Everyone knows that you can use your car’s floor mats to get unstuck in icy conditions, or that you should park in the shade in hot weather. However, there are lots of less well-known car hacks that can turn you from a novice to a pro car owner. Here are five of the best car hacks that we think you should know.
Never Forget Where You’re Parked
Do you have a habit of parking your car somewhere, only to realize later that you have no idea where you left it? Never lose your car again by dropping a pin on your smartphone’s map when you park. Then when you need to return to your car later, you can pull up directions to the pin you placed. If your built-in map app doesn’t let you drop a pin, you can download an app like iParkedHere or Park Me Right to help you keep track of where you’re parked.
De-Ice Your Locks
When your car’s locks ice over in the winter, don’t worry about buying special de-icing products. If you’re one of the many Americans who carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with them, you’re in luck. The alcohol content in hand sanitizer is effective for melting ice. Just squirt some hand sanitizer on your key and work it into the lock. This is more effective than using hot water, which can freeze over and make the problem worse, and it’s much safer than trying to hold a lighter to your lock!
Fix Paint Scratches
Small scratches in your car’s paint job are inevitable. Between shopping carts bumping your car, debris landing on it during storms, and taking stuff in and out of your car, you’re bound to end up with small scratches that impact your car’s appearance and create opportunities for rust to take hold. Thankfully, you can protect your car easily and cheaply by applying nail polish to small scratches. A color that matches your car’s paint is best, but clear polish also works if you can’t find an exact color match. Just apply a thin coat to any scratches until you can have it professionally touched up.
Get Better Service
A clean engine is easier and more pleasant to service. Keep your mechanic on your good side by maintaining a clean engine compartment. A little water, grease-cutting dish soap, and a soft rag is all it takes to keep your engine looking nice and running cool. Just be sure to cover any electrical components or other sensitive areas first to keep them from getting wet.
Improve Gas Mileage
You can maximize your car’s gas mileage by “hypermiling.” Hypermiling is a group of techniques designed to improve your car’s fuel efficiency by changing your driving behaviors. Hypermiling techniques include stopping your engine instead of idling, using cruise control to maintain a steady speed, increasing following distance so you can coast to a stop, and parking in locations that allow for quick entry and exit, among others.
We love these five car hacks as useful, low-cost ways to be a more prepared driver. Do you have a clever car hack that you think we should know?