12 Automotive Handy Hints
Working on a vehicle can be intimidating for non-mechanic types, but some tasks are very easy to do yourself. The following 13 handy hints will help you complete automotive maintenance and small fixes with ease.
Chalk Marker Under Hood
Keep track of when you last changed the oil, air filter, sparkplug, etc., by jotting it down under your car’s hood. Use a chalk marker to make notes on a flat surface, such as an air filter cover, so you never forget important maintenance tasks.
Use Sawdust to Soak Up Spills
Pick up used oil spills on the driveway or in the garage using sawdust. The material is readily available in most home workshops—just open up the dust-collection bags on your orbital sander, miter saw, etc. Pour sawdust over the spill, let it soak up the liquid for about 20 minutes, and then sweep it up. the bench outdoors.
Best Way to Clean a Car: Brush Out the Air Vents
These louvers are a real magnet for dust, and a vacuum with a brush attachment just won’t get it all. Take an inexpensive artist’s paintbrush and give it a light shot of furniture polish. Work the brush into the crevices to collect the dust. Wipe the brush off with a rag and move on to the next one.
Truck Bed Reach Stick
Keep an extension handle with a paint roller on the end in your truck bed for easy loading and unloading. You won’t have to climb in and out, saving you time and saving your back!
Pipe Insulation Car Hack
Reader James Goldstein came up with a genius solution for preventing items such as keys or cell phones from falling between the seats and the console in a vehicle, which can be hard to retrieve and even dangerous if it happens while driving. He wedged pieces of foam pipe insulation in the gaps!
Cardboard Drop Cloth
Save large pieces of cardboard from boxes that you bring into your home. Store them along a wall in your garage or workshop so they’re at the ready when you’re working on a messy project such as refinishing furniture or changing the oil in your car. A large slab of cardboard makes a perfect disposable drop cloth.
Lubricate Window Tracks
Freezing water can seep into the window tracks and create drag when you try to open the window. That drag can damage the window regulator cables, costing you almost $300. You can avoid the problem entirely by lubricating the window tracks with spray silicone or dry teflon spray lubricant. Lower the window and shoot the spray right into the front and back window track. Apply enough lube so it drips all the way down the track. Then operate the window through several open and close cycles to spread the lube along the entire track. Use glass cleaner and a paper towel to remove any spray that lands on the glass. Want more in-depth advice? Plus: Learn how to fix a leaking sunroof here.
Save your back by storing your air compressor on a mechanic’s creeper, so you can easily tote it around your workshop or garage. Depending on the size of your compressor, you may be able to store your hose on the creeper, too.
Fix Tears in Leather Seats
A leather/vinyl repair kit is inexpensive, and the repair takes only an hour. But don’t expect perfection. You’ll still see the tear, and you probably won’t get a perfect color match. However, this fix will contain the tear and look better than a gaping hole. Here’s how to repair minor leather tears.
Saltwater for your Car
Running late and you don’t have a windshield scraper in the car? So try a saltwater mix. Road salt mixed with some water will remove the thin layer of ice when the temperature dips below 32 degrees F. And then use your wipers to push the slush away. Since salt isn’t great for your car, use this method sparingly.
Photo: Tim Trott/Shutterstock
Hands-Free Light Hack
Make a hands-free light in a snap with a flashlight, a pair of pliers and a rubber band. Place the flashlight in the jaws of the pliers; then wrap a rubber band around the handles of the pliers. That’s it! Point the light wherever you need it.
Spray Silicone Lubricant on Wiper Blades
Eliminate screechy windshield wiper blades by first wiping them down with soap and water; then apply a coat of spray silicone lubricant to the rubber blades. The silicone will keep the blades working smoothly (and quietly) during winter driving.