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In a perfect world, cars would never break down and you wouldn’t need car maintenance.
In an almost-perfect world, your car only breaks when you are near a trustworthy garage and have sufficient funds to take care of the problem. But this world isn’t perfect, and cars do fail. They also stop working in inconvenient places and at really bad times.
You might stuck in the boondocks or in a totally unfamiliar city. Or maybe you just can’t stretch your credit card or checking account any more right now. This situation calls for a hack: a quick fix that will last long enough to get you out of your predicament.
Junk Car Medics offers this list of 26 auto repair hacks & do-it-yourself tricks that can help you out in a tight spot. Who knows? You get good enough at these, you might start doing them just for fun.
26 DIY Auto Repair Hacks
- Got a busted pipe? You might be able to connect the surviving pieces with an empty Pringles can and some duct tape.
- Cut a leg from a pair of panty hose to replace a broken fan belt.
- Twist a strip of duct tape several times, fasten the ends together, and you’ve got a temporary belt.
- A certain bodily fluid that is easily attainable and not harmful to drain out of you has been used to fill up a leaking radiator.
- If your headlights seem dim, try cleaning them with toothpaste. Put the paste on a clean cloth and spread the cleaner over the headlight cover. Rub it thoroughly; then rinse the toothpaste off. (Spitting is optional.)
- Repair a crack in a headlight or taillight casing with clear or red tape; whichever is appropriate. This is for emergency only, because it might interfere with how the beam of light appears.
- To help prevent windows from fogging up, fill a sock with kitty litter, and leave it in your car.
- If you have fogged up windows but no cat, spread shaving cream on the inside of your windows and wipe it off.
- If you can’t face scraping ice off your windshield, fill a spray bottle with two parts vinegar and one part water. Spray the solution onto the windshield and let it take care of the ice. Warning: keep the solution off your car’s paint, or you might lose that, as well.
- In an emergency, you can use a credit card to scrape ice off your windows.
- If you’re tired of having your windshield wipers frozen to the glass when you come out on frigid mornings, raise the wipers up at night and tuck them –-all cozy — into socks.
- If you have a small crack in your windshield and want to keep it from spreading before it’s repaired, brush clear nail polish over it.
- Got a registration or bumper sticker you want to remove? Cover it with a wet sheet of newspaper for at least 10 minutes. When the sticker is thoroughly soaked, it peels off easily.
- Frozen door lock? Squeeze hand sanitizer into it. The alcohol in the cleaner helps clear the lock.
- Doors frozen, too? Prevent this from happening again by spraying the door edges with cooking spray. Wipe off the excess.
- Are your tires a little too worn to be facing that sudden slippery snowfall? Lower your tires’ pressure a bit, and you’ll get better traction.
- Uh-oh…did you get stuck in the snow? Lay pieces of cardboard down and drive over them for extra traction. Your car’s floor mats will serve the same purpose in a pinch.
- If you have a dent and are game to try to remove it yourself, you’ll need a hair dryer and an air duster (like you’d use to clean a computer keyboard). Using the hair dryer, heat the dent for 30 to 60 seconds. Then, holding the air duster upside down, spray the dent for 10 seconds. Many dents soon pop out.
- Another dent fixer: a common plunger. Seal the plunger over the spot in question, and pull up.
- If you continually have trouble estimating how far to pull into your garage (before you hit something), attach a tennis ball to a string. Suspend the ball from the ceiling at exactly the spot you want your front windshield to be when you are properly parked.
- If your garage is a tight fit, prevent dings in your door using pool noodles split lengthwise. Attach them where the car doors intersect the garage walls.
Bits and Pieces
- If you need to replace a gasket, or need to insert one to temporarily make a seal, cut one out of an orange juice or milk carton.
- Got a small scratch? If you can run your fingers over it and the scratch feels smooth, buff it with plain old car wax.
- Nail polish can stand in for car touch-up paint when the scratch is a little more serious. Polish comes in a myriad of colors.
- Fuel leak? Chew some gum. No, really. On the outside of the tank, cover the leaking spot with the wad. Be sure to dry the area first, or the gum won’t stick. This fix won’t last long, but it could get you where you can find some help.
- This tip might not save you money, but it’ll save you time, and, well, you know what they say… If you are in a huge or unfamiliar parking lot, use your phone to take some photos of your car and distinguishing surroundings, such as lampposts, buildings, or grocery cart corrals. You’ll never wander aimlessly around a parking lot again.