by Thor Jensen |

1. Don’t Look At Your Car In The Mirrors

What we consider time-honored wisdom in driving isn’t necessarily true. Most of us think that the proper position of our side mirrors is angled to display the flank of our car and the road behind it. However, safety experts now believe that’s not correct, and mirrors should be positioned so that no part of your car appears in them. That’s the best way to negate blind spots that require you to turn your head when changing lanes. The mirror placements should slightly overlap with the field of view in the center-mounted rear-view mirror. It might take some getting used to, but it can make a huge difference in terms of safety.

2. Cool A Hot Car In Under A Minute

There are few feelings less pleasant than stepping into a hot car on a summer day. When a car is parked in the sun with doors and windows closed, it can get as hot as an oven in there, causing sweaty seats and burned fingers. There’s actually a quick and simple way to cool down a blazing car in under a minute. First roll down one of the windows all the way, then walk to the other side of the car and open and close the door five to ten times. This creates a circulating air flow that forces the trapped hot air out of the vehicle and can actually drop the inside temperature as much as ten degrees.

3. Hypermile

Fuel efficiency is one of the easiest ways to save money while you drive, and there’s a whole subculture of people dedicated to wringing the most juice out of every drop of gasoline. It’s called “hypermiling,” and it’s a set of behavioral changes to keep your car moving as efficiently as possible. Some of the tips include leaving ample space between your car and the car in front of you so you can coast to a stop instead of hit the brakes and accelerate slowly and gradually over a greater distance to use less fuel than flooring it.

4. Keep Your Keychain Lightweight

This is something that you might find hard to believe, but it’s actually been proven true. If you want to avoid problems with your car’s ignition system, don’t put too many keys on your keychain. The inside of a traditional keyed ignition is remarkably fragile, and when too much weight is put onto the key inside, it’s pulled downwards by gravity and can wear out the ignition switch. This can be extremely bad – the switch doesn’t just start the car, it also maintains the electrical circuit, so if it fails while you’re driving your whole car can shut off. Keep your car key on its own chain.

5. Make Sonic Distance Sensors For Parking

Parking – especially parallel parking – is one of the banes of a new driver. Current model cars are starting to come loaded with a variety of tools to make it easier, including small cameras and distance detectors, but you can hack together something just as good in a few hours. The Ping sonic range finder is an affordable little gadget that uses sound waves to locate objects. With a simple connection to an Arduino board and a buzzer, it can be used to create an alarm that goes off when the rear of your car is too close to something.

6. Hack A DIY Gadget Charger

Most of us have some kind of USB charger in our car to keep our phones topped off on the go, but what do you do if you lose it under the seat and desperately need to charge up? It’s actually remarkably simple to modify a standard 5-volt car cigarette lighter adapter to power a USB cord by stripping the wires of an existing USB cord. The two that provide power are the red and black wires, so by splicing those with the car adapter you’ll be able to feed any USB device with exactly the correct amount of power without endangering your data.

7. Add An MP3 Jack To Your Stereo

While many newer cars come standard with auxiliary input ports that you can feed your iPod’s audio signal through, older models aren’t quite so lucky. Sure, there are aftermarket solutions to play through the tape player or on a low-power broadcast frequency, but why not break out the soldering iron and do it right? It’s remarkably easy to pull the stereo out and wire in an auxiliary input, although it will probably void your warranty.

8. Remove Car Dents With Dry Ice

A trip to the body shop to hammer out dings can leave your wallet significantly lighter, but there are actually a few DIY methods for getting rid of minor body damage that work well. One of the most interesting is using dry ice to pull out the dent. Make sure to wear gloves, as holding dry ice can cause damage to your skin. Wash the surface of the dent first, then apply the dry ice to the area of the dent to rapidly cool the panel. Remove, let it rest for a few minutes and repeat until the dent is gone.

9. Use Cooking Spray To Keep Your Doors From Freezing Shut

If you live in a place with harsh winters, you’ve no doubt experienced the frustration of trying to force a frozen door open. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution that uses the magic of chemistry. Using ordinary cooking spray, coat all of the rubber gaskets on the inside of your door and then gently wipe with a paper towel. Doors freeze close because water settles in these gaskets and then hardens, so a quick coating of lipids will make their seal tighter and prevent any moisture from getting in.

10. Build Your Own Car Tracking System

There are plenty of commercial solutions for finding a stolen car using GPS technology, but thieves can often detect and disable them. The advantage to building your own is that you can make the housing look like anything you want. Using an Arduino Uno board and other supplies that can be bought for under $100, you can construct a GPS transmitter that runs off of the car’s battery. If your car goes missing, you send a text message to the unit containing a pre-set password. If the password matches, it replies with the GPS coordinates of your car.
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