10 Genius Car Hacks Every Driver Should Know

These tips can keep your vehicle smoothly traveling down the highway.
Updated April 11, 2024
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smiling african american man driving car while wearing seatbelt during day time

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Many of us don’t think much about our vehicles, but we probably should. Your car gives you the freedom to do everything from getting to work on time to exploring the world around you.

Just using a few simple hacks can improve your driving experience and help you stop wasting money repairing your car.

Following are 10 genius car hacks every driver should know.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive discounts and financial resources

Over 50? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member you could be missing out on huge perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on things like travel, meal deliveries, eyeglasses, prescriptions that aren’t covered by insurance and more.

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Become an AARP member now

Carry jumper cables and kitty litter in your trunk

chartphoto/Adobe man charging battery car with electricity trough jumper cables

Don’t leave home without jumper cables and kitty litter in your trunk. It’s easy to see the importance of jumper cables: You might need them if your car battery needs a quick charge. But why does kitty litter matter?

Kitty litter’s grit can help you get out of any slippery situation, whether that's by pouring it on a patch of ice or a pile of snow. As a bonus, it’s also great for cleaning up spills if your car happens to leak oil on your friend’s driveway.

Pro tip: Cars are expensive to buy and maintain. But you can save on auto insurance by comparing quotes and choosing the insurer with the right policy at the best price.

Don’t let your car sit in the cold weather to warm up

New Africa/Adobe modern car parked outdoors on rainy day with hail

A cold morning feels even worse when you climb into a car that hasn’t warmed up. However, as tempting as it might be to start your vehicle and let it get toasty, it’s not a good idea.

There’s no benefit to warming up your engine. Today’s car models are fully lubricated and ready to drive within 30 seconds. The car also will warm up faster if you drive it as opposed to letting it idle.

Finally, letting the car idle wastes gas and adds harmful emissions to the environment.

Keep a notebook of your car’s maintenance history

memorystockphoto/Adobe car repair station with soft-focus and over light

Keep track of your vehicle’s maintenance history in a small notebook in the glove compartment. You can also use a digital version if you prefer.

Follow the owner’s manual for your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, such as how often to change the oil. Write down details of all work you have done, including the replacement of parts, replacing tires, and any repairs.

When you decide to sell the car, you’ll have a solid record of the great work you put into it. That could boost your car’s value on the market.

Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt

Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.

National Debt Relief could help you resolve your credit card debt with an affordable plan that works for you. Just tell them your situation, then find out your debt relief options.1

How to get National Debt Relief to help you resolve your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can assist you in settling your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.

Try it

Read the owner’s manual

Sergey Ryzhov/Adobe woman reading owner's manual of car

The owner’s manual offers some great tips for getting the most out of your car. It includes your car’s recommended maintenance schedule and provides insight into many aspects of how the car works.

If your vehicle has any fancy features, the owner’s manual should explain how they work.

Do as much work on the car as you can

Looker_Studio/Adobe man checking car engine at home

If you’re not handy or don’t want to waste time, a local repair technician is the way to go when your car needs work.

However, consider powering through a few YouTube videos to learn how to replace the air filter, check the oil, and change the spark plugs. Chances are good that doing these things yourself will save you money.

You should be able to find the parts you need for these small fixes readily available online or at an auto parts store. And you'll pay a fraction of what the dealership is likely to charge you.

Those savings don’t even include the labor costs you'll avoid simply by doing the work yourself.

Use a tennis ball when parking in your garage

Karen Arehart/Adobe tennis ball on the court

Determining how far to pull into your garage when parking can be difficult. But there is a simple trick to make this task easier.

Pull your car into the garage and park it just where you want it. Then, take a tennis ball, attach a rope to it, and hang it from a rafter in your garage. Make sure you attach the rope at the spot where the tennis ball just barely touches your windshield.

In the future, you'll know to stop your car when you pull into the garage and the ball makes contact with the windshield.

Use an app to find a parking spot

VAKSMANV/Adobe girl using smartphone app to pay for the parking

Whether you’re on your way to a show or just going to work, finding a parking spot at the last minute can be challenging, particularly in busy areas.

Fortunately, there are many phone apps that help you locate available parking spots within your target area. You can compare prices, and some apps even allow you to reserve a parking spot in advance.

De-ice a frozen lock with hand sanitizer

Mikael Damkier/Adobe unlocking a car door on a cold frozen winter morning

On a cold day, rain or snow might cause your lock to freeze up. But there is an easy fix if you don’t have a lock de-icer.

Putting a small amount of sanitizer on your key before sliding it into the lock should do the trick. The alcohol in the sanitizer works to de-ice the lock.

Pro tip: Save more money by comparing auto insurance quotes and choosing the insurer with the right policy at the best price.

Use cupcake liners to catch crumbs

Elenathewise/Adobe cupcake baking cups

It’s easy to pledge never to bring food into your newly cleaned car, but it’s hard to keep that promise when you need to eat on the run. As a result, it can feel downright impossible to keep cup holders clean.

Here’s an easy fix: Place a cupcake liner in each of the cup holders in your car. The liners catch all of the debris that builds up over time and are super easy to remove and toss.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!2

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Buy a dash cam so you have a record of your trips

escapejaja/Adobe CCTV car camera for safety on the road accident

A dash cam is an excellent investment for most drivers because it allows you to record what’s happening while you’re driving.

If another car darts out in front of you or backs out while you’re driving by, you’ll capture this on camera. That can help boost your claim if you need to file one later. Choose a Wi-Fi-enabled option for the easiest solution.

Bottom line

pikselstock/Adobe woman driving a car and smiling

Each of these tips can improve your driving experience or help you save money and keep more cash in your bank account.

DIY hacks like those mentioned on this list lower your costs. And when you need the help of others, shopping around can get you the best deal. Use these tips to extend your vehicle’s lifespan as you keep your wallet full.

  • You could save up to $500 with some companies
  • Compare dozens of providers in under 5 minutes
  • Fast, free and easy way to shop for insurance
  • Quickly find the perfect rate for you

Author Details

Sandy Baker Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.

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