13 Hacks Every Car Owner Should Know

Your car is an extension of your home, but how often do you treat it with the same TLC you give your house? Keep your wheels in good condition with these simple-but-genius car hacks that will make life on the road a little easier, and a lot more comfortable.

  1. Use a Cereal Container as a Trash Can

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    Cereal box garbage

    istockphoto.com

    A plastic cereal container is just small enough to make the perfect trash can for your car. The flip-top opening ensures that whatever you throw away doesn’t end up all over the floor after you make a sharp turn. Just line the container with a plastic grocery bag, and you’re ready to go—and throw—whenever you like.


    Related: 11 Cheap Cures for a Cluttered Kitchen

  2. Gauge Your Garage Parking with a Tennis Ball

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    Tennis ball garage

    instructables.com

    If you have trouble gauging how far you’ve pulled into your garage, use a string to hang a tennis ball on the ceiling so that it rests on your windshield when you’ve driven in far enough. You’ll never have to guess again.


    Related: 12 Ideas to Steal from the Most Organized Garages

  3. Download a Parking App to Find Your Car

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    Parking app

    istockphoto.com

    Now where did you park that car? Oh boy, here we go again! Forgetful parkers rejoice: There are apps to help you instantly locate your ride so you don't have to waste time strolling through the parking lot with your key fob in hand. There are several apps to choose from, all of which will keep track of where you’ve parked your car and lead you back to it without fail. Just like breadcrumbs, but better.


    Related: 50 Great Gadgets for a Smarter Home

  4. Keep Cup Holders Clean with Cupcake Liners

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    Cupcake liners car

    onegoodthingbyjillee.com

    Dust, crumbs, and all sorts of stickiness can accumulate in a car cup holder, which is perhaps the most notoriously difficult to clean corner of any car. Luckily, there's a trick that can keep your cup holder clean without the hassle. Simply drop a paper cupcake liner into the bottom of the cup holder. When it gets dirty, just replace it with a fresh one.


    Related: The Top 10 Grimiest Spots in Your Home, According to Science

  5. De-Ice a Frozen Lock with Hand Sanitizer

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    Frozen lock

    istockphoto.com

    Perhaps you already keep hand sanitizer in the car for those times when you need a quick cleanup on the go. Well, here's a new use for that handy cleaner: If your lock has frozen shut, squeeze a little hand sanitizer onto your key before sliding it into the lock. The alcohol in the cleaner will melt the ice, letting the key turn easily.


    Related: The Gear You Need to Fight the Worst of Winter

  6. Warm Up Your Windshield Wipers

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    Socks prevent frozen windshield wipers

    thekrazycouponlady.com

    Never again waste precious time (and risk arriving late to work) trying to pry icy wipers from the windshield. Go on the defensive with a pair of socks. Keep a pair in your car during the winter, and when it looks like foul weather's coming, put them over your windshield wipers at night to keep them from freezing and sticking.


    Related: The 8 Best Tools for Conquering Snow and Ice

  7. Hang Hooks to Keep the Floor Clear

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    Hooks for car

    istockphoto.com

    We could all use a little extra storage space in the car. Here's a low-budget trick: Put a carabiner on the headrest supports of the front seats so you can hang your bags, umbrellas, and other whatnots. Now, all your essentials will be out of the way yet within easy reach.


    Related: The Best Organizers to Buy for Under $5, $15, and $25

  8. Use Tinted Window Clings as Movable Shades

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    Car window tinting

    istockphoto.com

    Every driver knows there’s that weird time of day when the sun shines in through the windshield at just the right angle so that car visors can't swing or tilt far enough to block the blinding rays. Stop squinting and place a piece of tinted window cling in just the right spot to shield your eyes from the sun. This trick really works—after all, it's what airline pilots do.


    Related: 21 Home Hacks That Are Crazy Enough to Work

  9. De-Fog Your Headlights with Toothpaste

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    Polishing headlights

    istockphoto.com

    As headlights get older, the plastic covers oxidize, which causes them to become yellow and foggy. Restore them to their former glory by rubbing some toothpaste (one with baking soda works especially well) onto the headlights, then give them a good scrub with an old toothbrush. After the toothpaste has dried, spritz with some water and buff the paste off with paper towels. 


    Related: 21 Money-Saving Tricks That Every Homeowner Needs to Know

  10. Give Your Tires the Penny Test

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    Tire penny trick

    istockphoto.com

    Do you think it may be time to replace your tires? To find out, take a penny, and place it headfirst into the tread groove. If you can see the entirety of Lincoln’s head, your tires are too worn and need to be replaced. If part of his head is covered, you have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread depth left and can wait on new tires.


    Related: 21 Brilliant Hacks for Everyday Home Repairs

  11. Remove Sticker Residue with Newspaper

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    Cleaning car windshield

    istockphoto.com

    Whether you're dealing with a parking permit or a bumper sticker, when it’s time to peel it off, the sticker leaves behind a gummy mess. The next time you're facing down a sticky spot, place a piece of wet newspaper on top of the residue and let it sit for about 15 minutes. When you come back, the glue will have softened up and will be much easier to wipe away.


    Related: 10 Things You Didn't Know Super Glue Can Do

  12. Protect the Doors with Pool Noodles

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    Pool noodles bumper

    istockphoto.com

    In a tiny garage, trying to park the car without causing damage can seem like an exercise in futility. Even if you do manage to pull in without bumping your fender, you have to worry about scratching your car doors when you open them to exit the vehicle. You can park without a care, though,  if you cut a pool noodle in half and screw it to the wall. The soft bumper will protect your doors from dings—provided you can squeeze the car into the garage in the first place.


    Related: The 15 Smartest and Smallest DIYs You Can Do for Your Home

  13. Keep Rubber Resilient

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    Wd40 triggerpro car hack

    amazon.com

    When the weatherstripping around your car doors starts to fail, so does its protection against the elements. Fortunately, you can put off replacing seals by lubricating with WD-40 once a month to counteract the drying and cracking that happens in extreme temperatures. Plus, the new nozzle on the Trigger Pro® bottle applies the time-tested formula directly where you need it without the typical aerosol overspray, making this one auto job that won't create a mess.


    RELATED: 9 Unusual Ways to Use WD-40

  14. Cruise Control

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    13 hacks every car owner should know

    bobvila.com

    You don’t have to be a car mechanic to keep your automobile in top-shape. These hacks will help you maintain your car and let you know when it is time to take it in for a tune-up.

  15. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!