Car Hacks That Really Work: From Frozen Locks to Fixing Dents

Whether you just bought a new car or you’re looking for ways to maintain it or even just make the old one more interesting, after you see these hacks, you’ll wonder why you never thought of these ideas before! When it comes to hacks, cars are an area in which tips and tricks can come in handy. But let’s face it – some hacks are pretty useless or downright ridiculous.

The gas gauge in a car with a little arrow to the left next to the gas pump icon / A person using yellow slime to remove dust from an air conditioning vent in a car
Source: 123rf, Chakrapong Worathat / Amazon

But not these. These car hacks are for the efficient, resourceful type – the kind of people who could always use another simple and useful way to do something. After all, hacks are meant to make our lives easier, right? So let us help you make life easier.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Get More Range on Your Key Fob

Do you feel as though you’re never close enough when you’re trying to lock or unlock your car? Well, who said that the range of your key fob is set in stone? Here’s a strange yet effective hack that can help you out. The next time you try to unlock your car and find that it’s simply out of reach, place the fob on your chin and press the button.

A man holding a key fob under his chin with a close-up photograph of a key fob
Source: YouTube

Yes, it’s strange and, yes, it works. It looks weird, and people might give you looks, but it works. Apparently, your brain waves can extend the fob’s reach and allow you to unlock your car from a further distance. There’s no harm in trying it!

Check Your Tires with a Coin

If you’re not sure whether the time has come to buy new tires, the “penny test” will help you make the right decision. For those who don’t know, the condition of a tire is measured by how deep its treads are. The simple rule of thumb: the deeper, the better.

A coin being placed in the car tire ridges
Source: YouTube

So, in order to check whether your tires are still good, take a penny and turn it so that the top of Lincoln’s head is facing the ground. Dip the penny into the tire treads to check the depth. If it goes past Lincoln’s forehead, then the tires still have some life left. If not, then it’s time for new tires, folks!

Fix Dents with a Plunger

Here’s another money saver for all the unlucky car owners who tend to find a dent here and there. Depending on the dent, fixing the bad ones can be quite costly. But sometimes a dent can be fixed in your driveway or garage with something as simple as a plunger. And we all have a plunger hanging around the house.

Someone using a plunger to remove a dent in a car
Source: Pinterest

That’s right; this bathroom accessory can help fix your vehicle. Here’s what you do: Put the plunger onto the center of the dent. Then, pull as hard as possible until the dent is evened out. Try it a couple times if it didn’t turn out well the first time. (Now you can fix the dent before your husband or wife finds out about it.)

De-Freezing a Keyhole

Winter is not a car owner’s favorite season. And if you don’t have a garage, you’re especially unhappy about the cold days. Windshield wipers and mirrors aren’t the only things that freeze on cars. Keyholes do, too, and it can really make your morning rush to work that much more stressful when you can’t even fit the key into your door.

A bottle of hand sanitizer attached to a car key ring
Source: Pinterest

Well, with this hack, you won’t have to call in late anymore. If your keyhole is frozen, put some hand sanitizer on it. Thanks to COVID, most of us have it on us at all times. So, put as much of the stuff into the lock as possible. The alcohol heats up the ice and lets it unfreeze quickly.

As for the Wipers and Mirrors

Okay, so the frozen locks are now solved. But what about those darn frozen windshield wipers and car mirrors? Anything frozen is a real nightmare, but letting such fragile car parts freeze can lead to unnecessary damage and expenses. Since it seems as though the winters are only getting worse, try to remember this hack for the upcoming winter. It will save you!

Socks on the windshield wipers of a snow-covered car
Source: Flickr / William F Hertha

When it comes to your windshield wipers, it’s as simple as getting a pair of old socks (preferable long ones) and putting them over the wipers when you park the car for the night. In the morning, they’re as good as new. As for the windows, a simple nylon bag does the trick.

Foggy Headlights No More

Foggy headlights aren’t only an eyesore. The problem is that they can seriously impact the quality of your vision at night. Of course, you could spend the $30 to get them fixed professionally. But then what would be the point of these car hacks?

A cloth with some toothpaste on it sitting next to a foggy car headlight
Source: Pinterest

So here’s the cheap and easy way to handle the problem. Take toothpaste and smear it all over the headlights. Let it sit for a minute before you rub it in with a clean cloth. Keep rubbing it in until you see the fog lifting. Voila!

Which Side Is It?

Okay, some of you may roll your eyes at this one, but I think there are many people who have never noticed this, and once they do, they will throw their hands up in the air and say, “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me this?” If you look at the details on your gas gauge, you’ll see that there is an arrow next to the little gas pump icon.

The gas gauge in a car with a little arrow to the left next to the gas pump icon
Source: 123rf / Chakrapong Worathat

Well, dear friends, that arrow points to the side of the car in which the gas tank is located. Now, whenever you pull up to the gas station and you – once again – forget which side it’s on, you can literally look in front of you. Yes! You’re welcome!

Get a Fresher Car Smell

There are many reasons why cars develop a bad smell. Maybe you have kids who eat in the car, or you take your dog with you in the car, or you have a partner who handles fish all day at the supermarket. Whatever the reason – this can help you out.

Dryer sheets stuffed into the air conditioning vents
Source: Reddit

If you don’t have a box of dryer sheets at home, head to the nearest supply store, and buy one. Place a sheet inside of the air conditioning vents and underneath each car seat. Soon enough, the smell of the sheets will penetrate through the seat itself and neutralize any unpleasant smells in the car. In general, you should always air the car out once in a while, too.

Absorb Moisture Buildup on the Dashboard

Every driver has to deal with condensation once in a while. The window fog can seriously impact your driving. It’s not only annoying but also potentially dangerous. There’s a hack for this, too, and it involves a bag of rice.

A sock filled with rice being placed on the dashboard
Source: Pinterest

You can use an old shirt or any material you find at home to create a little pocket to fill with rice. Once that’s done, place the bag of rice on the dashboard and let it sit there, absorbing moisture in the vehicle. It’s perfect for the colder months. You can also zap it in the microwave every now and then to dry it up.

Fix Scratches with Nail Polish

Let’s face it; no one is going to go to the mechanic or the car shop just to fix a little scratch. They’re going to overcharge you for something that you can do at home. On the other hand, if you don’t address the scratch, it will bother you as time goes by. One scratch leads to more and more.

A person covering scratches with nail polish
Source: Pinterest

Save the cash and grab a bottle of nail polish. Obviously, it has to be the same shade as your car. Fellas, ask your ladies to help you out with this one. It’s literally as easy as it sounds: paint over the scratch and voila!

The Garage Wall Noodle

Attention, all garage owners! This one is pretty neat. Pool noodles seem completely useless in real life, especially for those of us who don’t have pools. But they can come in really handy. And a lot more people have garages than pools. These pool noodles can protect your car door and save you money on repairs.

A car door opening to a pool noodle cut in half and attached to the wall
Source: Tumblr

If you have a small garage and getting in and out of your parked car in the garage is a daily struggle, this is a good hack. Just cut the noodle in half and glue it straight onto the wall at the exact spot that the door usually hits it.

Do You Know About the Hidden Lock?

Attention, all new car owners with electric locks! All new vehicles now rely on electric locks. For many, that is a great thing. But there are some cons to not having a key, like forgetting the code or a possible computer crash. So, what can you do if the electric components fail you? Well, the truth is that every car still has a manual lock.

A person holding the cover next to the exposed hidden lock on a car door
Source: Flickr

Next time you get into your car, check out the door handle for a little plastic piece at the edge. Remove it, and you’ll feel a good old manual lock beneath it. It can be a lifesaver on the off chance that you get yourself locked out of your car.

In a Hurry?

This isn’t necessarily a tangible kind of hack, but a hack nonetheless. When it comes to being in a rush, you’re naturally more likely to drive faster and thus go over the speed limit. But, by doing that, you may slowly wear out your brakes.

A red light shining on traffic lights in front of a blue sky
Source: 123rf / Monticello

Apparently, stoplights have been designed in a way that allows those who follow the speed limit to get green lights more often. So, if you stick to the speed limit and cruise patiently (there’s no point in rushing to a red light), you will hit fewer red lights and, therefore, be more likely to arrive on time.

Makeshift Garbage Bin

This one is especially useful if you have kids in the car often. They are tiny little trash creators. So, if you’re tired of collecting trash from all over your car, you can solve the problem easily by making a mini trash can. This way, your kids and your passengers have a place to put their garbage in. Luckily, every household has the thing you need for this hack.

A cereal box next to the passenger’s seat with a plastic bag in it
Source: Pinterest

Find an ordinary plastic cereal container and place a plastic bag inside of it. Close the lid of the container over the bag, so it stays in place. Then place the makeshift trash can in the back seat and tell your little ones to place the trash in there and not on the floor!

Keep Your Car Cool

If you’re one of the many car owners who are forced to drive during hot summer days without air conditioning, you should keep the car cool using the good old window method. It sounds so simple, but sometimes the simplest things work the best.

A navy blue minivan with the two front windows open
Source: Reddit

Most people make the mistake of rolling down all four windows in the car. The thing is, this will only make the air travel from window to window without much of an effect. Instead, roll down the first two windows to get results. Keep the back ones closed, and the air will be forced to circulate and create a cooler environment. And one day you can fix that darn AC.

Keep It Clean

Sure, keeping the exterior of your car nice and shiny is wonderful. But if the interior looks like a messy laundry room, then what good is it? One way to keep the inside of your car clean is to use a spare coffee filter from your kitchen. You can use it to wipe down surfaces inside the car.

A coffee filter sitting on the top of a car dashboard
Source: Pinterest

It may sound a little strange, but coffee filters are very efficient for this purpose. Instead of spending cash on fancy wipes made for the car, you can get tons of coffee filters at a low price in the supermarket. Keep a bunch in the car and make it a weekly thing.

The Key Ring Hack

Can we all agree that adding new keys to a key ring is one of those micro annoyances in our lives? The stiff metal ring can ruin your nails (ladies) or pierce your stubby fingers (some men) or cause sharp pain if not done correctly. Here’s a way to add things to your key ring easily.

A stapler remover holding open a key ring
Source: Facebook

Find a stapler to hold the metal rings apart and add the new key. Just don’t stretch out the ring too much. And yes, this may be a hack you don’t find any use for, but if that’s the case, just skip on over to the next one!

Taking Off Stickers

Let’s say you just bought a used car or that you went through a phase when all you did was a slap on every sticker you found and now you’re trying to get rid of them. Whatever the case, getting old stickers off your car is no easy feat. Stubborn stickers tend to leave a mark or glue residue on car surfaces.

Someone using a blow dryer to heat up a sticker on the back bumper of a car
Source: Flickr

And no one wants that as it can really mess up the whole aesthetic of the vehicle. One way to get rid of the stickers without leaving a trace is by using a hairdryer. Apply hot air to the sticky area until the sticker can be removed easily.

Keep Your Cup Holders Clean

Cup holders are some of the most convenient car features. The only problem is that since they’re so useful, they tend to get really dirty and sticky way too quickly. Instead of trying to vacuum the holders every once in a while or trying to wipe them, you can simply put little cupcake cups inside.

Cupcake holders inside of cup holders in the middle of a car
Source: Pinterest

These cups will prevent any dust, debris, and liquids from ruining your cup holders. The best part is that when they’re dirty, you can just replace them with new ones. Clean cup holders lead to a clean car, which leads to feeling better about your car which leads to a better driving experience!

Seat Warmer + Pizza = Great Idea

Anyone who has ordered a pizza to take home and then got stuck in traffic on the way knows that the pizza gets cold. And that means you have to warm it up again at home while your kids whine, asking you, “Is it ready yet?” Let’s all prevent this scenario from happening! How? By this simple yet genius hack.

Pizza boxes staying warm on a passenger side heated seat
Source: Reddit

Place the pizza on the warm seat and enjoy your warm pizza! But you might not want to tell the whole community about it because you might become the next unofficial pizza delivery person. And really, this can also work on those store-bought seat warmers that you plug into the dashboard.

If You Always Hit the Back Wall of the Garage

This is one for the drivers who seem to always hit the back wall of their garage and by doing so, making their partners angry. That’s no fun. Even if it’s only a small, insignificant touch of the wall, it can lead to damage and scratches if it’s a repeated thing. So here’s an idea that does the job and only requires a few minutes of preparation.

A tennis ball hanging down from a garage ceiling
Source: Pinterest

Something as small and simple as a tennis ball can solve the problem. What you do is measure out the distance from the front windshield to the wall of the garage. Then set the tennis ball on a string to make it so that it touches the windshield when you reach the exact distance.

Melt Ice on the Windshield with Vinegar

Here’s another one for the winter months. Icy windshields are another issue on the list of car problems during the winter. If you’re someone who is usually in a rush to get to work in the mornings, and you don’t have time to run the heater in your car long enough to melt the ice, this is a solution that will get you on your way more quickly.

Scraping off the ice from a windshield
Source: 123rf / Laurentiu lordache

Mix a bit of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray the mixture all over the frozen windshield. After about a minute or so, you will see the ice dissolve and melt away. Wipe it all up, and you’re good to go! And you should keep the bottle in the car or trunk for easy access.

Take Your Kids’ Goo

You can either take the goo your kids have been playing with or just go to a toy store and buy some. It happens to be a very useful object when it comes to cleaning the interior of your car. It’s actually a lot better than any cloth you’re going to find in your home.

A person using yellow slime to remove dust from an air conditioning vent in a car
Source: Amazon

Nowadays, you can even find this gooey stuff in some auto shops. It helps remove dust from places that are tough to reach, like the AC vent or any detailed surfaces on the dashboard. And those places tend to fill up with dust very quickly. Later you can wash the gooey slime away, and you’re good to go!

Getting More Gas in the Tank

We all try to be as quick and efficient as we can when pumping gas at the station. It’s as if someone is chasing us out of the gas station. Well, first of all, let’s all relax. No one is chasing us. And second of all, be reminded that the gas station is no place to be hasty.

A woman filling up her gas tank
Source: 123rf / Gergely Zsolnai

So, what’s the hack? The hack is to be mindful when pumping gas: If you slow down and let the tank fill up at a slower rate, less air will get inside, and thus you will get more gas. Hold the gas pump at 50% rather than squeezing it all the way as you typically would.

Makeshift Cell Phone Holder

If you don’t have a cell phone holder in your car and you don’t want to buy a new one, this is a quick and useful way to make your own version of one. What you need is a tight rubber band that you’re going to slip through the AC vent. It creates a “holder” of sorts for your phone.

A person putting a rubber band around the air conditioning vent in a car
Source: Pinterest

Unlike store-bought devices that tend to fall, this makeshift version will keep your phone tightly in place. Sure, it’s not the most aesthetic thing. And it’s not a long-term solution, but it comes in handy in situations where you need the GPS on your phone, and you don’t want to be driving with it in your hand, that’s for sure!

Shoes aka Cup Holders

Don’t you wish there were more than just a few cup holders in the car? This hack may make some people laugh, but let me tell you – it’s an efficient hack! One object you can use as a makeshift cup holder is a shoe. While it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing hack on the list, it sure does the trick.

A can of Mountain Dew sitting inside of a pair of sneakers
Source: Pinterest

We all have a pair of shoes, or two, lying around at home that no one is wearing. So grab them and put them in the back seat and tell your kids that their extra-large cup of soda will fit perfectly in dad’s old tennis shoes.

Tinted Plastic Sheets for the Windshield

This is a hack that pilots apparently use that drivers could really benefit from. It involves covering parts of your car’s windshield with tinted plastic sheets. This helps anyone driving in direct sunlight without being blinded.

A man installing tinted plastic sheets on his car window
Source: 123rf / Bhakpong Rattanasaroj

Static from the windshield is the trick – it’s what helps the sheet stick to the glass. While visors are known for achieving the same goal, people have praised this hack for being just as effective, if not more. But make sure you apply it in a way that shows no air bubbles.

Keep Your Wipers Nice and Fresh

A guy named Jim Nobilone is an expert on car hacks. He provided the next trick to help people improve the clarity of their windshields in the long term. He said, “When you’re behind the wheel, nothing is more crucial than good visibility.” The man has a point.

A person cleaning off windshield wiper blades with a rag
Source: Facebook

Like most drivers, I usually procrastinate cleaning my windshield wipers or even replacing them if necessary. He recommends taking a white rag, applying glass cleaner, and wiping each wiper up and down. This will save you money and prolong the life of your wipers. Why buy new things when you don’t have to?

Make a Paper Towel Holder

It’s always useful to have paper towels around for spills in the car or for when you need to pop the lid and have a look at the engine. But where are we supposed to put them? Donald Bolad came up with a nifty little idea that serves as the next hack. What do you need to do?

A roll of paper towels attached to the inside of a trunk door
Source: Reddit

He explains: “Attach a roll of paper towels to the inside of your car trunk lid with a short bungee cord. The towels will be handy but won’t take up space or get wrecked, rolling around your trunk.”

I hope this list has given you some ideas for your car. I promise you after you try some of these, you’ll never look back!