My Top 18 Best Car hacks
7 Car hacks to start a dead car
If you turn the key and the starter just clicks try these car hacks: The possibilities are: a weak battery, dirty battery terminals, a worn starter motor or a stuck start solenoid.
Try cycling the key several times. First, turn on the dome light. Then turn the key to the START position while you watch the dome light. If the dome light goes out or dims significantly, that’s a sign of an almost dead battery. You’ll have to get your car’s charging system tested to find out whether you have a bad battery or whether the problem is in your charging system. In the meantime, here’s the car hack to get you started one last time. You want to heat up the battery to speed up the chemical reaction. You also want to heat up the battery terminals and posts to get them to expand slightly and make better contact. Turn the key to START, then OFF several times. Let the battery rest for about three minutes, then repeat. If the car hack is going to work, it should start up after the rest period. If it doesn’t, move on to the next car hack.
Tap on the battery terminals with the heel of your shoe. All you’re trying to do here is get better terminal-to-post contact. Jarring the terminal can sometimes accomplish that. But don’t overdo it or you can damage the battery posts. Try starting the engine. If it starts, that’s proof you’ve got some battery corrosion. Get the battery tested. If it tests good, get a battery cleaning tool and clean your battery terminals.
Tap the starter with the jack handle or tire iron. The starter is an electric motor and can develop a flat spot on the armature. By tapping it, you’re trying to jar the armature enough to move it off the flat spot. But don’t overdo the tap. If you rail on it, you can damage the permanent magnets inside and destroy the starter.
If there’s no click when you turn the key.
You might have a bad transmission range selector (neutral safety switch). Shift into neutral and try starting. If that doesn’t work, shift back to PARK and try again. Repeat this cycle several times. If it finally starts, replace the switch.
If the engine cranks but won’t fire up.
Turn off the radio and blower motor so you have complete quiet. Turn the key to the “Run” (not START) position and listen for a 2-sec fuel pump prime sound coming from the gas tank. If you don’t hear any sound when you turn the key, you might have a bad fuel pump relay, bad fuel pump, or a poor fuel pump ground. There’s not much you can do right now about a bad ground because you don’t know where it is. But you can try these two car hacks to overcome the relay and pump problem. First, locate the fuel pump relay. In most cars it’s in the under hood fuse box. Refer to your owner’s manual or the legend printed on the fuse box cover. Then find another relay in the same fuse box with the exact same part number printed on the top. Swap the two relays and try starting the car. If it fires up, you had a bad relay. But a replacement at any auto parts store. If it still won’t fire up, you’ve got one more car hack to try. Beat on the bottom of the fuel tank with the heel of your shoe to jar the fuel pump. Then try starting the engine. If it starts, don’t rely on this trick to last very long—your pump is on its last legs. Get it replaced ASAP.
If you’ve flooded the engine and it won’t start (you know it’s flooded because you smell gas). Try this car hack: Press the accelerator pedal all the way to the floor and hold it. Don’t move your foot! Keep the pedal all the way down while you try starting the engine. That opens the throttle to allow fresh air in to evaporate the extra gas.
Here’s one last ditch car hack. You may have an engine vacuum leak or a funky temperature sensor. The vacuum leak throws off the air/fuel mixture, making it too lean to start a cold engine. And, a bad temperature sensor can mislead the computer into thinking your engine is warmer than it really is. So, if you’ve tried all the other car hacks and it still won’t start, try this: depress the accelerator halfway and hold it in that position while try to start the engine.
Car hack to open or close car window
If your power window won’t go up or down, it could be just be a worn spot on the electric motor armature. But you don’t have to disassemble the door right now. Try this car hack first: turn the key to the ON or RUN position. Then open the door and push or pull the window switch while you slam the door HARD. If the window moves, that’s an indication of a bad power window motor, so you’ll have to replace it. It’s actually cheaper to replace the entire window regulator. If that car hack doesn’t work, you’ll have to remove the door trim panel and conduct some tests. Read this post on how to do that.
Car hack to defrost rear window when defogger isn’t working
How to defrost the inside or your rear window when your defogger doesn’t work? Simple. Roll down a rear window about 2-in. Then crank up the blower motor full blast with the heat on HIGH. Then drive. The vehicle movement will suck air out of the rear window and circulate the hot air towards the rear window, causing it to defrost.
Car hack to get better traction
You’re stuck and your wheels are spinning. It’s hard to gain traction on fresh snow or ice when your traction control is cutting engine power to the spinning wheel or applying the brakes. Some vehicles allow you to temporarily shut off the traction control system by pressing the traction button once. If it turns back on too soon, pull over in a safe place and press the button until the traction off light appears on your dash.
Car hack to avoid spin out on icy roads
Get more control on icy roads. Most cars with automatic transmissions shift into overdrive at speeds above 40-MPH. That’s great for saving gas, but you lose the engine braking feature when you’re in overdrive, and that can cause loss of control in curves. To get a better feel for the road in icy conditions, turn off overdrive. To do that, click the overdrive button, shift the car into regular “D” instead of the “D” surrounded by a circle, shift into mud/snow or sport mode, or shift into 3rd gear.
Car hack to get unstuck from a rut
First turn off your traction control and try again. If that doesn’t work avoid this common mistake: trying to rock your car out of a rut by shifting between drive and reverse. That’s a great way to destroy your automatic transmission. Here’s how to get unstuck without damaging your transmission. Move the shifter to the lowest gear. Then gently apply power to get the car moving forward slightly without spinning your wheels (that only digs you in deeper), then back off the power and let the car roll backwards. Immediately apply power to move it forward again. Repeat this power/no power cycle until you gain enough momentum to get you out of the rut.
Car hack to find the gas filler door on a rental car
Car hack to check your alignment yourself
Check your alignment with a tire tread depth gauge. Buy a tire tread depth gauge at any auto parts store. Then check the tread depth in three places on each tire: inner, middle and outer tread. All three measurements should be within 1/32-in. of each other. If they’re not, you’ve got an alignment problem.
Car hack when remote keyless entry range is low
Remote keyless entry not working from a distance and you’ve already replaced the battery? Unplug your GPS and cell phone charger and try again. Those items can interfere with the radio signal from your remote.
Car hack to protect yourself from extra rental car charges
Renting a car? Shoot pictures all around the car before you drive it off the rental lot. Include date/time stamp and GPS in the image. That way you can prove the damage or paint scrapes were there before you rented it.
Car hack to prevent frozen doors
Car hack to prevent spin outs in winter
Turn off cruise control when traveling at high speeds in icy conditions. Bridge overpasses freeze over before roadways. If you’re driving with the cruise control on, your wheel can spin on the bridge deck and cause you to lose control.
©, 2016 Rick Muscoplat
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat