As most car owners know, owning a car, truck, RV or other vehicle comes with certain challenges and responsibilities, much like home ownership. However, there are countless ingenious car hacks that people have come up with over the years that can make life easier for vehicle owners.
In this post, we’re looking at 35 car tips and tricks that offer some good ideas and creative solutions to common issues. From maintenance to organization to safety hacks, these tips can save you time, money, and resources.
35 Car Hacks for Your Car, Truck, or RV
- 1.1) Extend Your Key Fob’s Range to Help You Locate Your Car
- 1.2) Remote Lock Confirmation
- 1.3) No-Freeze Windshield Wiper Trick
- 1.4) Use Socks on Your Windshield Wipers in Winter
- 1.5) Tennis Ball Garage Parking Aid (One of Our Very Favorite Car Hacks!)
- 1.6) Bungee Paper Towel Holder
- 1.7) Parking Spot Location Helpers
- 1.8) Cheap Car Air Freshener
- 1.9) Clear a Foggy Windshield With Rice
- 1.10) DIY Cupholder Liners
- 1.11) Carabiner Key Organizer
- 1.12) Remove Bumper Stickers with WD-40
- 1.13) Use Heat to Remove Sticky Residue
- 1.14) Use Seat Warmers for Food
- 1.15) DIY Floor Mats
- 1.16) Headlight Restoration Trick
- 1.17) Remove Bugs with Dryer Sheets
- 1.18) Vinegar Windshield De-Icer
- 1.19) Towel Seat Covers
- 1.20) Emergency Car Kit
- 1.21) Shoe Organizer for Storage Tip
- 1.22) Use a Sun Visor Caddy
- 1.23) Park Facing North
- 1.24) Plunger Dent Removal Hack
- 1.25) Prevent Side Mirrors from Icing
- 1.26) Hand Sanitizer on Frozen Locks
- 1.27) Remove Sap With Hand Sanitizer
- 1.28) Use a Coin (US Penny) to Check Tire Tread (a Tried & True Car Hack!)
- 1.29) Sponge for Spills
- 1.30) Car Sickness Prevention
- 1.31) Sunshade Windshield Protector
- 1.32) Use Cereal Containers
- 1.33) Emergency Escape Tool
- 1.34) Car-Specific Apps
- 1.35) Check Engine Light Diagnosis
- 2) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews & Giveaways
35 Car Hacks for Your Car, Truck, or RV
The following tips and tricks come from a wide variety of sources and are intended to make life a little easier for vehicle owners. As a disclaimer of sorts, we’ll say up front we haven’t tried all of these car hacks ourselves. We’ve used some of them, and have learned some new RV & car hacks in our research for this article (we always keep learning). There are some we’ll likely never try, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great ideas for others!
Extend Your Key Fob’s Range to Help You Locate Your Car
We’re going to start off with one of our very favorite car hacks that sounds downright silly… even absurd… as if it’s being shared as a practical joke. But we’ve used it ourselves countless times on many vehicles, so we know for a fact that it actually works.
If you want to lock or unlock your vehicle and it’s out of range of your keyfob, place it under your chin and try again. No, seriously — holding the key fob under your chin increases its range, enabling it to work from much further away.
That’s right… you can use your own head to act as a signal booster/amplifier. So next time you’re wandering a large parking lot looking for where you parked your car, give this a try. If you press the alarm button on your car’s remote control while holding it up under your chin, you’ll be amazed at how far away you can make your car’s horn honk and lights flash to help you find it.
And yes, there’s science to back up this claim!
Remote Lock Confirmation
The same principle in Tip #1 holds true if you don’t hear your car’s lock confirmation beep. Next time you walk away from your car in a parking lot, then ask yourself “Did I remember to lock the car?” try holding the remote under your chin while pressing the lock button again. We can’t count the number of times this has saved us from walking all the way back to the car.
No-Freeze Windshield Wiper Trick
Coat your windshield wipers with rubbing alcohol during the winter months to prevent them from freezing or smearing your windshield. Simply pour rubbing alcohol onto a sponge, rag, or old sock and wipe down the wiper blades of your car, truck, or RV.
This not only helps to keep the blades from sticking to the windshield but also prevents them from freezing. But it will require regular re-application.
Use Socks on Your Windshield Wipers in Winter
While we’re talking about windshield wipers and freezing, try covering them with a long pair of socks overnight or during a winter storm to keep the wiper blades from freezing and sticking to the windshield.
Tennis Ball Garage Parking Aid (One of Our Very Favorite Car Hacks!)
This is another of our very favorite car hacks. To help you park your car, truck, or RV perfectly every time without hitting the back wall or items that are stored in your garage, hang a tennis ball from your garage ceiling and note its placement when parking.
This can work especially well for backing into a garage. Measure appropriately so that when the tennis ball touches your rear window, you know it’s time to stop backing.
We became heroes to both of our moms when we hung a tennis ball on a string from the ceiling of each of their garages. They simply pull their cars in until the ball just touches the windshield and stop!
That allowed them to park in exactly the same spot. Every. Single. Time. No more bumping into the far wall of the garage or hoping the rear of the car clears the garage door when it closes.
Bungee Paper Towel Holder
A roll of paper towels comes in handy in any vehicle. To organize a spot to hold your paper towels instead of just tossing them on the floor or a seat, use a bungee cord to attach them to an area of your interior or trunk.
Parking Spot Location Helpers
This is a bit of an old trick, but it works. If you’ve got a car, truck, or RV with an external radio antenna, poke a small hole in one side of a tennis ball and stick it on top of the antenna for assistance in locating your vehicle in a parking lot.
Alternatively, you can take a photo of the parking marker nearest where you park to remind yourself of where your vehicle is located. You can also drop a pin at your parking spot using Google Maps or whatever mapping app you prefer. Of course, either of these methods requires you to be proactive before leaving your parked vehicle.
And of course, you can still fall back onto Tip #1 above, as long as you’re reasonably close to your car. (The head-key-fob trick only extends the range so far. It’s not unlimited.)
Cheap Car Air Freshener
For an inexpensive way to freshen up the scent in your car, truck, or RV, attach your favorite scented dryer sheet to your car’s air vent using a clothespin or binder clip. In summer especially, this will give your car a nice fresh scent as your air conditioning runs.
Alternatively, you can also put just a few drops of your favorite essential oil on your car’s cabin air filter.
Clear a Foggy Windshield With Rice
When condensation builds up on the windshield of your vehicle, toss a sock filled with dry, uncooked rice on the dashboard to absorb the moisture. When the sock/rice becomes moist (from absorbing the windshield moisture), simply toss it in your microwave for a couple of minutes to dry it out to use again.
DIY Cupholder Liners
Place silicone or disposable cupcake liners in your vehicle cupholders to catch spills, crumbs, dirt, dust, and debris, making cleanup a breeze. Silicone cupcake liners can be washed and reused. Disposable liners can be tossed, but they don’t catch liquid drips as well.
Carabiner Key Organizer
Keeping your keys organized by attaching them to a carabiner is a worthwhile car hack to improve your ability to keep track of all sorts of keys. This makes them easier to find, easy to attach to a belt loop, and less likely to get lost.
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Remove Bumper Stickers with WD-40
We don’t put bumper stickers on our vehicles’ paint (we prefer using the rear window, which makes it easy to safely remove with a razor blade scraper). But if you’ve got a bumper sticker you’d like to remove from a painted surface, spray WD-40 on the sticker to make it easier to peel off without leaving a sticky residue. (For more great WD-40 hacks, see our post on WD-40 uses on cars.)
- WD-40 combo pack is ideal to keep a variety of sizes where you will need it most
- WD-40 3oz. is a CONVENIENT SIZE: Perfect on-the-go; fits in a tool belt, tool box, backpack, or kitchen drawer
Use Heat to Remove Sticky Residue
If you’ve tried Tip #12 and you’ve still got some sticky residue left behind from a bumper sticker or any other adhesive, try using a blow dryer or heat gun to carefully apply heat to the area. NOTE: A heat gun is not the same as a blow dryer for hair. Heat guns get much hotter, so go slow, stay back, and be careful not to overheat or burn the surface of your vehicle (or anything else).
Use Seat Warmers for Food
Bringing a pizza or some other hot take-out food home for dinner? Turn the passenger seat heater to the highest temperature and set the container of hot food on the seat to help keep it warm as you travel. Since heated seats are only available in motor vehicles, this trick absolutely qualifies as a car hack.
DIY Floor Mats
Use old carpet remnants to create DIY custom-fit, inexpensive car mats. Just be sure that you fit them in such a way that the driver’s side mat won’t interfere with the brake or accelerator pedals… or the clutch if you hate driving a slushbox. (Other than our two motorhomes, I (Peter) have never owned any vehicle with an automatic transmission in my entire life.)
Headlight Restoration Trick
Use toothpaste to clean foggy headlights, restoring their brightness. We’ve done this one ourselves and it works. Don’t believe us? Check out the video!
Remove Bugs with Dryer Sheets
Some say you can wipe away stubborn bug splatters with a wet dryer sheet. We’ve got lots more ideas in our post on the best bug removers for cars (including some first-hand testimonials on the effectiveness of using dryer sheets for bug removal from some of you)!
Vinegar Windshield De-Icer
Mix vinegar and water (3:1 ratio) and spray it on your windshield to prevent frost buildup. This solution will work on your other car windows, too, of course.
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Towel Seat Covers
Use beach towels as temporary seat covers to protect your car seats from dirt, sweat, and spills. This is an especially good idea after a trip to a sandy beach or a day of sweaty hiking in the mountains. Keeping a couple of old bath towels in the trunk of the car for those dirty days is a great idea.
Emergency Car Kit
Create an emergency car kit with essential items for road trips like a tire pressure gauge, flashlight, first aid supplies, and non-perishable snacks. Check out our 25 must-have items to assemble your own RV roadside emergency kit.
Shoe Organizer for Storage Tip
Hang a shoe organizer on the back of your car seats to keep essential items organized and within reach. You can cut them to fit nicely on the back of each seat. (For RVs, here are some terrific RV storage ideas.)
- 24 roomy clear pockets hanging shoe organizer
- Hangs on standard door or closet rod, no hardware needed
Use a Sun Visor Caddy
Use a sun visor caddy to hold various items like cash, gum, sunglasses, masks, etc., keeping them out of the way and your car clutter-free.
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Park Facing North
On hot, sunny days, another tip is to park your vehicle facing north whenever possible to prevent the dashboard from cracking due to UV/sun damage. Of course, you can also try to park in shaded areas, or face East if it’s already late in the day. The point is to try to minimize the effects of direct sunlight on your vehicle.
When it comes to facing a certain direction to better control the effects of direct sunlight, the following video explains why we’ve long chosen to park our RV facing east when we’re boondocking.
Plunger Dent Removal Hack
Use a plunger to remove minor dents from your car’s body. It might be obvious, but the best kind of plunger to use for this hack is not the accordion type but rather the old-fashioned type of plunger:
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- This small plunger fits easily in limited spaces.
Prevent Side Mirrors from Icing
Cover your side view mirrors with plastic grocery bags to prevent ice from building up on the mirror during the winter.
Hand Sanitizer on Frozen Locks
In areas where freezing temperatures occur, your door handles and locks can freeze up, preventing you from unlocking and/or opening the door. If you’ve got some hand sanitizer handy, squirt some into the lock or the door handle to try to unfreeze them.
Remove Sap With Hand Sanitizer
Here’s another unconventional use for hand sanitizer – as a tree sap remover. If you’ve got some sap that has dripped onto your car, truck, or RV, you can use a bit of hand sanitizer on a cloth, cotton swab, or paper towel to dissolve it.
Be sure to use water to wash the area once you’ve removed the sap, and note that hand sanitizer will remove wax. So use as little as possible to remove the sap and follow it up with a good rinse and re-wax.
Use a Coin (US Penny) to Check Tire Tread (a Tried & True Car Hack!)
If your tire tread is starting to look like it’s getting close to worn out, grab a US penny. Stick the top edge of the coin into the tread (aiming Honest Abe headfirst down into the tread). If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
This works because the distance from the top of Lincoln’s head to the edge of the penny is 2/32″ which is the absolute minimum tread depth you should be running. Of course, you can replace a tire before it gets to the point where you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, which we think is a good idea.
Sponge for Spills
Keep a small sponge in your cup holder to quickly absorb spills. You can also cut a sponge to custom fit in your cup holder.
Car Sickness Prevention
If you’re prone to motion sickness, try peppermints with real peppermint oil or ginger candies to alleviate symptoms.
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Sunshade Windshield Protector
This one might go without saying, but we’ll mention it anyway. Use a sunshade to keep your car cooler in the summer and to prevent the dashboard from fading and cracking. Be sure to order a sunshade that fits your specific vehicle’s windshield.
We use one from the same company that makes our awesome tire covers: Covercraft. (Clicking the link below to SnapRing TireSavers will take you to the Covercraft website, where you can find a windshield sunshade for your car in the “Car & Truck” section.)
TireSavers make protecting your tires a "SNAP". The exclusive spring-steel ring design holds the TireSavers in place and eliminates the hassle of crawling around on the ground to secure straps...Show More
TireSavers make protecting your tires a "SNAP". The exclusive spring-steel ring design holds the TireSavers in place and eliminates the hassle of crawling around on the ground to secure straps, bungee cords, and/or other hardware.
Now, you can save 10% by ordering direct from Covercraft's website when you use the Promo Code "RVGEEKS"
TireSavers come in a range of sizes (from 19" up to 42") designed to provide snug, complete protection for your RV's tires, whatever size they are.Show Less
Use Cereal Containers
Use empty plastic cereal containers as car trash bins to keep your car clutter-free. Line with a plastic bag and then simply toss the bag when it’s full. (Depending on the size of the cereal container you choose, pet waste bags can work very well as liners.)
- Modular food storage containers ideal for cereal, pasta, dog food, and other dry items
- Stackable, space-saving design takes up less space in your pantry, on your countertop, or in your cabinets
Emergency Escape Tool
Keep an emergency escape tool in your glove compartment to break windows and cut seatbelts in case of a serious crash. Make sure you know how to use it before you have an emergency!
- SAFETY HAMMER: Dual-headed safety hammer made with hardened Tungsten Steel to break car windows
- SEAT BELT CUTTER: Strong grip and sharp blade for easily cutting through a seat belt
Use car-specific apps to track maintenance and fuel efficiency, and to find the cheapest gas stations. To start, see our post on five of the best apps to find cheap gas.
Check Engine Light Diagnosis
You can use an OBD-II scanner to diagnose the cause of your check engine light. OBD-II scanners should work on vehicles manufactured after 1996. Some vehicles also provide diagnosis codes on the dash. You’d need to research your particular vehicle to see if this is available and how to obtain it.
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We hope there’s a car hack or two in here that’ll make your traveling life easier!
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