Quick and easy car hacks

No matter how much we love our cars, there can still be bugbears that drive us crazy. Here’s some of the best hacks we’ve learnt that help address those annoying niggles.

Written by Verity Hogan
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Activating or deactivating the child lock  

All cars feature a child safety lock on the back doors. And child safety in the car is important - you certainly don’t want to run the risk of a cheeky toddler opening the door while you’re driving. However, activating  or deactivating  these locks can sometimes be puzzling.  

Newer cars may have a button that locks and unlocks the doors from the front, but many are still operated manually. The best thing to do is to look in your car user manual. If you haven’t got this to hand, open the car door, look inside near where the latch is, and there will usually be a switch you can flick to turn the lock on or off.  

Stop seatbelt buckles disappearing  

It can be frustrating, especially if you’re in a rush, when your back seat passenger is struggling to find the seat buckle and it has fallen in between the seats. You can buy buckle holders that keep them in place, or you can make your own: cut off the end of a hollow swimming noodle to create a loop thin enough to fit between the seat and the belt buckle. Slit the loop open and wrap it under the buckle  tah dah! If you have kids, why not let them choose the colour of the swimming noodle so they feel like they’ve customised the car? 

Avoid a smeary windscreen 

Prevent smeary windscreens by looking after your wipers. Wipe them regularly with a soft cloth and washer fluid to clean any debris that may have built up  this will also help prevent damage to your windscreen.  

Extreme weather can do irreversible damage to your wipers. In the cold they can stick to the windscreen, so lift them up if you’re expecting snow or ice overnight. In hot weather, wipers can dry out, so try to park your car in the shade when possible.  

How to know what side your petrol cap is on 

Most of us would rather not struggle to stretch a petrol pump around our car  especially with a queue of cars behind us  so knowing which side your cap is on can save some embarrassment. Most cars feature a clue on the fuel gauge: this will either be an arrow next to the fuel pump icon; or even more cryptically (but clever), if the handle of the icon is on the left, your fuel cap is on the left too.   

Use your headlights to establish if your battery needs changing  

To establish whether you need to replace or charge a car battery, wait until it gets dark and start the car with the headlights on. If they look dim, put your car in neutral (or park if it’s an automatic) and start revving the engine. If the highlights start to get brighter as you press on the accelerator, then it’s likely that the battery needs replacing. 

Verity Hogan

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