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Old-School Car Maintenance Tricks All Drivers Should Know

Kevin V

Old-School Car Maintenance Tricks All Drivers Should Know

There’s no need to go to a mechanic for all of your car maintenance needs. You can perform these tried-and-true fixes yourself with things you probably have laying around the house.

Little Effort = Big Savings


Performing routine maintenance on your vehicle is important to keep it running right. But it’s hard to keep up with all of the car maintenance products on the market these days. You could spend a fortune and visit your mechanic monthly, but oftentimes there’s an old-school, DIY solution for your car maintenance needs that will keep it running reliably with minimal time and money spent. Check out this list of car maintenance tricks your grandfather surely knew—and you should, too.


Get More Out of Your Wiper Blades

clean windshields

As wiper blades age, they lose their ability to clear your windshield properly. But with a couple household products and a little elbow grease, you can help them last longer. Start by cleaning the base of the windshield with some window glass cleaner, just underneath where the wiper blades rest. Then, wet a paper towel with some rubbing alcohol and wipe the blades down until they come clean. You should see a marked difference in how they clear your view.


A Penny for Your Treads

penny tire tread

You can’t expect your car to give you a safe ride if the tire treads are too worn down. To quickly check the state of your tire treads, place a penny with Lincoln’s head facing down into the tire tread. If his head stays clearly above the tread, you need to replace your tires.


Clear Up Fogged Headlights with Toothpaste

cleaning fogged headlights

Over time, the surface of your headlights will oxidize and become foggy or yellowed. You can clean them up with toothpaste, which is a very mild abrasive. First, clean the headlights with soap and water. Then, squeeze some toothpaste onto a soft cloth and rub it into the wet headlight in a circular motion. Keep adding toothpaste and water as needed. Once finished, rinse thoroughly, and dry it with a soft cloth. Apply a headlight sealant for future protection.


Remove Bugs with WD-40

clean bugs off car

Most people have a can of WD-40 in the garage, as it’s good for so many jobs around the house. But this magic lubricant can also help you remove dried up, dead bugs from the front of your car. Just spray it on the affected areas and let it sit for about ten minutes. Then, with a sponge or soft cloth and a little elbow grease, you can wipe those bugs away much more easily. Afterward, wash your vehicle as usual.


Defrost Your Windshield with Rubbing Alcohol

defrost car windshield

When winter comes and freezes up your windshield, have a quick fix ready to go. Add one part water and two parts rubbing alcohol (70 percent isopropyl alcohol) to a spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray the solution onto your iced up windshield and the frost and ice will start to break apart and melt.


Pull a Dent Out with a Plunger

car dent plunger

Small- to medium-sized dents can be pulled out of your car with a cup plunger (the type used for unclogging sinks). Just wet both the car and the plunger to ensure good suction. Then place the plunger over the dent and begin to push and pull until the dent pops out.


Check Your Alignment with Some String

check wheel alignment

You can check your wheels’ alignment the old-fashioned way with string, jack stands, and a tape measure. Park on a level surface, air the tires up evenly, and center the steering wheel before you start. Position the jack stands in the back and front of the vehicle a couple of inches from the wheels, and tie the string up level on the jack stands. Then, measure the front and back of the rims in relation to the string, and make adjustments based on your observations.


Bounce Test Your Shocks

test shocks car

Your car’s shocks and struts help to stabilize the vehicle as you drive, keeping you from bouncing down the road as you turn, accelerate, or brake. You can test your shocks with a simple “bounce test.” Stand at the seam of the bumper and push it down. If it bounces back twice or more, then you probably need to replace your shocks or struts.


Test Your Headlights on Your Garage Door

car garage door headlights test

Headlights may become misaligned just the way wheels do. You can quickly assess whether your headlights are properly aligned by parking your car about 25 feet away from a flat vertical wall, like your garage door. If they are shining unevenly, consult a mechanic or your owner’s manual for instructions on realigning them.