15 Clever DIY Car Hacks That Actually Work (And 5 That Don't)

Many motorists think of their car as their pride and joy, and see taking care of it as a hobby rather than a chore. Most drivers, however, are happy just to take their vehicle for the occasional trip to the car wash and would be even happier if they could find a few shortcuts to making their car look a little more presentable.

We’ve all had that embarrassing moment of offering a lift to a friend or co-worker, and only remembering when we open the car door that it has been weeks since we last cleaned out the trash. Bad smells can linger in the upholstery for even longer, while many motorists simply accept that dents and scratches are going to be with them for as long as they have the car.

Luckily, there are lots of clever car hacks to improve the appearance and even the performance of your vehicle, so even the laziest motorist can have a set of wheels of which they are proud. Of course, for every clever car hack that really does work, there are just as many which are a waste of time, and which can even cause more serious issues than the original problem which they were supposed to fix!

Check out the list below of clever car hacks that actually work – as well as some that don’t – and give them a try on your own vehicle.

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20 Works - Use Toothpaste To Clean Headlights

Via itstillruns.com

There can’t be many motorists who haven’t washed their car by hand at least once in their lives. Even experienced car washers can be guilty of thinking that good old soap and water is the best way to clean every part of your car when there are actually some parts of a vehicle’s exterior that need a little specialist attention.

For example, if the plastic covers on your headlamps have become dirty and cloudy, the best way to spruce them up is with toothpaste, which works in exactly the same way as it does when removing staining and particles from your teeth.

19 Works - Polish The Dashboard With Olive Oil

Via team-bhp.com

There are some parts of a car which get very little attention when it comes to washing day. Take the interior for example, which might occasionally have the vacuum cleaner run over the upholstery, but little else. However, a quick glance at your dashboard will show you just how dusty and dirty this part of the car can get. Once you have dusted the area, the best way to restore it to its former glory is by giving the area a quick polish with cloth soaked in olive oil. This brings back the old shine, as well as helping to keep the area dust-free for longer.

18 Works - Nail Polish Can Fix Paintwork Scratches

Via wired.com

Scratches and scrapes are, unfortunately, part and parcel of being a car owner, and many motorists simply put up with the small ones, rather than paying their local repair shop a small fortune to patch up the area. There is a clever hack for this problem, however, and that is nail polish.

Of course, nail polish is not as resilient as the exterior paintwork on your car, but for the sake of patching up a small scratch, it works perfectly well. Plus, there are thousands of shades of nail polish on the market, which means that finding one to match your car should be easy.

17 Works - Newspaper Can Clean Up Bumper Sticker Residue

Via mesavistapress.com

Bumper stickers are a great way to let the world know your thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of issues but they can also end up being something of an embarrassment, especially if you change your mind about a candidate or buy a used car from someone who supported your team’s big rivals!

Removing bumper stickers without leaving that bad residue isn’t always easy, but apparently, it can be done if you use a sheet of newspaper or a paper towel dipped in white vinegar, rather than a cloth, which just ends up spreading the leftover glue all over your paintwork.

16 Works - Park Facing East Where Possible

Via rd.com

If you have the misfortune to live somewhere cold, where every winter morning starts with the rigmarole of trying to get your car defrosted enough so that you can drive it to work, then this next hack could save you some time. If it is at all possible you should try and park facing east overnight, especially if you know that it is going to be cold enough to freeze overnight.

When the sun comes up in the east, this will at least get the defrosting process started and should allow you to get up and running and little quicker than those who have parked facing the opposite way!

15 Works - Use A Plunger To Fix Dents

Via wikihow.com

We have already seen how easy – and cheap – it can be to fix scratches on your car’s paintwork of you use nail polish, but a manicure isn’t going to work if your vehicle has a big dent in one of the side panels. Luckily, there is another clever hack for just such an eventuality.

Dig out a plunger from your bathroom, as this can be used to pull the panel back into shape; remember to wet the edges of the plunger first as this will help to ensure the tight seal needed if this hack is going to be successful.

14 Works - Hand Sanitizer Can De-Ice Keyholes

Via lifehacker.com

If you don’t manage to park your car facing east overnight, then you could well wake up to a vehicle encased in ice. Before you can even start to get the windscreen defrosted, you need to get inside the car itself – not always easy if you have an older car which still has keyholes, which can freeze over preventing you from even getting the key in and the car door open.

Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy, as a few sprays of these products, which are actually high in alcohol, can defrost car door keyholes in a matter of seconds.

13 Works - Boost The Range Of Your Car Key Using Your Chin

Via en.wikipedia.org

This next hack is actually quite widely known, although many motorists hearing about it for the first time tend to think that they are having their leg pulled and that it couldn’t possibly work. But believe it or not, holding your key fob to your chin can actually increase the range of the unlock button – very handy if you’re in a busy parking lot and can’t quite remember exactly where you parked your car.

The various cavities inside your skull help to boost the signal from your key fob, in the same way, that the antennae on old television sets always worked better when someone was touching them.

12 Works - Use Coca-Cola To Get Rid Of Rust

Via carfromjapan.com

Coca-Cola isn’t just a delicious soft drink; it also has some impressive anti-rust qualities – a fact which should probably make those who drink a lot of Coke think twice about what they are outing in their bodies. Most people will have seen the experiment where a rusty penny is left in a glass of Coca-Cola, only to be removed, rust-free, a few hours later.

It can also be used to clean patches of surface rust from a car’s exterior, although more serious and deep-seated areas of rust on the bodywork will need the attention of a mechanic rather than the contents of your refrigerator.

11 Works - Clean Your Windscreen With A Razor Blade

Via thoughtco.com

As with bumper stickers, it can sometimes be difficult to clean a car windshield without leaving lots of sticky streaks behind, usually from the bugs and insects which have met their untimely end when they collided with your car at 60mph on the highway.

Before you get the soap and water out, get a razor blade from the bathroom and use it to carefully scrape off anything that is stuck to the windscreen, perhaps with the help of a few splashes of specialist glass cleaning products, so that there is eventually no bugs or insects left behind to cause any unsightly streaks.

10 Works - Baking Soda Eradicates Unpleasant Smells

Via lifewire.com

Running the vacuum cleaner over the carpets and upholstery in your car from time to time might get rid of food crumbs and dirt, but it doesn’t always get rid of the smells that they can leave behind. Giving them a proper wash can be a time-consuming and expensive process, but there is a short-cut which can help to freshen the interior of a vehicle.

All you need to do is sprinkle a little baking soda over the upholstery and carpet inside your car, leave it for a few minutes and then run the vacuum cleaner over the area, and you’ll be left with clean, and clean-smelling, seats and carpets.

9 Works - Kitty Litter Stops Windshields From Fogging Up

Via rnr.autoglass.com

Fogged-up windscreens and windows are not just an annoyance for motorists; they can also make driving dangerous, as the driver’s view of the road can be obscured – and wiping away the condensation with your hand is only ever a temporary solution. Weirdly, if you stuff an old sock with a scoop of crystalline kitty litter, seal it closed with some duct tape and then leave it sitting on the dashboard, it can stop your windscreen from even steaming up in the first place.

The kitty litter works by drawing the moisture out of the air and keeping the windows clear.

8 Works - Use Laundry Baskets To Keep Your Trunk Organised

Via thesuperorganizerunivers.com

Trunks can all too easily become a dumping ground for the bits and pieces that people keep in their cars; everything from spare winter clothes to car repair equipment. However, if everything just gets thrown into the trunk willy-nilly, it could take ages for you to find the thing you’re looking for! A couple of cheap laundry baskets make for an easy and effective way to store items in your trunk without making a mess, along with other storage equipment, like shopping bags held into place with a mesh net.

These are just as good as the trunk organizers you can buy from motoring shops, but a lot cheaper.

7 Works - Replace Fan Belt With Pantyhose

Via bobistheoilguy.com

Replacing a broken fan belt with pantyhose is the ultimate car hack and one which seems to have been around as long as cars themselves! However, as cars become more technologically advanced, the good old pantyhose trick is becoming less and less relevant.

However, if you drive an older car which still has what is called a V-belt system, and the fan belt breaks, it is possible to patch it up with a spare pair of pantyhose – which will at least last you for the few miles it takes to get to a repair shop where you can get the problem fixed properly.

6 Works - Turn On Your Seat Warmer To Keep Take-Out Food Hot

Via warosu.org

Most modern cars come with seat warmers built-in; perfect for those cold winter mornings when it can take a while for a vehicle’s heating system to get up and running. However, people who live in warm parts of the world may feel that seat warmers are an unnecessary addition – until they realize that they can use this added extra to keep their take-out food warm on the ride home!

This is such a simple car hack, it seems bizarre that there are people out there who don’t use their seat warmers to keep their pizza or burgers nice and hot.

5 Don’t Work - Rubber Chicken Parking Sensor

Via imgur.com

One feature that now comes as standard on most modern cars is the rear parking sensor. Even if the car doesn’t offer a rear camera, which helps the driver to see how much room they have, the parking sensor will beep loudly when you are getting too close to the wall or vehicle behind you. Drivers can even have these sensors installed into older cars, but there are still those who prefer to look for a cheaper solution.

Unfortunately, strapping a squeaky rubber chicken to your rear bumper is not an adequate replacement; for one thing, the noise it makes is far too quiet!

4 Don’t Work - Replace Broken Side Mirror With A Regular Mirror

Via thecarconnection.com

Broken side mirrors are an all-too-common for drivers. They can be snapped off by vandals, or knocked off by passing cars, leaving motorists with a dangerous blind spot if they don’t get them replaced.

Some people seem to think that you can just strap an ordinary mirror into the spot where your side mirror used to be, but that doesn’t take into account the fact that car mirrors use special glass which helps to give the driver an accurate picture of what is behind them – something which regular mirrors cannot achieve – while duct tape is no replacement for a properly affixed side mirror in any case.

3 Don’t Work - Using An Umbrella In A Convertible

Via real-fix.com

There is nothing quite like riding along a sunny highway in a convertible with the top down. Until you start to feel those first specks of rain and realize that you are going to have to pull over somewhere quickly to put your roof back up! Or do you? After all, why waste all that time putting up the roof when you could just use a handy umbrella to keep you and your passenger dry while the shower passes over.

Great for you – not so great for the cars behind who get hid by said umbrella when the wind whips it out of your hand…

2 Don’t Work - Make A Cellphone Holder With A Rubber Band

Via carbasics.co.uk

Drivers of older cars may feel that they are missing out on some of the best features to be found in newer vehicles. Connectivity is one of those features which have revolutionized driving, allowing motorists to connect their cars to their cell phones. Even if your car is too old to do that, you can always buy a cell phone holder which attaches your device to the dashboard; or if you’re too cheap to buy one from the store, why not simply use a rubber band to attach your cell phone to the heater vent?

A great hack until the rubber band snaps, sending your cell phone flying to the floor.

1 Don’t Work - Soda Can Exhaust Pipe

Via youtube.com

Like using pantyhose to fix a broken fan belt, it is possible to use a soda can to hold a split exhaust pipe in position until you can get to a repair shop. The problem is that unlike the pantyhose, which will only last a short distance before snapping, it can too easy for last motorists to leave the soda can in its so-called temporary position for quite a long time, thinking that they can save themselves some cash in the meantime.

While the soda can might appear to be working, however, the heat of the exhaust pipe will often melt the metal in the can, causing bigger problems than you had in the first place.

Sources - Popular Mechanics, Your Mechanic, Drive Tribe, The Auto Warehouse, Auto Blog

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