From money-saving tips, to solutions to problems you never knew you had – or are going to have - this list of essential car hacks is a must-read.
Boost your Key Fob Range by Using Your Head
You can boost the range of your remote key fob by holding it against your skull – essentially your head acts as an antenna. So next time you’re looking for your car in the parking lot, try this trick to get it to beep and flash its lights.
Use Parking Apps – or Just Take a Picture
If you do happen to keep losing your car in car parks, there are several apps that will record and remind you of where you parked. Some smart phones will do that as a standard feature, for example when you park and disconnect your iPhone from Bluetooth or Apple CarPlay, it records the location and can guide you back via the Maps app. Additionally if you’re in a multistorey shopping mall car park, just take a few pictures, particularly of the location identifiers. Never have any change to pay parking meters? Again, download apps like RingGo and PayByPhone.
Preserve your Windscreen Wipers
The rubber on windscreen wipers is prone to drying and cracking. Regularly wipe the wiper blades with window cleaner fluid to keep them healthy.
If you need to get your hands on some, head down to your local Halfords and use your 10% off instore voucher to save some cash!
Alternative Car Air Freshener
Forget those cardboard cut-out trees to hang on your rear-view mirror, instead leave a scented candle in your car’s cupholder (ensure it’s in glass or a glass jar). DO NOT LIGHT. As the interior heats up while the car is parked, the wax will melt and release the fragrance into the cabin.
Losing Things in the Black Hole
You’re familiar with the black hole, right? It’s that gap between the centre console and your seat bolster, where inevitably you’ll lose coins, keys and even mobile phones. The remedy is simple. Buy some of those soft foam pool noodles, cut to size and stuff them into the gap to never lose loose change ever again!
Keep the Takeaway Warm on the Way Home
Hate it when the Chicken Tikka Masala gets cold by the time you’ve arrived home? If you have heated seats in your car, turn them up to full and place your food on the seat cushion. It won’t heat your takeaway, but should keep it warm enough to eat.
Plastic Container as a Car Bin
Does your car end up a tip after a few too many lunches on the go? Make a portable bin out of a plastic box (such as a refillable plastic cereal container). Put a bin liner in it and slide it in behind the passenger seat for a handy reach.
Cupcake Liners for Cup Holders
Do you get frustrated with all the dust, crumbs and overspilt drinks residue that always ends up at the bottom of the cup holders – the hardest place to clean? Deploy some cupcake liners into the base and just replace them when they get dirty.
Tyre Wear Indicators
Some suggest checking if your tyre tread depth is sufficient by sticking a twenty pence coin into the pattern and ensuring that the outer border is hidden. If it isn’t, your tyres need changing. However, many tyres now have wear indicators embedded into the grooves. Marks on the sidewalls will indicate where to find them, and they appear as hard ridges between the patterns. If the surrounding rubber is at the same level, again, bad news, they need changing.
Rubber Band Phone Mount
Haven’t got a phone mount? Or did the cheap one you bought down the market just break? Keep a spare rubber band in the glovebox. A simple hack is to thread it through the dashboard air vent and around one of the blades. Then just hook the two ends over your phone to hold it in place.
Sanitisers to Defrost Locks
Most of us carry around little bottles or tubes of hand sanitiser these days. An additional use for them is to free up frozen door locks on those cold winter days, as the alcohol in the solution will melt the ice.
Kitty Litter to Keep Going
Another winter driving tip is to keep a big bag of kitty litter in the boot when venturing out in snowy or icy conditions. If you do get stuck, spreading the litter around the driven wheels will provide some aid to the traction.
Lighten the Key Load on the Ignition
In cars where you have to insert the key into the ignition to start the car, lighten the keyring as much as possible. Additional weight constantly pulling down on the ignition barrel causes wear and could ultimately result in a fault.
Dashboards – Clean with Coconut Oil to Prevent Cracking
Ever noticed the dashboard tops in older cars cracking. To avoid this use vegetable, olive or coconut oil to clean it. You’ll not only get a nice sheen to the surface, but also a protective layer, and it prevents cracking and fading usually caused by sunlight. Make sure you do a patch test first to see if you like the results and ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage.
Upgrade Your Spec Without Buying a New Car
Many new cars, even at entry level, are now stacked with enough electronics and kit to drive you green with envy in your old jalopy. But you can have some of those features in your car for a lot less than the cost of trading up!
For example, heated seats are emulated by seat warming pads; you can have Bluetooth, digital radio and hands-free calling even with a simple car radio by buying an FM Bluetooth transmitter (usually only about £20). Plus, an adjustable swivel table that clamps into your cupholders make snacking – or working - easier.
Reversing cameras and parking sensors are available to be installed aftermarket for just a few hundred pounds. As are car fridges. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, hands-free locking and unlocking, as well as remote engine starting can be had.
Along with trackers, an immobiliser you operate from your phone, or use a uniquely configured sequence of button presses to start the car (look for something called ‘Ghost’) will keep your pride and joy secure. You could even opt for dash cams that monitor the surroundings continuously, even when you’ve parked the car and left, so you’ll know if someone hits it, scratches it, or tries to break in.