15 Car Hacks Every Driver Should Know

Keeping your car clean and functional isn’t always easy. Here are fifteen car hacks that you can use to make taking care of your car a little bit easier:

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1. Park facing the sunrise. How often do you get up in the morning and realize, just as you’re leaving for work or school, that your windshield is iced over? You can prevent having to remember to go out early and turn your car on by actually parking towards the sunrise. That way, the rays of the sun will melt off the frost for you!

2. Use hand sanitizer to unfreeze your handles. If your door handles and locks are so frozen that you cannot even use them, pouring a little bit of hand sanitizer (as long as it contains alcohol) onto the door will melt the ice and allow you to get your key into the lock or to pull open the door itself.

3. Use your floor mats to get traction on icy ground. If your car is stuck in a parking spot because it cannot get traction on the frozen ground, you can actually use your floor mats to get a little traction. Wedge them under your front tires and reverse, very slowly and carefully, onto them in order to gain the traction you need to move your car.

4. Store some cat litter in your trunk. Not only will the weight of heavy duty cat litter help to prevent your car from sliding on icy roads, you can always sprinkle a little bit of litter around your tires if you are having trouble getting your car moving again on icy or snowy roads. This is an inexpensive and very useful hack for those living in cold climates!

5. Toothpaste can clean your headlights. Over the years, your headlights will begin to look cloudy and dull. This can make your lamps dim and ineffective. You can clean your headlights with plain old toothpaste, on a paper towel. Just spread it onto your lights, rub it around, and carefully clean it off. They’ll be clearer and brighter!

6. Use newspaper to get rid of stickers. Here in the east, many drivers have toll stickers or other adhesives on their windshields. These can be very difficult to scrape off, even with a razor blade. Instead of using a razor blade, use a piece of wet newspaper. Press it against the adhesive that you want to remove and let it sit for about ten minutes. It should wet the glue enough that you can just peel the adhesive and the glue away.

7. Use a razor blade to combat stubborn bugs. During the summer, windshields can become littered with dead bugs. These dead bugs might not easily wash away with wiper fluid or even with scrubbing. You can use a razor blade to actually scrape away the residue of these bugs. Follow up the blade with a damp cloth to remove any lingering goo.

8. Use a plunger to pop out small dents. We all get small dents on our cars from hitting our doors against poles or very minor run ins with other cars. These dents are enough to take the car to the body shop, but they can be annoying. You can actually use a clean plunger to pop out those dents!

9. Fingernail polish can touch up small scratches. If you can find a shade of fingernail polish that exactly matches the color of your car, you can actually use this polish to fill small scratches in your paint. Because small scratches can still cause serious damage to your car, including creating an inlet for rust and more paint chipping, filling it with nail polish can actually protect your car from further damage. Just make sure that the color is close enough to the color of your paint or it will probably do more harm than good.

10. Get rid of extra weight. If you are storing something heavy in your car or are simply driving around items that you haven’t taken out yet, it’s time to get them out of your vehicle. The more weight you drive around, the worse your gas mileage is going to be. So, while that box of cat litter might be great during the winter, come spring, it’s probably best to take it out and not to lug around the extra weight.

11. Put a candle in your car to dispel stink. A candle in your cup holder is a great way to refresh the smell of your car while you’re not in it. The max will melt and give off its scent when your car heats up in the sun. When you get back in and turn on the AC, it will solidify again.

12. Put a dryer sheet in your vent. Lots of car air fresheners can be overpowering. You can add some subtle freshness to your car by sticking a dryer sheet in your vent. It will make your car smell like a fresh load of laundry, without being to fragrant.

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13. Use your head to amplify the reach of your fob. If you’re wandering around a parking garage, trying to find your car, put your fob under your chin to amplify it’s reach.

14. Get rid of extra keychains and keys. A heavy keychain can put strain on your ignition, which is one of the most delicate components of any vehicle. Unburden it by getting rid of extra keychains and keys that are weighing it down.

15. Keep your change in an old mint container. Instead of just letting your change accumulate in a cup holder, hold on to an old mint container and fill it with your change, instead.

Common Mechanic Scams and How to Avoid Them

scamNot every mechanic is going to try to scam you. The horror stories that some people will tell about being shown an air filter that is completely disgusting and being advised to pay to replace it, only to watch the mechanic insert that same air filter back into the car are few and far between. That doesn’t mean, however, that this doesn’t happen. When you bring your car to our service bay, you can be sure to find great, honest, hard-working mechanics that will get your car back in working order, without charging you thousands of dollars to do it.

We know that sometimes it’s just not possible to bring your car into our service department and that you will sometimes have to take it to another mechanic, who might not have that same standard of integrity. If you want to be aware of some of the common scams so you can avoid them, here are eight to watch out for:

1. Do I really need new spark plugs? Thirty years ago, spark plugs really didn’t last that long and it was smart to have them replaced each time you went in for an oil change. Today, that’s really not necessary. Most cars should have an oil change every 5000 to 7000 miles (even up to 10,000, depending on your oil and what make and model you’ve purchased). For those that commute or live out in the country, that might be every six to twelve months. Most spark plugs have a life of 100,000 miles these days. Paying to have those sparkplugs replaced every time you have your oil changed is probably unnecessary.

2. The urge to opt for synthetic oil. If you’ve had your car’s oil changed at a Jiffy Lube recently, they’ve probably offered you a range of different oil choices, from regular, to synthetic, to blend, to even more expensive options. Regular oil is usually the cheapest, but most mechanics will recommend synthetic oil. It lasts longer—that’s true, and most car manufacturers do recommend it, but if you stick to your oil change schedule and get your car regularly maintained, there is really no reason to pay more for synthetic oil when regular oil will work just as well.

3. It’s time to change your air filters. Most cars today have their own systems that monitor their filters and let you know when it’s time for a change. Even if your car doesn’t have these diagnostic systems, it’s probably fairly obvious whether or not you need new filters when the mechanic shows them to you. Just make sure the filters they are showing you are actually your filters. Some unscrupulous mechanics will bring out a pair of disgusting filters, claiming that they’re yours and telling you that you need to pay to have them replaced, hoping that you will not know what your air filters look like or when your car is due for new filters. Get to know your filters, what they look like, and what your filter change schedule is.

4. Is it time for your transmission to be serviced? This is one of the reasons bringing your vehicle in to a dealership’s service department, rather than to a mechanic that isn’t familiar with your make and model. We will be able to tell if it really is time for your transmission to be serviced. Many mechanics will simply tell you that it is, without understanding your model or its history, and will charge for what is basically draining fluid that didn’t need to be drained and replacing it with new fluid that it didn’t really need.

5. Did you flush the cooling system? While your cooling system will occasionally need a flush, paying extra for this service when you don’t really need it can lead you to a more expensive visit to the mechanic than you were planning on making. Unless the coolant in your car is actually contaminated or is no longer working, there is really no need to flush the entire system and put in new coolant. You’ll be flushing money as your cooling system is flushed.

6. You need to recharge your air conditioning system. This is something that few of us have even heard of. Why would the air conditioning system need to be recharged? How does it lose charge? Unless you’ve noticed that your air conditioning is no longer as effective as it once was, there really is no reason to add more refrigerant. In some cases, this really is preventative maintenance, but often, there is no actually need to recharge your air conditioning system, especially if it is functioning just fine in your eyes.

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7. Have you replaced your brakes recently? You obviously want your brakes to be functioning perfectly when you press down on that pedal to use them. Some mechanics will use this desire to encourage you to replace your rotors or pads before they are actually worn down. You can easily check your own brakes to make sure they are still functioning properly and have the right thickness, so do this before you take your car in for maintenance. If the mechanic tells you that the brakes are worn down when you know they’re not, he’s probably just trying to get you to pay for a service you don’t need.

8.Does the mechanic ask you to buy a new tire when you bring in a flat? Most of the time, especially with simple punctures and tears, it’s possible to patch a tire. It’ll take about five minutes and costs you about fifteen dollars (if that). Some mechanics will tell you that instead of “limping along” with tire that’s been patched, you should just buy a new tire. If they can legitimately patch the tire for you, there’s no reason to buy a new one.

How to Maintain that New Car Smell – Tips for Taking Care of Your New Car

car maintenanceThere’s nothing better than that new car smell—it’s not something that can be replicated by any air fresheners or products. It’s the combination of the excitement of a new vehicle, mixed with new car materials and a fresh, clean car that hasn’t seen even a hundred miles of road yet. That new car smell is going to persist for a few months, if you’re diligent about cleaning your car—here are some tips to help you make that new car smell last as long as possible:

1. Don’t eat in your car. Nothing will kill the new car smell as quickly as the oniony scent of a fast food hamburger. If you’re looking to keep your car smelling fresh and new, don’t eat in your car. You can pick up food and take it home, but always let the smell of the food vent by leaving a window cracked. Otherwise, strong smells like onion and garlic can permeate the plastics in your car and leave your car smelling like that for the rest of its days.

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2. Vacuum it. Who vacuums a car? You do. You track dirt, stones, sand, and lots of other gross stuff into your car every time you get in, even if you think your shoes are clean. Every time you bring the environment into your car, your car will start to smell more like that environment than it will like a new car. You can prevent this by routinely vacuuming your car to remove all of that dirt and detritus that follows you inside.


3. Don’t leave trash in your car.
Old drink cups and soda cans, even if you think they’re empty, probably have a few dregs lingering. When you toss an “empty” can into the back seat, it can leak whatever is left onto the carpet or upholstery. Not only does this have the potential of leaving a stain, it also has the potential to make your car stink. Train yourself to take empty containers and cup with you when you leave the car, so they don’t just stink and fester in the vehicle.

4. Change your air filters. Over time, your car’s air filters will become covered in dust and gunk. This is their job, but this also means that your air conditioning or heating system can start to stink when you turn it on. To avoid this, routinely change your air filters. If changing your air filters doesn’t seem to solve the problem, you might have a more severe situation. Sometimes small rodents and animals will take up residence in your engine block and when they die, can put off some serious stink. If you’re smelling something foul and it’s not your air filters, it’s time to take your car in for a checkup.

5. Make sure nothing is leaking. Oil and coolant leaks (which will usually show up on your driveway) aren’t just bad for your vehicle, they are also bad for your new car smell. Both of these types of leaks can cause problems that can make your car have a funny smell as the leaked liquid burns off as you drive. Pay attention to how your car smells and if it is spotting where you park it.

6. Clean your plastic and leather surfaces. The oils and dirt and germs that people naturally have on their skin can be deposited on the surfaces of your Kia. While these won’t produce their own smell, they can break down the materials in your car and cause them to lose that “new” luster and scent. You can maintain these surfaces by buying a product made specifically for cleaning the dashboard and/or leather in a car and use it routinely to remove oils and grime and to maintain the shine and vitality of those products.

7. Clean the inside of your windows. While this tip won’t necessarily make your car hold on to that new car smell, it is an important part of owning a new car. In the first couple of months (or years), the materials in your car are likely to “outgas.” This means that they will give off fumes, some of which can create a film on the inside of your windows. If you’ve ever tried to drive facing the sun and in the glint of the light, your windows are nearly opaque, it’s probably because of this film, which will return, even if you’ve cleaned it off before. Routinely clean the inside of your windows when you have a new car to avoid this problem.

8. Clean your headlights. Nothing can reveal the age of a car faster than its headlights. Dingy, filmy, and clouded headlights don’t just make your car look old, it also makes it more difficult to see properly on a dark night. Clean your headlights with a headlamp product. You may need something abrasive if the clouding is extensive. If there is condensation on the interior of the headlight, you should bring your car into our shop to see if there is a leak or if the fitting is secure.

9. Replace your windshield wipers. Your windshield wipers are going to be one of the first things to need replacing in your vehicle. In general, they will only last a year before the rubber starts to break down and becomes far less effective when it comes to wicking away snow and rain.

10. Regularly wax the car’s exterior. Wax is like sunscreen for your car—it protects the paint from the sun, from scratches, from environmental damage, and more. If you love how water just beads and rolls off of your new car, you can maintain that effect by regularly waxing your vehicle’s exterior.