No one wants to spend money when they don’t have to. That’s a common trait for most people and especially for car owners. Repair shops often boast of having the lowest prices around because they know that most car owners will go for the cheapest option rather than the ones that hit the wallet hardest.
Meanwhile, the internet has fueled the entire “Do It Yourself” option by showcasing various quick fixes that won’t hurt the pocketbook too much. For cars, it’s amazing how many seemingly cheap moves can pay dividends and help someone avoid spending huge amounts of cash on work. Online tutorials can teach owners how to replace engines, batteries, and other items at a fraction of the cost a repair shop could charge. Even if someone has little to no car knowledge, some of these “hacks” can do wonders to aid a car out.
But not all hacks work equally. Too often, owners fail to realize how critical some car parts are and that no amount of quick fixes can repair it. They can use the wrong materials for these hacks and think it can be beneficial. Other times, the owner can mistake a major problem for a minor issue that can be handled with any household item. The brutal truth is that even the best hacks are only temporary measures and it’s much better in the long run for a professional to handle the repairs. Some hacks are just so amazingly bad that they should be avoided by any sane car owners. Here are 25 DIY hacks that can only cause more damage to a car and never be used.
25 Forget Something?
A shattered rear windshield can be a rough hassle for drivers. It’s not as vital as the front window is but obviously, protecting the interior from the elements is a major must for any driver. Using tape to cover a small crack is one thing. Even using it to hold a window inside isn’t a terrible idea. This driver, however, is using it way too much. It appears he’s just covered the empty rear hole with nothing but tape in a variety of thick layers. This makes it basically impossible to see through and a huge risk not just to the driver but others on the road as well. The driver of this car forgot glass works much better than tape
This is one of the biggest misconceptions of any car owner. When a mirror breaks, it can be a hassle, whether it’s the rearview interior mirror or one of the side ones. Thus, the idea is simply to take some hand mirror, tape it up, and use it. The problem is that car mirrors are specially designed to not only handle the elements better but are shaped to be curved, as that helps the driver’s vision. A flat mirror can show only a sliver of the road because of how the light bounces off of it. There’s a reason the “objects are closer than they appear” line is used because a flat mirror creates a massive blind spot, meaning this is a hack that can cause serious risk to drivers and should be avoided majorly.
23 Literal Garbage
The front hood of a car or truck is absolutely vital. It’s not just the obvious of covering the engine, battery and other important parts. There’s also how it aids the car’s aerodynamics and thus aids its smooth driving. When your hood is cracked so badly that it requires a replacement, it should be done as soon as possible to ensure a good ride. What should not be done is taking a huge tarp, tying it to the hood, and thinking that works just as well. There’s far too much risk of the tarp breaking and dirt, rocks, and other stuff getting into the engine. It also throws off the balance of the car. The hood is a critical piece of any automobile and no tarp can correct that.
22 Singing in the Rain
Having an umbrella in the car is always a smart idea. Even if you’re not expecting a rainstorm, it can be helpful having some sort of protection. But utilizing it as a replacement for another part is never the right move. Some owners try to use umbrellas as convertible covers, which is rather laughable. Using it as a window replacement isn’t much better. You’d need to have it secured somehow or it goes flying out and taping that thing down is a lot trickier than it seems. The bigger issue is that it’s pretty hard to find a totally transparent umbrella which means your rear view is going to be blocked. It’s better to use an umbrella for simple walking rather than car fixes.
21 A Bad Run
The old saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention. So many hacks are needed for sudden breakdowns while on the road. A common one for female drivers is when they find their fan belt broken down, they simply remove their pantyhose and use it to tie the belt down until they can get to a repair shop. As Snopes once pointed out, this was one of those “urban legend” fixes that really doesn’t work. Today’s fan belts are amazingly complex, with several belts that work together. A simple piece of nylon will do nothing to repair the damage and leave a driver out both a working car and a pair of stockings.
20 A Penny Saved...
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No one is quite sure how this got started but it’s become an odd trend in the last few years. Lately, drivers have decided to fix their hoods by affixing pennies to them. Some spend thousands of dollars in coins to the bodywork to make it stand out. Owners can claim it not only makes it look flashier but also makes the bodywork tougher. The truth is that copper isn’t as impressive as good old-fashioned steel and can even cause long-term damage to the bodywork (especially in harsher elements). There’s also the fact this is a “fix” that spends far more money than any repair work could, which completely defeats the purpose of a hack. These owners should better know how to spend their pennies.
19 Hanging by a Thread
Here’s another common mistake that too many self-repair guys make. The idea is that if the axle is somehow loose, all you need to do is tighten it up a bit and it’s fine. In this case, the owner used what appears to be a simple piece of rope to hold something in place. It’s also used for temporary fixes on exhaust pipes to ensure they don’t fall off. The emphasis is on “temporary.” This rope appears to be quite thin and pulled so tight it seems ready to snap at any moment. Throw in the close proximity to so much heat and it’s obvious one frayed thread is all it takes to turn this fix into a total automotive disaster.
18 Slimy Sponge
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One of the absolute best DIY hacks is covering your wipers in plastic bags during snowstorms. It keeps them from freezing up and aids their movements. If your wipers are lost, a tiny brush can be a good replacement until they’re fixed. A sponge, however, is not the way to go in terms of wiper replacements. It lacks the size and wide range of regular wipers, or even a broom, to keep the glass clear. In this case, the sponge is small and barely looks properly attached to the bar. It looks like it’s about to go flying off with one fast swipe. While a few wiper fixes can work, a sponge belongs in the kitchen more than on car windows.
17 Wrong Insulation
Window repair often lends itself to some DIY tricks. Sometimes they can be smart and easy like using duct tape to keep the window affixed. This one isn’t quite as smart as it places household style insulation into the frame in an attempt to keep a small window in place. Taking what looks like an attic window and thinking it’ll fit a vehicle is a bad idea from the start. Tossing in some thick insulation that can cause issues with the interior of the vehicle makes it worse. Insulating your car is a good idea, especially in the winter months. However, using a completely wrong window in size and shape makes the entire car look bad.
16 Just Bag It In
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When your windshield is cracked, it can lead to serious problems. The worse the crack, the more your vision is impaired. There’s also the issue of how it’s harder to drive when the wind is blowing right at your face. Plus, there’s exposing the interior of your car to the elements. In this case, the entire front windshield is completely gone, which should make the car unusable. Instead, the driver is attempting to keep going with just plastic wrap in place. It should be obvious that it’s nearly impossible to see through that material and would make a crash very likely. Just one tiny tear could be a disaster—and forget driving through bad weather. If the windshield is gone this much, it’s time to just bag it in and get a replacement.
15 Taped Tires
This is a very common DIY hack and it’s good for a short-term emergency fix. What’s not good is thinking it can last a while. In this case, duct tape can do wonders for fast fixes for your car. However, trying to use it to fix a tire doesn’t always work out well. In this case, there’s way too much tape, to the point that it’s clearly making the wheel misshapen. That can throw the car’s balance off and make it harder to turn or even maintain the right speed. If a hole is so bad that it requires that much tape, it’s time to get a new tire. Duct tape is good for short-term fixes but even it can’t withstand the rigors of the road. The more tape you need, the more desperate a real tire is required.
14 The Literal Bandage
You have to give major props for creativity here. Anyone can get some sort of blanket or cover for a huge dent or missing door but this driver went all-out by getting a Band-Aid the size of a surfboard to use. It sure gets attention and is guaranteed to show where the damage is (the dashes of red are a nice touch). However, it also makes your car look amazingly cheap and pretty distracting for other drivers. Again, it’s a very inventive type of repair but, perhaps, drawing attention to how much your car is ailing isn’t the best idea for some drivers.
13 Pop on the Pipes
A common trick when the exhaust pipe becomes cracked is to use a soda can for a replacement. It can work surprisingly well and hold the pipe until a real repair can be made. But using it for the main pipe ending isn’t as good an idea. The heat of the engine can cause the metal to melt and cause further damage. In this case, the driver forgot the key touch of popping any holes in the can for the exhaust to come out. Capping the fumes is one of the absolute worst things you could do to your engine and shows how the “pop can fill-in” can be a risky move if done incorrectly.
12 Slipped Disc
The gas tank is another one of those things on a car you don’t think of too often. That is, until it somehow gets broken or goes missing. Exposing the fuel intake to the open air is never a smart idea because of the dirt that can get in there can start causing issues. A replacement is needed, yes, but a CD? This offers little real protection and the fact it appears to be attached by scotch tape means it won’t stick on too long. Sure, it has a hole in the center for fueling but it's nowhere near big enough to handle most gas station hoses. Used CDs can have some uses yet a fuel cap replacement is completely out of tune.
10 Wheel It Out
Maybe we can cut some slack and assume this was a literal last-minute fix—that the truck suddenly lost a wheel, there wasn’t a spare, and the driver needed something to move it a few blocks to the repair shop. That’s preferable to the idea of this guy going around constantly thinking that a packing car in place of a rear wheel was a good idea. One bad bump and that thing gets loose and causes a huge wreck. There’s a reason why tow trucks are always the better way to go than some sort of fast replacement to get such a vital part of the car handled.
9 Hand Wipers
Most hacks are designed to cut down on the effort needed for major repair work. For some reason, this driver expressly went for a hack that requires constant work to keep going. Rather than have their automatic wipers repaired, they instead have tied it to cords that extend into the car. So the driver needs to have the windows open a crack and then pull on the cord to make the wipers work. This, obviously, defeats the purpose of wipers when driving in the rain and means the driver has to have one hand on the wheel and the other for the wipers. It shows how you never consider how important wipers are until a quick fix is needed.
8 You Got Hosed
There’s no substitute for regular tires. That should be a blatantly obvious fact for any rookie car owner. They’re designed for the road and trying to replace them with something else never works out, which is why it’s so mind-boggling that this owner decided to take a standard garden hose (or two), wrap it around the rim, and hope it works. It won’t, as there’s no way a rubber hose can match the power of a tire or handle the weight of the car on top of it. There are no other details on how this worked out but it’s easy to imagine the car didn’t get far before the hose snapped and caused more damage. It shows that there’s no other way to substitute your tires.
7 Fuse Lit
Brake lights can vary from car model to model. Some are automatic and usually not something to worry about. Other models do require a brake light to be manual and that can cause issues. This driver has a model that needs to have the brake light put on manually but the switch appears to have broken somehow. The solution is to take a household wall switch, wire it up to the car, and tape the switch itself to the dashboard. It’s a pretty convoluted way to solve an easy problem, which is a bit more hassle than a simple repair shop trip would be.
6 Wood You Like To See?
This has become an oddly popular trend among some truck owners. When a bumper is broken off, the owner gets a large piece of lumber and either nails or ties it to the rear (and occasionally front) as a replacement. It sounds good, except that wood doesn’t absorb the impact of a crash like a regular bumper would. This would just make it easier to smash up your entire rear with a bad bump. Not to mention, it would cause dangers to others on the road should the plank get loose and end up falling into the path of another car. It’s one of the better cases of a “repair” that just runs the risk of more serious damage down the road.
5 Light It Up
This is one of the more common DIY hack mistakes a driver makes. Various places, from magazines to websites like Jalopnik, warn drivers that it should not be done. Yet somehow, the idea is that if your headlight is broken, all you need to do is take a flashlight, tie or tape it into the slot and it’ll work just as fine. The issue, of course, is that even a high-powered flashlight can’t come close to the illumination of a headlight. It can also harm the car’s wiring system when not properly hooked up, and that's not to mention how easily it can break loose and roll about your hood. It’s another case of it being much simpler to pop for the repair work rather than light your way like this.
4 Movie Night?
Using a soda can for a pipe replacement is one thing; at least it’s metal and it fits the car correctly. But a popcorn bucket is something else. Using a cardboard substance in your engine is a huge risk in itself as it’d be far too easy for it to catch on fire. There’s also how it looks barely tired on right with just thin twine. Even a plastic jug would have been better than this. Unless the driver had just left a movie theater and needed a fast fix, there’s no excuse for using this poor replacement for a key interior part.
3 Rear Ended
Having your rear lights go off isn’t just an inconvenience, it can also get you a ticket because of how important those lights are for other drivers. Thus, cracking a rear light should mean a fast repair. What it should not mean is taking a clear plastic bottle of the same color as the light, duct taping it to the rear, and hoping that works out well. What makes this worse is how it’s quite obvious the entire rear of this car is smashed so badly that it’s almost literally broken in two. This driver should be lucky to get out of his driveway without a cop pulling him over. Thermoses are better to drink from then use for a fast repair job.
2 Door Cooling
Here’s a hack that makes you wonder just how much time and effort were really saved. When your air conditioner breaks down, it can be quite a hassle. Even if you just need to have the refrigerant replaced, it can run a hefty price. But is that really worse than taking a huge AC unit, welding it to the outside of your car, boarding up the rear window, and bolting a huge generator to the back of the truck? This is absolutely ludicrous and a huge risk to other drivers on the road if this were to break off. This is a “hack” that shows how far some drivers will go to avoid a repair bill.
1 Assault on a Battery
The battery is a critical element of your car and should always be maintained. It can be tricky because too often, a seemingly perfectly good battery will die with little to no warning. Keeping the conductors clean is a must, yet there are times a battery can be hard to fit in once taken out. In this case, the owner decided to use bungee cords to hold it down. That may seem like a good solution (better than duct tape) but there’s a serious risk. All it takes is one good bump and those cords snap and the metal holder hits the engine. Which means your car turns into a ticking fire hazard and it’s only a matter of time before it ignites.
Sources: Diply, Superstreet Online, and Wikipedia.