wash it off, and behold the sparkly clean headlights!

Easy Sticker Removal

So, you’re selling your car, or you’ve just bought a new one, but there’s just one problem – it’s covered in stickers! Stickers seldomly come off properly, leaving either scraps of paper or sticky patches that collect dust, making removing them rather frustrating.

image courtesy of Evan Sears/ Cars.com

Your hairdryer can make this process a whole lot less painful. Before you try to peel them off, use your hairdryer to apply some heat. When you try again, it will be much easier, and it shouldn’t leave any residue. 

Cleaning Slime

Slime has always been extremely satisfying to play with, but did you know you can use it to clean your car? This has become a bit of a fad since a guy blew up on TikTok after posting a video of himself doing it.

image courtesy of Lazada.com.ph

You can make your own DIY slime and then just run it over the car’s interior, pushing it into all the cracks to pick up the dust. It works just as well as a cleaning cloth, except it’s much easier to stick into small spaces.

Cute Cupholder Dirt Collectors

We can’t count how many times crumbs and all other nasty items get into our cup holders. It’s like aside from holding on to our drinks, their other job is just to collect all kinds of nastiness. There is an easy way to keep them clean, though. 

image courtesy of onegoodthingbyjillee.com

Instead of vacuuming them every single day, simply put a couple of cupcake holders in there. They’ll catch whatever falls in there, and you’ll just have to pick them up, toss out the contents, and replace them. Easy, and it doesn’t even take a minute out of your day to clean. 

Making a DIY Tint

While we love the feeling of the sun, it’s not so nice when it’s glaring straight in your face on your daily commute. It can really add to irritation, and it’s a hazard when you’re left blinded in the middle of traffic. 

image courtesy of Lifehack.org

Taking a note from the pilot’s handbook, someone figured out that you can buy small tinted plastic sheets which work wonders to block the sun’s rays. The best part about it is that they’ll stick to your window with static, so they’re easy to apply and remove as needed.

Fresh Wipers

It’s essential as a driver to have good visibility. It doesn’t matter how good a driver you are, if you can’t see properly, you are a liability on the road, so it’s vital to make sure your wipers are always clean.

image courtesy of pakwheels.com

Over time, windshield wipers are bound to collect dirt, which then gets smeared over your windscreen when you use them. To get them clean, use a good microfiber cloth and some glass cleaner to wipe them down thoroughly before your next trip.

Paper Towel Holder For The Car

It’s pretty handy to keep paper towels on hand wherever you go. This is especially true if you ever find yourself fixing your car and expose yourself to oils and grime. But sometimes it’s hard to find a good place to store them.

image courtesy of familyhandyman.com

The best solution we’ve found is to make a DIY holder for the paper towels using a bungee cord and attach it to the underside of your trunk lid. This way, you keep it handy at all times and in a convenient spot.

Pool Noodles to Cover The Gaps

It’s one of the most annoying things when you drop something into the gap between your chair and the side of the car. You’re left bent awkwardly over and fumbling blindly to try to find it again, or you have to stop the car entirely.

image courtesy of Alpacalypse28/ Reddit

Pool noodles come in handy once again in this situation. By wedging pieces of pool noodle between those gaps, you’ll prevent anything from falling all the way through.  Whoever came up with this must-have dropped one too many things down there. 

Combatting Icy Roads

Ice on the road can really become dangerous, as it reduces the friction of your tires, making it difficult to control your car. To keep safe, it can help to have some extra weight in the back of your trunk.

image courtesy of thefamilyhandyman.com

To add some weight, stick a few bags of sand or compost in your trunk. It will help your tires to get more traction, but please be mindful that this might not work as well for cars with front-wheel drive.

 Grocery Bag Holders

How often have you had a full trunk of groceries and had to put a few bags on the back seat, only to have them spill out? It’s a shame to lose a box of eggs or a bottle of milk in this way, so here’s our solution.

image courtesy of zooohome.tk

Clip some carabiners on the headrest of your front seats. It will be a great place to hang groceries and make sure the bags don’t fall open. They’ll also come in handy for keeping handbags or backpacks close at hand.

An Easier Way To Attach Keyrings

We think we can all agree that attaching keyrings to keys isn’t the easiest of things to do. It often means pinching your finger or hurting a nail to get it open and keep it there to thread the key on.

image courtesy of hackable.com

This is a nifty hack to help add keys easily. Use a staple remover to open the keyring and hold it there while you thread the keys over and you’ll be done in a few seconds, and save your poor fingers!

Melt The Ice With Vinegar

 Ice is just such a hassle when it comes to cars. It always gets in the way when we’re already panicking, late for work, and can’t wait for the ice to melt so we can see through the windshield and go.

image courtesy of sixcleversisters.com

A super quick solution is to make a mixture of water and vinegar to spray over the windshield. It’ll make quick work of melting the ice, and then all you need to do is wipe it up and be on your way.

Car Freshener, DIY Style

Car fresheners are expensive, and frankly, often they don’t even work that well or smell nice at all. Luckily, you can make your very own special car freshener at home using just a mason jar and your favorite scented candles.

image courtesy of familyhandyman.com

Fill a mason jar or any other container with some broken-up candle wax and stab some holes through the lid. Place it in your cup holder, and now whenever it warms up in your car, it’ll release the wax’s lovely scent.

Installed Garage Door Remote

It’s very frustrating arriving home after a long day only to realize you can’t find your garage remote. Either you left it at work, or it’s slipped between your seats, but either way, you really aren’t in the mood to find it now.

image courtesy of chamberlain.com

With some professional help, you can make your life just that little bit easier by having a garage opener installed directly into your car. If you’re good at DIY, you could even try doing it yourself. Just don’t do damage you’ll regret!