Sharing “life hacks” on social media sites such as Pinterest and Twitter has become quite popular over the past few years. This is no surprise–who doesn’t like learning cool, unique ways to save time and money, or even just do things differently? It stands to reason that those of us who love our cars will also enjoy hearing about car hacks that make our lives as automobile owners easier.
We’ve scoured the internet and put together a list of simple but genius hacks for your car. Some may surprise you; others will make you smack your forehead and wonder how you never thought of them. The list is separated into a few different categories, from cleaning hacks to hacks designed specifically for the winter months. Read through our tips, learn a few things, and thank us later.
Coffee filters are great for dusting your interior because they are made of very fine paper particles, which makes them slightly abrasive. They are also a bit sturdier than paper towels, and they’re cheap. Use them with your favorite cleaning solution, or try a little bit of olive oil or vegetable oil, which will give a beautiful shine to leather seats and your dashboard.
It turns out the same qualities that make toothpaste great for removing plaque from your teeth also make it great for removing dirt that clouds up your headlights. Apply a small amount to a rag and buff the headlight in a circular motion until no stickiness or residue remains. When you’re done, your headlights will be clear and shine like new.
Your floor mats get dirtier faster than any other part of your car’s interior–especially during the winter months–and they’re also one of the more difficult parts to thoroughly clean. Instead of scrubbing them with carpet cleaner and a stiff brush, try running them through your clothes washer. Shake off any loose dirt and apply some commercial stain remover to any problem areas, and then toss them in the washer. If you’re lucky, they’ll come out totally clean; if not, then it will at least be that much easier to scrub out the remaining stains by hand.
You’ll want to use a hanging fabric organizer that you can secure below the headrest with strong twine or zip ties. This creates a handy place to store the things you have sitting around in your car–maps, pamphlets, electronic devices or emergency items. You’ll get even more use out of this idea if you have young kids for whom you keep toys, books and snacks in your vehicle.
If you need a convenient container for storing loose change, try recycling a prescription drug bottle for the purpose. The typical tall-and-thin size is especially well-suited for quarters. Keep it in your glove compartment or your center console for easy access.
Do you have trouble driving and using a navigation app on your phone at the same time? Instead of buying a dashboard mount, try running a rubber band through one of your A/C vents and using it to hold your cellphone. Say hello to hands-free navigation.
If you have seat warmers in your vehicle, you can use them to your advantage when you get carry-out from your favorite restaurant. Place the food in your passenger seat and turn on the warmer. Now there’s no need to hurry home before your food gets cold.
If you have leftover wax in a small glass candle holder (or a brand-new candle), place it in one of your cup holders. The wax will release a faint odor to freshen up your interior, especially on hot days.
Do you have old bumper stickers on your car that you want to get rid of? Spray some WD-40 or another aerosol lubricant along the top edge of the sticker and let the solution sit for several seconds. This should make the sticker much easier to remove. If any adhesive remains, use a little Goo Gone or another adhesive remover.
Here’s an easy way to check if your tires have enough tread: hold a penny between your fingers, with your fingers on Lincoln’s body, and insert the opposite side into the tread of your tire. If the raised part of the tire obscures any part of Lincoln’s head, then your tread is deep enough. Be sure to check multiple points on all four tires to determine whether or not they are wearing evenly.
If the locks on your car doors freeze during an exceptionally cold night, apply a little hand sanitizer to your key and then insert it into the lock. The alcohol in the hand sanitizer will melt the ice because alcohol has a lower freezing point than water. Alternatively, you can briefly heat your car key with a lighter before putting it in the lock.
When it’s cold outside, airborne water molecules inside your car sometimes condense on the cold windows, causing them fog up. To prevent this, spray a little bit of shaving cream onto a rag and apply it to the inside of your windows, then wipe them clean. The chemicals in the shaving cream create a protective film that prevents the fogging effect.
A frozen lock is bad; a door frozen shut can be worse. Your doors can freeze closed when water collects on the rubber seals around your doors and then freezes. Before the temperature drops, spray some non-stick cooking spray all along the weatherstrip and rub it in with a rag. The spray will repel water, thereby preventing it from freezing on the door seals.
We’re just scratching the surface with this list, so don’t stop here in your quest for car-hacking supremacy. There are tons of cool ideas on Pinterest, and maybe you can even use your imagination to put a unique twist on someone else’s idea. The possibilities are endless; you just need to look at the familiar from a new perspective.
And don’t forget to share your newfound knowledge with your friends, family and coworkers! Everyone appreciates little tips for saving time and money, and if you found this list useful, then they will, too.