Join AAA
Join AAA

Drive Speed Limit

5 Car Hacks if You’re Always on the Road 

If you’ve owned a car for a while, you probably know the basics of big-picture car care: don’t skip your oil change, don’t ignore the little symbols that light up on the dashboard, and make sure to get your tires rotated regularly. But what about the less obvious tips? These may be small details, but for people who spend a lot of time in the car, they can make a big difference.

1.   Make your own car freshener

If you don’t want your car to smell musty but you also can’t stand the intense and artificial scent of those popular pine tree-shaped air fresheners, listen up. Put the ends of your favorite scented candle in a mason jar with a few holes punched in the lid, and keep the contraption in your cup holder. When the temperatures rise on hot days (or you crank the heat to “high”), the wax in the jar will soften and melt, and the fragrance will fill the car. When things cool down at night, the wax will resolidify, preventing any mess.

An even quicker way to keep your car fresh is to tuck a dryer sheet or two under the front seats or in the seatback pockets. It might be worth it to keep an entire box of dryer sheets in the trunk or glove box so you can replace yours when they lose their scent.

2.   Keep a bag of kitty litter in the trunk

Yes, even if you don’t have a cat. Cat litter can help your car get unstuck in a number of unpleasant situations—particularly when your wheels are caught in mud or snow. That’s because it’s designed to absorb liquid and harden, so it can help dry up slippery snow, slick mud, or a washed-out road. What’s more, laying down cat litter in front of your tires if you’re in a pinch can provide them with the traction they need to get up and out of the mire.

3.   It’s always a good idea to have hand sanitizer

It’s smart to keep hand sanitizer in your backpack or purse for encounters with sticky door handles and to kill germs after a trip to a sketchy gas station bathroom, but did you know it can also come in handy if your car’s locks freeze? Pouring hand sanitizer on a frozen lock can melt the ice that’s preventing your entry—this is thanks to its high alcohol content. (Of course, if you leave the hand sanitizer on the back seat, it can’t help you.)

4.   It pays to stick to the speed limit

Speeding is never a good idea—speed limits are there for a reason, and breaking them can cause dangerous situations for not just you but those around you. And it turns out that sticking to the speed limit can save more than just your neck: Cars that maintain a reasonable speed of 55 MPH use up to 30% less fuel than their counterparts traveling at 70 MPH. With today’s ever-fluctuating gas prices, these savings can really add up.

5.   Cleaning your headlights with toothpaste: fact, not fiction

When your headlights are cloudy and dim, they’re not just less aesthetically pleasing, they’re also less effective—and that means you’re not as safe as you could be. While it may sound like an old wive’s tale, using toothpaste on your foggy headlights can actually help restore them to a more ideal clarity and brightness. That’s because most toothpastes contain low levels of hydrogen peroxide and other chemicals that can break apart the dirt and grime that cause headlights to look dingy. Simply squeeze some toothpaste onto a rag or paper towel and buff your dirty headlights. Then rinse with plain water and admire your work!