Top Car Hacks From Maintenance to Parking for Enjoyable & Safe Rides

Updated: May 23, 2024

Whether you’re gearing up for a road trip or just want to make your daily commute better, these car hacks will improve your drive.

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Viper SmartStart
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Invest in a Remote Car Starter

Viper’s SmartStart is the top of the line in remote car starters. Use your smartphone to control your car while you’re in a restaurant, at home or in a store. You can start your car remotely through the app, locate your car, see how fast the car is going with someone else behind the wheel, receive alerts if the vehicle has been moved without your knowledge and more.

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Trademark Global Car Swivel Tray
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Make Car Meals Less Messy

Eating in your car can be dangerous, messy and sad, especially if you’re alone. But if you insist on doing it, at least make it as safe as possible. This adjustable, non-slip car swivel tray holds food and drinks, and even has a slot for your phone. Take your office lunch to your own little paradise for an hour.

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Park Zone Precision Parking Aid
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Perfect Your Parking with a Precision Aid

If you’re constantly getting out of your car only to find you’ve botched your parking job, consider this parking aid. It’s especially useful for parking in smaller garages, because it ensures you pull up far enough without tapping your front bumper.

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HH clean windshield wipers with windex
Family Handyman

Clean Your Windshield Wiper Blades

When you’re behind the wheel, nothing is more crucial than good visibility. But like most other drivers, you may procrastinate cleaning your windshield wipers or even replacing them if necessary. Windshield wipers are notorious for drying out and cracking in a short time. To help prolong their life and clean them, soak a clean white rag with your favorite glass cleaner. Wipe the rag up and down the length of your wiper blades. You’ll see the results on the rag, and you’ll see out your windshield much better in the rain. While you’re at it, stop your windshield wiper blades from screeching.

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HH Salt Bags In Car trunk
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Increase Your Car’s Weight on Icy Roads

When there’s snow and ice on the roads and there’s a lack of traction to get up hills, or you fishtail going around curves, it’s a sign you could use more weight. Adding water softener salt bags in the trunk of your rear-wheel drive vehicle increases the weight on the backside of your car. This helps with traction on ice and snow during the nightmarish winter driving season.

Note: This tip does not hold true for front-wheel drive vehicles, although stashing some emergency salt in the back of your car will help with urgent icy situations.

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HH cereal container car trash can
Family Handyman

Get a “Carbage”

Keeping your car clean can be difficult. You’re dealing with dirt roads, messy trees, pet hair, food crumbs and wrappers, and there may be trash on the floor, under the seats and in the seat cracks. Fix that by tossing out any wrappers, bottles and other objects in the sturdy car trash can, like this one available on Amazon that has nearly 35,000 ratings. Line a plastic cereal container with a grocery bag and use it for in-car trash. To keep the container upright, apply a strip of self-adhesive hook and loop fastener to the bottom of the container. That way it’ll stick to the carpet. Keep your car looking brand-new with these detailing tips you can do yourself.

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Garmin Dash Cam 55
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Get a Dash Cam

A dash cam is a smart investment to provide a video record of a wreck, hit-and-run or theft. Place the compact Garmin Dash Cam 57 discreetly onto the inner windshield, providing high-quality video. It even lets you sync footage to your phone!

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Make Your Own Car Air Freshener
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Make Your Own Car Air Freshener

Freshen your car with scented candle wax. Punch holes in the lid of a Mason jar with a hammer and a large nail, add wax to the jar and replace the lid. for a DIY car air freshener. Add wax to the jar and replace the lid. When the temperature in your car rises, the wax will melt, filling the interior with a lovely fragrance. Voilà! A DIY car air freshener.

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Instant paper towel holder bungee cord
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Keep Paper Towels Within Arm’s Reach

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.

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Plug-In Seat Warmer
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Add a Plug-In Seat Warmer

Just because your car isn’t fancy enough to have built-in seat warmers doesn’t mean you can’t have a warm seat. Purchase an after-market seat cover to thaw out and keep you warm as you drive. Psst! If your car seats are looking shabby ad you need replacement seat covers, here’s how to install them.

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HH DIY car mat from carpet scraps
Family Handyman

Try Your Hand at DIY Car Mats

Here’s a simple way to keep your car clean: Cut scraps of old carpet to fit on the floor as mats. When the scraps inevitably get dirty with mushy winter snow or summer sand, give them a wash, or toss them out and make more.

A word of caution: Do NOT put these DIY mats on the driver’s side unless you attach grippers to the bottom to ensure they don’t slip forward while driving.

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pipe insulation between car seat and console
Family Handyman

Use Pipe Insulation to Prevent Lost Items

Ever drop your keys or phone in the gap between the driver’s seat and the console? It’s tough to retrieve those items, so prevent it altogether. Cut pieces of foam pipe insulation to the length of the gaps, then wedged them in the gaps on either side of the console.

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vacuuming leaves from sunroof
Family Handyman

Fix That Leaky Sunroof

If raindrops keep falling on your head, it’s probably because your sunroof drains are clogged. That’s something you can fix yourself in just a few minutes. Open the sunroof and look for drain holes in the front and rear corners. Use a vacuum with a thin attachment to suck out the debris.

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Comsoon Bluetooth Receiver
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Get Better Sound Quality

Comsoon’s Bluetooth Aux Adapter is a top-notch choice for streaming crystal-clear music from your device. It also features a built-in mic for hands-free calling. This is a smart way to make an older model car feel up to date.

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ice proof windshield with alcohol
Family Handyman

Ice-Proof Your Windshield

Heavy frost warnings tonight? Fill a spray bottle with three parts vinegar and one part water. Right before it gets dark, shake the mixture well and spray it evenly on your car windows. The acetic acid in the vinegar will prevent water from freezing on your windows overnight. While you’re preparing, make sure your car survival kit is up to date.

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Horizontal view of car cleaning at self wash service outdoors. Handsome African man in casual wear washing red car with sponge and foam
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Achieve a Factory-Like Shine

You can rejuvenate your car’s finish yourself and get it pretty darn close to the factory shine, but it takes more than a simple wax job. The process starts with a good wash, followed by scratch repair, polishing and a protective wax finish. A pro would charge upward of $200 for this, but after a one-time $200 investment for a polisher and supplies, you’ll make your whole fleet look like new.

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Family Handyman

Clear Up Cloudy Headlights

Clear your fogged or yellowed headlight lenses in 45 minutes without breaking the bank. It beats spending hundreds for someone else to do it, and results in safer driving.

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Pyle Car Backup Camera
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Upgrade Your Ride with a Backup Camera

Many new cars feature cameras and detectors to protect your vehicle and others. But if yours doesn’t have any, add the Pyle Car Backup Camera to your ride. It comes with a camera you place on the back of the car and a 7-inch screen mounted to the dashboard, ensuring you get into your parking space perfectly.

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Closeup Of Hand holding pressure gauge for car tyre
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Check Tire Pressure Every Month

All tires lose air, so check your tires monthly. Always use the same tire pressure gauge and check it first thing in the morning, not after you’ve driven awhile or the car’s been sitting in the hot sun.

Inflate to the pressures listed on the carmaker’s decal (on the driver’s door or jamb), not the maximum pressure listed on the tire. The recommended tire pressure is based on the weight of your particular vehicle, not the tire brand or tread style. This will help your tires last.

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Using a car scan code reader for repair diagnostic and check engine test
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Use a Code Reader

Diagnose car problems without going to a mechanic with an auto code reader. Simply plug it into the car’s computer system, then interpret the trouble code readout.

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EcoNour Car Windshield Snow and Ice Cover
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Try a Windshield Snow and Ice Cover

Not in the mood to brush snow or scrape ice off your windshield? This cover from EcoNour lets you just pull off the cover and shake off the snow and ice. It couldn’t be easy!

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