The Ultimate List of Life Hacks for your Car: 70 Great Ways To Enhance Your Ride
We spend so much time in our cars that it’s no wonder that everyone on the Internet has tried their best to make riding in them easier and more comfortable.
Cars are essential to daily living, allowing young professionals to commute to work each day and entire families to jump from one activity to the next. Cars are the ultimate status symbol, too, and owners are proud to showcase their great paint jobs and shiny surfaces to show how much care and pride they’ve put into their ride.
People who own vehicles can be inventive at finding ways to improve the ride, whether it’s for maintenance and cleaning, storage, emergency fixes, or driving efficiency. We’ve compiled this ultimate car hack list to cover everything that entails driving, riding in, and owning a car so that you don’t need to look anywhere else. You’re welcome!
Cleaning and Storage
1. Clean your headlights with toothpaste. Rub ¼ teaspoon of paste onto a headlight and buff with a piece of cloth until the sticky residue is gone. Your headlights will stay clear even after it rains!
2. Store car essentials easily by hanging a shoe organizer onto the back of the front seats. All those pockets give tons of storage options, and everything can be accessed easily. Try a shoe organizer with clear pockets so you can identify what’s in it right away and grab what you need.
3. What keeps your hair shiny can do the same for your car. Use hair conditioner give your car a new look without having to spend hours waxing and buffing it. After a gentle wash using water mixed with a tiny amount of dish soap, run a microfiber cloth soaked in diluted hair conditioner over the entire car before hosing it down. Get the exact formula here.
4. Declutter your windshield by stripping off old registration stickers without leaving a mess. The trick is to wet the sticker enough to weaken the adhesive. Soak a piece of cloth with warm water and hold it under and against the sticker for a few minutes. Peel the sticker away carefully and then give your windshield a once over with glass cleaner to erase the sticky spots.
You can also pour some water onto a piece of cling wrap and stick it onto the registration sticker to get the same effect.
5. They sound like great ideas, but using a vacuum and tape roller just won’t cut it when trying to remove pet hair from upholstery. Simply take a rubber glove and run it all over the affected area until the fibers turn into clumps that you can easily pick up.
6. No need for expensive bug solutions that don’t work well. Gently remove dead bugs from the front of your car using just water and dryer sheets. Place a dryer sheet in a spray bottle with some water and spray onto the bug mess. After a few minutes, the bug residue will easily come away when you rub it off with another dryer sheet.
7. Say goodbye to trash in your car by chucking it into a plastic cereal box that you can keep by your feet. The lid keeps odors from spreading throughout the vehicle, and lining the box with a plastic bag makes for easy cleaning.
8. Traveling with kids can be a pain when they start bickering with each other in the backseat. Use a shower caddy as a distracting seat divider by storing things they can use for fun activities during the drive, such as toys, books and crayons. The caddy can be a cinch to remove when grownups need to ride in the back.
9. Get rid of unsightly scuffs on your car by rubbing some toothpaste on them. Toothpaste not only cleans your teeth but it can also keep your car surface spotless.
10. Keep your pets safe and comfortable during travel by placing a car seat hammock in the back. A car seat hammock looks like a big blanket that can be hooked onto the headrests of your car. Using it prevents your furry friend from falling onto the floor whenever you hit the brakes. Learn how to make one here.
11. An empty gum container can hold your loose change better than your coin tray, which can be used for something else when needed.
12. If you run out of windshield washer fluid (yep, that’s the stuff that squirts onto your windshield to clean it), make your own! You can make it with diluted glass cleaner, a mix of dish soap and ammonia, or vinegar or water (only in cold weather—vinegar can stink in warm weather!). Get the formulations here.
13. Cup holders are super useful, but the worst thing about them is having to fish the gunk that you find at the bottom: crumbs, sticky spills, etc. Keep your cup holders clean by putting in silicone cupcake liners that you can easily take out to wash.
14. Use a can of compressed air to blast dirt out of your air conditioning vents. If the air seems a little musty after doing this, you can place a cotton ball with a few drops of essential oils between the vents when the air conditioning is turned on.
15. Reach the small crevices of air vents and other parts of your dashboard by using cotton balls, swabs or sponges to clean them.
16. Easily clean the interior of your car with wipes. Save up on auto detailing wipes by making your own using thick paper towels and a nifty cleaning solution that you can find here.
17. Whether it’s food, dirt under their shoes, or art supplies, a mess can be made by children on the floor of your car during travel. Place a rag mat on the floors so you can easily take them out to clean them at the end of the trip.
18. Commercial cleaners for the car can be expensive, toxic and hard to use. Get stubborn stains out of upholstery or carpets with a DIY cleaner made of hydrogen peroxide and essential oils. Find out how to make the cleaner and take the stain out here.
19. Your SUV has a lot of space in the back that can further be optimized to carry more things. Double that space using this DIY shelf that provides two levels of storage. Meanwhile say goodbye to squished groceries.
20. Utilize the space between car seats and store knick-knacks or important objects with a remote control caddy. Every seat can help carry multiple objects.
21. Hooking a carabiner somewhere in the backseat has many uses. You can hang coats and dry cleaning so that the hangers aren’t sticking out awkwardly. Hang grocery bags as well to prevent them from rolling around on your backseat and possibly falling onto the floor.
22. That tray underneath your car stereo can do with some hacking. Use small trays to organize odds and ends such as coins, sunglasses and audio jacks.
23. For extra storage inside the car, attach a bungee net to the roof handles. This allows you to make use of the extra overhead space.
24. These days, it’s important to place your phone or GPS device where you can see it to navigate properly. Use binder clips to make a very flexible phone or GPS mount. Instructions can be found here.
25. Or, if you don’t feel like doing too much assembly, you can thread a rubber band through the air vents to hold your phone in place.
26. Keep all your car fluids where you can easily access them. Use a shower caddy to organize fluids in your trunk.
27. Your windshield can accumulate some tough messes such as dead insects, paint splashes and sap. Carefully scrape your windshield with a razorblade to get the worst of it off. The windshield can then be buffed with glass cleaner to remove the rest.
28. Those backseat activities during a long road trip can tend to get messy, especially when children are using art materials. Use an iron and paper bag to get crayon stains out of your upholstery.
29. Keep a newly cleaned car smelling fresh using a DIY air freshener made of baking soda and essential oils.
30. Streaky windshield wipers are annoying and can further obscure a driver’s vision. Clean your windshield wipers with alcohol for a smooth wipe.
31. A little extra TLC goes a long way with car leather, allowing you to have gleaming surfaces in your car that look classy. Clean your car leather with a mixture made of olive and essential oil plus water.
32. After washing your tires, you can make your hubcaps gleam by cleaning them with baking soda. Simply add half a cup of baking soda and one tablespoon of dish soap to two cups of water and rub the mixture onto your tires and hubcaps.
1. Minor dents in your car can be removed using a plunger. Just pour some hot, soapy water onto the car surface to give the plunger proper suction, place the plunger in the middle of the dent, and pump a few times until the dent pops out.
2. Some older cars don’t have a cupholder, making on-the-go beverages a luxury you can’t have. Use a tape roll to serve as a makeshift cupholder.
3. Corrosion at your battery terminals can cause problems for you on the road. Use soda to remove corrosion during an emergency situation by pouring some directly on the battery’s problematic spots.
4. If the fan belt breaks, replace it with pantyhose so you can bring your car into the shop.
5. Keep a small crack on your windshield from spreading with clear nail polish. Dab an appropriate amount on the crack to lengthen the life of your windshield.
6. If you find yourself locked out of your car, there’s a simple method to use that won’t scratch it up. Unlock a car with shoelace by making a slipknot and inserting the lace through the door. You can use the knot to “grab” the lock, tighten it, and pull the lace up to unlock the door.
7. Scratches on your paint job are unsightly, and there are times when it would be difficult to bring your vehicle to the shop. Make a quick, temporary fix by applying nail polish closest to your car’s color on the offending marks.
Winter-proof for the Holidays
1. Mother Nature can help defrost your car during winter. Try parking your car facing east so that when daylight comes the sun will help melt the ice that has formed on it.
2. Your car door locks can freeze overnight, and it would be a bad idea to force your key in because it might snap off in the cold. Unfreeze your lock with hand sanitizer by applying it directly to the lock. It always pays to keep a bottle in your car, especially since it also serves as a disinfectant.
3. With colder temperatures outside of your car, your body warmth and breath can quickly fog up your windshield and windows, making for dangerous driving conditions. Applying shaving cream to windows and wiping it off will defog them better than anything else.
4. Windows can also frost up inside your car because of higher moisture levels. Make sure to remove any liquids like bottled water before you leave your car overnight. Place some cat litter in a sock and leave it in the car overnight to prevent frost.
5. Cat litter can also be used to help get you out of a slippery situation. When your car can’t move because of the ice, put cat litter under your tires to get traction. Another pro tip is to always keep a huge bag of cat litter in your car so that the added weight can push down on your rear tires and improve traction as well.
6. Your tires will need to be in tip-top shape (read: enough threading) for you to be able to drive on ice and snow. Check tire threads with the penny test for safe driving. Find out how here.
7. If you find your windshield and windows iced over after a night in the outdoors, melt the frost with a mixture of vinegar and water. Get the proper proportions here.
8. Did you forget your ice scraper at home on the first snow day of winter? Use any plastic card as an emergency ice scraper.
9. When the cold weather comes, your car becomes a warm and inviting place for small animals. Mouse-proof your vehicle by putting dryer sheets under the hood.
10. Use old socks to cover windshield wipers during a night outdoors so that they don’t freeze to your windshield. It would help to raise them first as well.
11. Prevent car doors from freezing shut by spraying a layer of cooking oil on the rubber lining and wiping it down with a piece of cloth.
12. Protect your side mirrors from the icy elements and prevent them from freezing by placing plastic bags over them. Gallon-sized Ziplocs work well for this.
13. Store some flattened cardboard boxes in your trunk to use for traction in the snow. Place them under your tires as you drive away.
More Cool Tips
1. In a large parking lot, you can unlock your car sooner by increasing the range of your key fob. Holding your key fob up to your chin basically makes use of the fluids in your body to act as an antenna extension.
2. Remember where you parked with the simplest tool ever: your smartphone’s camera. Take a photo of the section of the parking lot, noting the letter and number painted on the nearest column to where you parked.
3. Save fuel by switching off the engine after more than 10 seconds of being motionless—this is better than staying idle. Avoid stop-start driving to further save on fuel.
4. Always make sure that your tires are inflated to the maximum so that the drive becomes smoother, which will allow you to save gas. It would be great to check tire pressure every other time you gas your car up.
5. Sometimes, human error can strike even in the comfort of your own garage, resulting in you driving into the wall. This nifty device that employs a tennis ball to help you gauge when your car is the right distance from the wall. Here is how to make it.
6. Driving a car that isn’t yours? Here’s how to tell on which side to gas up: the fuel gauge usually has an arrow indicating where your gas tank’s cap is situated.
7. Protect your car doors from hitting the garage walls with plastic noodles. Cut one plastic noodle in half and place each half on either side of your car, around the height where the car door is most likely to hit the wall.
8. Use reflective paint on the inside of your car door (where the lock mechanism is) so that it can easily be seen by people or cars passing by when it’s open. Here is how to apply the paint. Alternatively, you can also use reflective tape.
9. Make your car documents more easily accessible by keeping them in an organizer in the glove compartment. This way, it’s easy to find them when they need to be taken out.
10. You can make a cool tissue dispenser that fits into your cup holder by placing tissues in a recycled coffee cup. This cup gets your tissues off the floor and allows you to recycle all the extra napkins you get with take-out. Find the tutorial here.
11. Here’s a really easy way to cool down a hot car: Open one window in front; go to the opposite door and flap it open and closed five times in succession. This action will cause a one-way air flow that will significantly lower the temperature of your car.
12. Make a DIY diffuser for your car by gluing felted balls onto a clothespin and dropping essential oils on them. Clip the clothespin onto your air vent and the musty smell will be banished from the vehicle.
13. Turn your steering wheel 180 degrees when parking on a hot day to lessen the heat on the top. When you return to the car, the part of the steering wheel you usually hold will be cooler to the touch.
14. Make iced water for your road trip by turning a half-filled Nalgene bottle on its side in the freezer. Upon taking it out, you can pour water in and have cold water in the car for hours.
15. A shower caddy can also be used for no-mess drive-thru eating, especially when kids are involved.
16. Make an iPad holder for your car’s head rest—you can show your children’s favorite movies to keep the entertained during an especially long trip. Here’s how to make one on your own.
17. Use tea infusers and natural herbs to make a DIY car freshener. Combinations of rosemary leaves, cinnamon sticks, lavender, and other plants make for a cheap way to leave your car smelling great.
18. This DIY seatbelt pillow is convenient and comfortable. It even has a pocket for your smartphone or media player. Here’s how to make it.