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Strange But True Car Tricks Every Driver Should Know

Why you need toothpaste, pool noodles, nail polish and a toilet plunger for your car.

Chances are you rely heavily on your car. If your city doesn’t have good public transportation, a vehicle can be a necessity to get you from home to the grocery store, the doctor’s office and the kids’ school.

But, from gas to maintenance to repairs, owning a car can be expensive.

Here are some simple tips that will keep your car in tip-top shape, make driving more pleasant—and maybe even save you a few bucks along the way. This way you can save your money for something much more fun, like that karaoke machine you’ve been eyeing.

Defog Your Car By Turning On The Air Conditioning

It sounds crazy, but there is a reason this works. You can defog your car faster using this multi-step process:

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  1. Turn the heat on full blast to eliminate moisture in the air.
  2. Turn on the A/C to make it more arid.
  3. Switch back to heat, and switch off the air recirculation button (the one with the arrow twirling around the inside of the car). Let that cold outside air come into the car while the heat is on.
  4. Open the windows. Not a lot, since it’s clearly cold outside, but enough to let cold air come into the car, drying it even more.

This works much quicker than just blasting the defrost when you first get in the car.

bierdoctor/Flickr

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Cover The Windshield During Winter

In the summer, you may use a sunshade to prevent the smoldering sun heating up your car’s interior. In the winter, you can do the same thing, except put a blanket, tarp or plastic tablecloth over the outside of your windshield to protect it from snow and ice. This also keeps your windshield wipers from sticking to the glass.

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Tina Franklin/Flickr

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Try This Weird, But Efficient Way To Cool Down Your Car

Instead of blasting the air conditioning (or if your A/C doesn’t work), try this instead:

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  1. Roll down the driver’s side window.
  2. Go to the passenger side, and open and close the doors a few times.

This forces the hot air out of the car, cooling your car faster than simply relying on the air conditioning to cool down your hotbox.

Flickr | wbaiv

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Don’t Buy Any More Air Fresheners

Instead of shelling out good money for those car freshener trees that you hang from the rearview mirror, simply use an herbal tea bag. Wrap it in a breathable cloth, and hang it on the mirror. Tea bags are much cheaper to replace, and there are plenty of soothing scents to choose from. If you’re prone to road rage, may we suggest some calming lavender?

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Tony Alter/Flickr

RELATED: 10 Tricks To Get Your Car Cleaner Than Ever Before

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How To Clean Those Little Crevices

Once again, The Family Handyman came to our car-cleaning rescue by sharing his tip on cleaning small crevices in our cars. All you’ll need is a flathead screwdriver and a cloth to cover it with.

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You can then spray a cleaner on it, or a natural cleaning agent—if you read our pieces on all the amazing things vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice can do—and clean all your car’s hard-to-reach spots.

Flickr | chefranden

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Quick Fix For A Missing Wiper Blade

If you can’t make it to the mechanic to get a new wiper blade or happen to lose one on a long-distance drive, here’s a quick fox for you: Find yourself a woman’s stocking. Wrapping pantyhose tightly (keyword: tightly!) around your windshield wiper can offer a quick fix in a storm and prevent a bare wiper from possibly scratching your windshield.

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Flickr | woodleywonderworks

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Use These Tricks When You’re Low On Gas

When you see your gas tank nearing “E” for empty, it may be tempting to speed up to find the nearest gas station. Don’t! According to car experts interviewed for Cars.com, the first thing you should do is pull over and look up the closest gas station and fastest route to getting there to avoid wasting any precious drops of fuel on a wrong turn. Next, turn off your heat or A/C, if possible, your stereo and unplug anything you’ve been charging. Finally, try to stick to a slow and steady speed (ideally going 35-45 miles per hour) until you reach your refueling point.

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flickr / chrismetcalfTV

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Know How Far Your Car Can Drive On Empty

The “empty” indicator often comes on well before your gas tank is empty. But how can you be sure how many miles you have to go before you actually run out of gas? While some cars will give you a miles-to-empty estimate, it’s still just that: an estimate. Because the distance-to-empty could vary based on traffic and speed, Your Mechanic put together a handy chart that reveals how many miles certain makes and models really can go while on empty (based on 2015 models).

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homesalive.ca

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Tackle Dog Hair With Rubber Gloves

If you’re a dog owner, driving with your canine companions is often (OK, mostly!) unavoidable. To combat the fur they leave behind, try this simple hack: Fill a spray bottle with water and lightly spritz the interior of your car. Throw on a pair of rubber gloves and rub your hands over the seats, floor and doors. The hair should stick to the gloves, and you can rinse them off as you go.

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Flickr | Bennilover

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Drive Through Standing Water The Right Way

The best way to drive through a flooded section of road or massive puddle is to NOT drive through it at all. If going forward is your only option, hold steady on the gas and drive slowly. If you drive a manual, don’t change gears. You want to avoid water meeting the air intake on your engine, so the higher your car is off the ground, the better. But, again, the best way to prevent damage is to avoid driving through standing water in the first place.

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Flickr | Andrew Kalat

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Remove Stickers With Wet Newspaper

Maybe you got a little overzealous with the political bumper stickers when you were feeling fired up, or your car is still boasting that your kid is an honor roll student even though she’s now a college grad.

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Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to purge your car’s bumper of old stickers, but anyone who’s ever attempted to do this knows that it’s easier said than done.

A simple way to remove old stickers without damaging your car is to use damp newspaper. Just wet a piece of newspaper and lay it over the sticker for about 15 minutes. This will soften the adhesive residue and make it easier to wipe off. It works for stickers on the windshield as well.

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Reduce Food Mess With An Organization Bucket

Meals on the go are a fact of life for many families, but trusting kids with fast food in the car can lead to a big mess. Next time you swing through a drive-thru, come prepared with an organization bucket for stashing the food. This prevents fries from getting lost in the crevices and helps protect against spills.

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Check it out in action — using a $1 bucket from Target, no less — on the blog Lookie What I Did.

Lookie What I Did

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