Seven Used Car Life Hacks You Should Know About
1. Learn to Buff and Polish Your Car’s Paint
This might sound overly ambitious to some, but we can assure you it’s not as hard as it sounds. Your car’s clear coat takes a lot of abuse in the hot Texas sun. Many light to moderate scratches can be caused by automatic car washes, and contaminates from bird droppings can often eat through the clear coat entirely.
A good way to protect your paint is to wax your car at least two times a year. If your paint is starting to look a little hazy and covered in light scratches, simply applying wax isn’t sufficient. You’ll need to buff and polish the paint’s surface to remove oxidation and light scratches prior to wax application. The key is to purchase a dual-action buffer, and not orbital buffers that can easily leave swirls or burn through your car’s clear coat. A dual action buffer is easy to operate and can reward any amateur detailer with professional-caliber results.
2. Upgrade and Modernize Your Interior Lighting with LED Lighting
Most used vehicles use incandescent bulbs that produce a dim “yellow” illumination throughout the interior. They’re frequently hot to the touch, use a lot of power and simply don’t produce a lot of light.
To solve this problem, you should switch your interior lights to a high-quality LED bulb from manufacturers like Sylvania, Philips or Morimoto. This is a very simple modification and it makes a tremendous difference in overall light output. The pure white illumination is striking and it makes the interior of any vehicle seem more modern.
3. Remove Hard Water Spots from your Car’s Paint with Citrus-Based Products
The worst part about washing your car is hard water spots left behind on your paint. There is a lot of calcium in city water and unless you are very quick to dry the paint after washing, hard water spots can often be left behind. It’s always best to wash your car in the early morning before the sun comes up or in the evening when the sun goes down to help prevent this, but sometimes it is inevitable.
Using citrus-based hard water spot removers from professional detailing companies is your best bet to remove these spots from your paint. The acid in these products neutralizes water spot stains for effortless removal and restores the smooth-as-glass feeling back to your car’s paint.
4. Clean Hazy Headlights with Rubbing Compound
I’m sure many of you have heard that toothpaste and mosquito repellant are the magic solutions to cleaning oxidized headlights, and we’re here to direct you toward a better solution.
Most headlights in modern cars are made of plastic, and the clear coat will eventually start to break down over time as it’s exposed to the sun’s UV rays. It’s usually not a matter of if it will happen, but when for older cars especially.
First, tape off the paint surrounding your headlights with painters tape. If you already own a dual-action buffer, add a few dots of 3M rubbing compound on a foam pad and turn the speed to low to moderate setting. Don’t press too hard, let the pad and compound work their magic.
If you don’t have a dual action buffer, a foam or wool pad attached to a drill will also work. This method will usually cut right through light headlight oxidation and restore them to like-new condition. If they’re heavily oxidized, you might have to wet sand them prior to polishing with 1500-2000 grit sandpaper. After you’ve finished polishing, coat the headlights with wax regularly to maintain a layer of protection from the sun.
5. Use Tuff-Stuff Multi Purpose Foam Cleaner to Remove Carpet Stains
Short of taking your vehicle to a professional detailer to have your carpets cleaned with a hot water extractor, we’ve found that Tuff-Stuff is the best universal upholstery cleaner. With Tuff-Stuff, you don’t have to gamble away a small fortune on high-end detailing products from retailers claiming they have the magic solution.
Tuff Stuff can be found at Wal-Mart for under $3.50 and is safe on carpets, cloth seats and fabric headliners. Simply spray a small amount onto the stain, let the foam dissipate and soak, and then use a soft scrub brush to agitate the area. If necessary, use a clean microfiber cloth and lightly dab the carpet to extract excess dirt for heavily soiled areas.
6. Use an FM Tuner for Bluetooth Audio
For older vehicles without infotainment systems equipped with Bluetooth audio, there is now a solution for you to stream music from your phone. No longer will you have to utilize a cassette adaptor or AUX input—that is, if your vehicle’s radio is even equipped with either.
An FM Tuner allows you to tune-in to a frequency that’s not broadcasting a signal and stream Spotify, Pandora and other stored music on your phone using Bluetooth. It simply plugs into your cigarette lighter or any 12V outlet—no cords, and no hassle!
7. Install LED Reverse Lights
This hack is sure to change your life for the better, but more importantly, enable you to actually see what’s behind you when backing up your car or truck at night.
Most vehicles come with dim incandescent reverse lights that make it nearly impossible to see when backing out of a driveway at night, especially if your vehicle has dark window tint. We’ve all had to roll down our window at some point and stick our head outside just to make sure we weren’t about to back up into a ditch.
You’ll never have to do that again with a high-quality pair of LED back-up lights. As soon as you move your gear selector into reverse, light as bright as the sun itself will project outward and illuminate the driveway behind you and anything else in your path.