While everyone around you is hyper-focused on doing things bigger, better, and bolder in the new year, why not commit to doing things smarter — at least when it comes to your car? Enter the life hack: a simple, straightforward shortcut to tackling everyday activities in a more efficient, effective way. You probably already punctuate your regular routine with life hacks (tip: keep an ice tray full of coffee cubes in your freezer and your iced lattes will never taste watered down again), but did you know there are tons of ways to improve your life behind the wheel? Car hacks can save you time and money, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorite for the new year.
You spend a fair amount of time in your car, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to keep it in top shape. Here are 10 ingenious car hacks to rev up your life in 2018:
1. Clean dirty headlights with toothpaste. Skip the pricey car wash and scrub down dingy lights with an old toothbrush. Let the suds sit for a bit, then rinse the foam away with clean water. You’ll have shiny, bright lights to lead you through the night — no overpriced wash required.
2. Spot-treat dings with nail polish. There’s nothing worse than finding a sizeable scratch on a pristine paint job. But there’s no reason to shell out cash for a touch-up. Simply grab a similar shade of nail polish at your local drug store and camouflage the issue.
3. Use a toilet plunger to remove dents. Seriously! This may not fix major damage, but if you have a small dent in one of the door panels, the suction of the plunger might be enough to pull things back into place.
4. Keep your food warm in the passenger seat. You may not think of your vehicle as a hot plate, but why not maximize its uses? The next time you pick up a pizza, turn on your seat warmers to keep the contents toasty.
5. Cool down without blasting the A/C. If you’re trying to conserve gas, the last thing you want to do is run the air conditioning nonstop. If it’s sweltering inside your car, try rolling down one window and opening and closing the opposite side door a few times. You’ll let the heat out and fan in cooler air — for free.
6. Hold your key fob to your chin to find your car. Okay, if this one sounds like you’re being punk’d, bear with us: it turns out that holding the metal key part of the fob against your chin while pressing the remote button turns your fluid-filled head into an antenna. You’ll gain a few more feet of signal range to reach your car door.
7. Defrost your windshield with kitchen ingredients. Mix up a solution that’s two parts vinegar, one part water and spray it on your icy windshield. You’ll defrost the glass; no scraping required.
8. And use hand sanitizer for keyholes. Carry a tiny bottle of alcohol-heavy hand sanitizer to instantly melt icy door locks.
9. Use a tennis ball for perfect parking. If you can never quite seem to intuitively guide your car into the right spot in your garage, try hanging a tennis ball from the ceiling. Fix the string so the ball sits lightly in middle of your windshield when you’re perfectly aligned, and use the ball as a parking guide each time.
10. Tidy up with a cereal container. If you spend a decent amount of time behind the wheel, trash can pile up. Rather than letting food wrappers line your floors, invest in a plastic cereal container that you can store on the passenger side so you can store scraps in one (easily emptied) receptacle.
At Metromile, we’re all about car hacks to simplify and streamline your life. That’s why we created our smart driving app to optimize your trips, help you stay on top of your car’s health, and even give you street sweeping alerts in select cities. What other car hacks have you used that have worked? Share below in the comments! Not a Metromile customer yet? Get a free quote now!
Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.