Motorists have got it tough at the moment.
According to a recent study, the cost of keeping a car on the road has escalated by 10 per cent in the last year. With insurance premium tax due to rise in June, and both fuel and vehicle prices likely to be affected by the fluctuating strength of the pound, it could be a bumpy ride for drivers in the next few months.
So to make things a little easier, here are five must-know motoring hacks – some of which use items you can find in your bathroom cabinet – that will save you time, money and effort throughout the year.
The five tips have been collated by The Money Shop and Leasing Options as part of the former’s 2017 Life Hack Guide.
Don’t go west, park east: Leave your car facing east in the milder months and the sun will do the windscreen defrosting for you (granted you wake up late)
1. Park facing east to defy the frost
Okay, the winter temperatures might be behind us now, but there’s every chance in the UK that freezing conditions could return at the click of a finger.
When they do, make sure when you park your car at night you leave it pointing towards the east. But only if you can – we don’t want your car straddling across half the road.
Assuming you’re not an extremely early riser, by the time you get to the car in the morning the sun would have done much of the work to defrost your windscreen – meaning you won’t have to spend as much time scraping ice off the car or wasting fuel as you wait for the car’s demister to do its thing.
If you don’t leave your car parked out in the cold and treat it to overnight stays in a garage, there’s a hack for you too. Hang a tennis ball near the back of your garage at the same height as your rear windscreen and you’ll know when you’ve backed up far enough when it bounces off the glass – you’ll never reverse into the kitchen wall again.
Toothpaste is great for keeping your pearly whites clean and your headlamp covers minty fresh
2. Aquafresh, not just a pretty paste – it’s good for cleaning headlights too
Toothpaste is great for keeping your teeth sparkly, but it’s not bad at doing the same for your headlights.
If you’ve noticed that the clear outer headlamp covers have started to go yellow and rough, this is due to oxidation. But if you apply some paste to an old toothbrush and thoroughly clean the once opaque lenses the surface should become clearer. It will revitalise the look of your car as well as marginally improve your visibility at night.
Cover the glass lens with a thin layer of wax after buffing the area dry and this should delay the process happening again.
Found a scratch on the paintwork of your car? This is one way to protect it from rusting
3. Protect exposed paintwork with nail polish
There are suggestions that you can use coloured nail polished to cover scratches on the panels on your car. While this works to a degree, it’s not the idea repair scenario for a fairly new vehicle.
But nail polish is still a good stop-gap while you save up for a proper respray.
Bodyshops charge quite a lot to professionally repair paintwork and you might not want to have small surface scratches rectified immediately in case the same happens again at a later day.
So to stop the scratched exposed metal from rusting, apply a coat of clear nail polish around the damaged paint work and it should protect it from the elements until you can afford a qualified technician to complete the repair.
Hand sanitiser can be used to access frozen locks as well as clean your mitts
4. Clean your hands and then de-ice your locks
This is one for fans of slightly older models that don’t have a blipper controlling the central locking.
During the winter, put a tiny squirt of water-free hand sanitiser onto your car key and the alcohol in the solution will melt away any build up of ice in the lock.
Not using that roof rack any more? Take it off and you’ll benefit from having to fill up with fuel slightly less often
5. Clean your car and you’ll use less fuel
No, we don’t mean add a fresh layer or polish to make your car more aerodynamic – we’re talking about de-cluttering the interior to save a few pounds.
Empty your boot of unnecessary items, remove the bulky tow bar and roof bars and detach the roof rack you put on for the summer holidays and your car will burn through less fuel.
According to the RAC, every 50kg of weight increases fuel use by 2 per cent and an empty roof rack affects fuel consumption by around 10 per cent.
Unused roof bars also add extra weight and – along with roof racks – reduce the drag coefficient of the vehicle, meaning you’ll have to put your foot down more to compensate for these bulk additions.