Six essential motoring hacks every driver should know

From the correct way to set up your mirrors to clearing foggy headlights, these tips will improve your motoring experience

22 December 2021 - 10:58 By Staff Writer
Make the best of your motoring experience with these tips.
Make the best of your motoring experience with these tips.
Image: Denis Droppa

We spend a lot of time in our cars and getting through the daily grind can be daunting as you deal with inconsiderate drivers, non-working traffic lights and changing weather conditions.

Here are a few tips on how to make the best of the experience, as well as some advice on keeping your car in tip-top shape without spending a fortune.

20/20 vision: setting up your mirrors

One of the perils of changing lanes is the dreaded blind spot. Every driver should glance over their shoulder to first check that the lane is clear, but it’s best to also have your rear-view mirrors set up for the widest possible angle.

A common mistake by drivers is to angle their side mirrors too much to the inside, so that the sides of their vehicle are visible when checking the rear view. This is unnecessary and reduces the angle of view.

The correct way is to adjust side mirrors so only a small sliver of your car's sides are visible. This, with the windscreen-mounted centre mirror, will provide the widest possible rear-view angle. But always remember to check over your shoulder too.

The right way to set up your side mirror.
The right way to set up your side mirror.
Image: Denis Droppa
The wrong way to set up your mirror.
The wrong way to set up your mirror.
Image: Denis Droppa

Locating the fuel flap

We feel sorry for petrol attendants who have to stretch hoses and insert nozzles at awkward angles because you’ve parked on the wrong side of the fuel pump.

It’s easy to forget which side of the car the fuel flap is located, especially if you own a few vehicles or when you drive rental cars. But not everyone knows that in most cars the fuel pump icon in the instrument panel displays where the fuel flap is located, usually depicted with an arrow.

The fuel gauge of most cars has an arrow indicating where the fuel flap is located.
The fuel gauge of most cars has an arrow indicating where the fuel flap is located.
Image: Denis Droppa

Locking all doors/driver’s door

Some people prefer to unlock all the doors at once with a single click of the remote. Others prefer to unlock only the driver’s door with the first click, pressing a second time to unlock the remaining doors, believing it provides better security.

Either way, many modern cars let you choose to have it one way or the other, and it’s a setting that can be adjusted in the vehicle’s infotainment system. It’s also possible to set some cars to automatically lock the doors as you start driving. Check the owner’s manual to find out how.

Many modern cars give you the choice of unlocking all doors with either one or two presses of the remote.
Many modern cars give you the choice of unlocking all doors with either one or two presses of the remote.
Image: Denis Droppa

Repair window cracks with nail polish

Stone chips or cracks in a windscreen can spread quickly, but there’s a way to stop or slow it down until you can get it professionally fixed.

First, clean off any dirt, then fill the cracked area with clear nail polish. When it dries, it helps seal the area to prevent the crack from spreading.

A drop of nail varnish can help prevent windscreen chips spreading into bigger cracks.
A drop of nail varnish can help prevent windscreen chips spreading into bigger cracks.
Image: Denis Droppa

Fix dents with a plunger

You can be a great driver, but that won’t necessarily protect your car from getting bumped, sometimes when it’s parked and minding its own business.

Using a plunger can be a great tool for removing minor dents instead of paying for a panel beater or making an insurance claim. Give it a few hard pulls and you should be able to remove most superficial dents with ease.

Using a plunger can be a great tool for removing minor dents.
Using a plunger can be a great tool for removing minor dents.
Image: Denis Droppa

Clean headlights with toothpaste

Just as toothpaste can remove unwanted particles from your teeth, it can remove stains from foggy headlights. Toothpaste contains a mild abrasive that buffs out the surface and makes for clearer headlights.

Squeeze a small amount onto the affected areas, work in with an old toothbrush and the headlight should shine brighter than ever.

Toothpaste contains a mild abrasive that buffs out the surface and makes for clearer headlights.
Toothpaste contains a mild abrasive that buffs out the surface and makes for clearer headlights.
Image: Denis Droppa

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