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The Ultimate Guide to Lifestyle Hacking your Car
11th January 2016
There are lots of articles out there about how to lifestyle hack your car, but not one main guide that puts everything together. We have compiled the ultimate guide to making driving your car more enjoyable and easy, so you get the most out of it.
Increase the range of your car’s key fob by holding it against your head
Amazingly you can increase the range of your car key fob by holding it against your head when opening your car. Your head then becomes an antenna because the fluid inside your skull helps to amplify the radio waves. Try this if you can’t find your car in a car park after dark and you’ll easily find it when the lights flash as it opens.
Stop yourself from banging your car against your garage wall by hanging a tennis ball
Hang a tennis ball from your garage ceiling to improve the accuracy of your parking. Position the hanging tennis ball so that when your car is parked properly in your garage it sits right in the middle of your windscreen. This video explains how it works.
Clean dirty headlights with toothpaste
A great hack for dirty headlights is to use toothpaste to clean them properly. All you will need is the toothpaste, some water, and cloths for cleaning the headlights. It will take a bit of scrubbing, but it works really well and will save you from buying an expensive cleaner that you don’t really need.
De-ice a car lock with hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer contains alcohol which should be able to melt the ice. Put some of the sanitizer on the key and then insert that into the lock as far as it will go. The idea is to get as much of the sanitizer into the lock as possible to start to melt the ice on the inside of it.
No drinks holder? Use a roll of duct tape
If you don’t have a cup holder in your car or all available ones are being used, just place a roll of duct tape on the seat next to you (providing no-one is sitting there obviously) and put your drink inside it.
Use the tape to stick the holder to the seat so it doesn’t move when you’re driving.
Another tip is to use a shoe that is secured by tape to the floor of the car. Just place the drink inside the shoe and tie it up. Please do this carefully, we can’t be held responsible for drink spillages if you don’t do this properly and be very careful if you do it with hot drinks.
Put new lights into the interior of your car so you can find things in the dark
You don’t have to rely on the manufacturer’s standard lights inside your car. You can add your own LED lights to help you find things in your car or just to give the car a new look. In the UK you won’t be able to use these lights whilst you are driving, just use them when you’re parked.
Use a cereal container for your rubbish
Cereal containers work really well as a bin in a car because they hold a lot and can be sealed shut, which keeps them airtight and helps stop any smells from leaking out. It’s best not to buy a transparent one as you won’t want to be looking at the rubbish inside it, so if you can’t find a coloured one just cover it with paper, preferably black to help it blend in with the interior.
Use the sun to defrost your windscreen
In the winter, parking your car with the windscreen facing to the east will give the sun more chance of melting the ice.
Disguise your automatic as a manual
Some people just can’t face being seen to be driving an automatic car. You can fit manual gear trim over the automatic shift gate. The added benefit is that it puts off car thieves and gives you time to get back to your car before the thief works out what’s going on.
Attach your phone to your dashboard using a binder clip and elastic band
Sometimes you just want to be able to see your phone as you are driving. You might not have a good phone mount or a decent place to put it on your dash board so why not fix it on to one of the heaters in your car with a binder clip, tape and elastic band. This article from Lifehacker explains how to do it.
Use a petrol prices app to find the cheapest fuel prices where you are
Don’t be caught out by paying over the odds for fuel. There are apps that let you find the cheapest prices for fuel in your area. This one does just that.
Get a dashboard pad
Dashboard pads are a great way to have easy access to your phone and small items that can be difficult to keep hold of in a car. The pad sticks to your dashboard easily and depending on the size can hold a phone, loose change, keys and anything small enough to fit on to it.
Use Siri to start your car
This one isn’t as simple as the others and requires some technical expertise but it had to be in here. It is actually possible to start your car by speaking to your phone. If you have an iPhone, developers have managed to create a way to start your car using Siri.
Unlock your car with your shoelace
If you have a car with an upper lock mechanism, this little trick could help you out if you manage to lock yourself out of your car. You have to tie a loop in the shoelace, and push it between the lock and the car. You then need to use the lace to get a grip of the lock and lift it up. This video explains how it works.
Remove car dents with dry ice
You firstly need to use a hair dryer to heat the area where the dent is. Warm the area for around 2 minutes, but be careful not to hold the hair dryer too close and don’t have it at a high heat setting. To be on the safe side and to protect the paintwork you can place a piece of aluminium foil over the area you are heating.
Then take the ice and place it on top of the aluminium foil over the dent. Because the dent has been heated up and then cooled down by the ice, it should then come out. It might not work first time so a couple of attempts should work.
Use your phone to photograph where you park
This is one of the simplest tips, but it could save you a lot of time. If you’ve ever been to a large car park and forgotten where you have parked your car you will know how annoying it is. If you use your phone to take a photograph of where you parked when you first park there, you will never have that problem.
Take a photo of the area where you are parked, most large car parks have numbered or lettered areas. For anywhere else take a picture of something memorable.
Use a staple remover on key rings
If you don’t have long fingernails or your key ring is difficult to get keys on and off, use a staple remover to open it. The staple remover can easily open the rings, saving your fingernails time.
Carry cat litter with you
It seems a bit strange to carry cat litter with you everywhere but it could save you if you’re ever stuck on an icy road. If you lay the cat litter around the car’s tyres the material in the litter which is generally made of a silica based substance will give the tyres something to grip on to, giving you more traction.
A cassette adaptor can be used as a Bluetooth adaptor for your phone
If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth you can make an ingenious adaptor with a cassette adaptor. This is technical but it’s not overly difficult to do, even if you aren’t technically minded.
This video explains how to do it.
Make a smartphone holder from your car’s ashtray
If you don’t smoke, your ash tray can be pretty redundant. This doesn’t have to be the case if you use your ash tray as a smartphone holder.
This tip comes from Jalopnik and you can actually make it look very good. You can hook it up to your stereo and keep it charged whilst it is docked in place. If you do a good job of it, the ash tray can look like it was built to hold your smartphone.
For small dents use the suction power of a plunger
If you have very small dents in your car, try using a plunger on them to even them out. The power of the suction on the plunger can be enough to pop out a dent that is relatively small. This is one of the quickest and most effective tips, because if it works it costs you no money and the paintwork can look like it’s back to normal.
This might not work every time because each dent is different and the body work is different around your car. It can be trial and error but if you are careful it is definitely worth a try.
Use a razor blade to clean your windscreen
Be very careful when using this tip but one of the best ways to get difficult dirt off your windscreen is to use a razor blade. It will get stubborn dirt off quite easily that a normal wash might have not been able to remove.
It’s often easy to carry one of these around with you, rather than having water and screen cleaner to hand.
Hypermile to get the most out of your car’s fuel consumption
There are different techniques to get more out of your car in terms of fuel efficiency, which when used together can save you a lot of money when it comes to filling up. This is called Hypermiling.
Wisebread lists how to Hypermile, the methods are:
Record your cars mileage: If you know how many miles your car does on a tank of petrol, each time you fill up you will get to understand the rate at which your car uses fuel. You will then be able to gauge how well you are doing with your attempts at reducing how much fuel you use.
Be conscious of how you drive: Hypermiling is about making the most of the momentum of your car. Leave a gap between you and the car in front so that when you come to a stop you aren’t fully applying the brakes and the car can slowly come to a stop itself and allows you to gradually move off again.
Try not to let your car stand still with the engine running: If you leave your car with the engine running in traffic you are using fuel. The process of starting and stopping a lot in traffic burns fuel. Try to learn to minimise this as much as possible by coasting to a stop and if possible, accelerating away gently without having stopped fully. This takes practice and discipline, but it can be learned.
Accelerate gently: Moving away from a stop gently you will use less fuel. Accelerating harshly from a complete stop burns more fuel than you need to.
Store things on the interior of your roof
Instead of having a roof rack on the outside of your car, you can attach a bungee net to the top of the inside of your roof to carry extra belongings. This works well for clothes and items that aren’t bulky because anything heavy would just hang down and obscure the view of the driver.
You can buy various sized nets that can fit into different areas of your car if you have any extra space. Cars aren’t always designed in the best way to carry extra items so you often have to make your own storage space.
Use a GPS
Using a GPS might seem obvious, but until some people actually try using one, they will still rely on old fashioned maps and road signs. It’s always a good idea to have a map as a backup, but a GPS can prove invaluable.
They aren’t very expensive and it will be a worthwhile investment because getting to your destination quickly and easily will save fuel.
Use your seat warmers to keep takeaway food warm
If you’ve picked up a pizza, Chinese, Indian or any other takeaway and are on your own, turn on the seat warmer on the passenger seat and put the takeaway on it. This will help to keep the food warm whilst you drive home.
Check the arrow on the fuel gauge which tells you which side to fill up on
If you are driving a car you don’t know and realise that you haven’t checked which side to fill the car up on, you will see a little arrow on the petrol gauge that tells you which side to fill up on. The image below shows you that you fill your car up on the left hand side.
Take pictures of a rental car before you drive it
One of the risks of driving a rental car is that you are responsible for paying for any damage the rental company finds when you return the car. If the company try to charge you for damage to the car that you know you didn’t cause, this can be frustrating to say the least. Take pictures of the car when you pick it up so you have evidence of the condition the car was in when you picked it up.
Stop windows from steaming up by using half a potato
You might look a bit strange, but if you rub a potato that has been cut in half against car windows you will prevent them from steaming up. It cleans the windows and leaves a protective layer that stops the windows from forming condensation.
Make sure the potato is clean before you start, and cut it in half. Then simply rub it over the inside of the window and that will do the trick.
Shaving cream also does the same job, you just need to spray it on the inside of your windows and then wipe it off.
Use newspaper and warm water to take a stubborn sticker off your car
Dampen a piece of newspaper or a paper towel with warm water and place over a car sticker that you can’t remove. Leave it for 15 minutes or more, which should loosen the sticker and make it easier to peel off.
Stop your car doors from freezing shut
If you live in a very cold area or are visiting somewhere cold your car doors might be at risk of freezing shut. The best way to deal with this is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Spray cooking oil along the seals of the doors and then wipe them down. This should prevent the doors from freezing shut when you leave the car.
Lift up your windscreen wipers at night to stop them from freezing
If you live in a really cold area, lift up your windscreen wipers at night and they won’t stick to your windscreen.
Fill a sock with cat litter and leave it in your car overnight
A sock that is filled with cat litter and left inside your car will absorb the moisture inside the car and help prevent your windows from steaming up.
Wrap tape around your hand to quickly and easily clean dust from hard to reach areas in your car
With the sticky side facing out, wrap some tape around your hand and collect dust on the tape. It works well for areas that you can’t reach with cloths or dusters.
Clean the windows with vinegar and washing up liquid
To give your car windows a very good clean, mix together some white vinegar, washing up liquid and hot water. Take some scrunched up newspaper and use this to wash the windows with the solution, and they should come up sparkling.
Get a car parking app
There are plenty of apps out there that help you with parking. The AA parking app helps you find a car park near you, and it covers all free and paid car parks in the UK. Ideal if you are visiting a new place and have no idea where the nearest car park is.
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