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18 Car Hacks That’ll Make Driving So Much Better

Whether you’re gearing up for a road trip or just want to make your daily commute less of a chore, these car hacks will instantly improve your driving experience.

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HH clean windshield wipers with windexPhoto: Family Handyman

See out of your windshield better

“When you’re behind the wheel, nothing is more crucial than good visibility. But like most other drivers, I usually procrastinate cleaning my 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 favourite 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.” —Jim Nobilione

Find out how to defrost your windshield in less than one minute.

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HH cereal container car trash canPhoto: Family Handyman

Keep your car clean, for good!

Keeping your car clean can be difficult. There are dirt roads, messy trees, pet hair, food crumbs and wrappers. And there’s likely trash on the car’s floor, under the seats and in the seat cracks. Toss out any wrappers, bottles and other objects in the sturdy car trash can! Line a plastic cereal container with a grocery bag and use it as an in-car trash can. To keep the container upright, apply a strip of self-adhesive hook and loop fastener to the bottom of the container, so it’ll stick to your car’s carpet.

Don’t miss these DIY car wash tricks and tips.

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cool techPhoto: Garmin

Cool tech: Garmin Dash Cam 55

A dash cam is a great investment to provide you with a video record of a wreck, hit-and-run or theft. The Garmin Dash Cam 55 has a compact design and is placed discreetly onto the inner windshield, providing high-quality video. It even lets you sync footage to your phone!

Here’s what you should do within 10 minutes of having a car accident.

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Make Your Own Car Air FreshenerPhoto: Family Handyman

Make your own car air freshener

Freshen your car with scented candle wax. Punch holes in the lid of a mason jar using a hammer and a large nail 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 your car with a lovely fragrance.

Find out the scary truth behind that new car smell.

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ParkingPhoto: Measurement Limited

Cool tech: Park Zone PZ-1600 Precision Parking Aid

If you constantly get 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 helps to make sure you pull up far enough without tapping your front bumper. The traffic signal display on the gadget alerts you when you’ve pulled up far enough.

Learn the difference between all-wheel and four-wheel drive.

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HH Salt Bags In Car trunkPhoto: Family Handyman

Helpful hint for winter driving

When there’s snow and ice on the roads and you’re finding that you don’t have enough traction to get up hills or you fishtail going around curves, it’s a sign that you could use more weight. Adding water softener salt bags in the trunk of your rear-wheel-drive vehicle will add weight to the backside of your car. This helps with traction on ice and snow during the nightmarish winter driving season. However, please note that this tip does not hold true for front-wheel-drive vehicles, although having some emergency salt in the back of your car will help with urgent icy situations.

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Seat warmerPhoto:

Buy a plug-in seat warmer

Just because your car isn’t fancy enough to have built-in seat warmers (along with not having heat!), doesn’t mean you can’t have a warm seat. Purchase an after-market seat cover to help thaw out and warm up you and your car while you drive.

Restore your ride with these car cleaning accessories.

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HH DIY car mat from carpet scrapsPhoto: Family Handyman

DIY car mats

One simple way to keep your car clean is to cut scraps of old carpet to fit on the floor as mats. And when the DIY carpet scraps inevitably get all dirty with mushy winter snow or summer sand, you could either give them a wash or toss them out and make more. A word of caution: do not put these DIY car mats on the driver’s side of the car unless grippers are attached on the bottom side to ensure that the mat does not slip forward while driving.

Drivers make hilarious confessions about how clean their cars are.

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pipe insulation between car seat and consolePhoto: Family Handyman

Pipe insulation to prevent losing stuff

I kept dropping things such as my keys or cell phone in the gap between the driver’s seat and the console in my car. It is tough to retrieve the items dropped in that space because the gap is so small and my hand doesn’t fit. I usually ended up reaching for a stick or wire hanger to pull the items out, which is not very convenient. Recently, I found this solution: I cut pieces of foam pipe insulation to the length of the gaps, and then I wedged them in the gaps on either side of the console. Nothing falls into the gaps anymore! —James Goldstein

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Fixing leaky sunroofPhoto: 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 of your sunroof.

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Bluetooth adapterPhoto:

Cool tech: Mpow Bluetooth Receiver

Mpow’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 great way to make an older model car feel up to date.

Keep these tips in mind before you consider selling your car.

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ice proof windshield with alcoholPhoto: 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 outside, 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. —Kevin Sullivan

Consider trying these clever car tricks for winter!

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Car swivel trayPhoto: Trademark Global

Cool tech: Trademark Global Car Swivel Tray

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 car swivel tray is also great for pit stops and passengers. It’s height-adjustable and features a non-slip surface. It even doubles as a useful storage tray.

Check out these creative ways to stay warm in a car that has no heat.

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Man washing his vanPhoto: Family Handyman

Don’t just polish—rejuvenate

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 be able to make your whole fleet look like new. Your first attempt will take a whole day.

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Cloudy headlightsPhoto: Family Handyman

Clear up cloudy headlights

Clear your fogged or yellowed headlight lenses in 45 minutes for less than $15, rather than spending $100s to replace them.

Find out the secret to cleaning headlights.

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Cool tech: Pyle Car Backup Camera

Many new cars have cameras and detectors to protect your car, as well as other cars, but if yours doesn’t have this feature, add the Pyle Car Backup Camera to your ride. It comes with a camera you place on the car’s back and a seven-inch screen you can mount to the dashboard, ensuring you get into your parking space perfectly.

Learn all the ways you’re shortening the life of your car.

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Woman checking air pressurePhoto: Family Handyman

Check tire pressure every month

All tires lose air, so check your tires monthly. Always use the same tire pressure gauge and check the air pressure first thing in the morning, not after you’ve driven on them or they’ve 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.

We guarantee you didn’t know you had these weird car features.

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Car code readerPhoto: Family Handyman

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.

Next, check out these vintage cars you’ll wish you could drive today.

Originally Published on The Family Handyman