AC controls in car
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
February 27, 2024 ·  8 min read

25 Car Problems With Affordable Fixes

It is estimated that we spend 51 minutes on average driving every single day.1 We go to work, we take the children to soccer practice, we run errands, we go out to dinner, and we even go for a drive when we need to clear our heads. We spend a large part of our lives in our cars, and the daily use we put them through takes a toll on them, little by little. Eventually, we start to get car problems, and our vehicles go from looking and smelling brand new to looking completely worn out. However, with a few simple maintenance tricks, we can extend a car’s functionality and keep it looking brand new.

These tricks, contrary to popular belief, do not require expensive products or labor-intensive projects. Real wonders can be done with items that we already have at home, or with objects that we can find in any supermarket. From the bottle of Coca-Cola that you didn’t finish yesterday to the old socks that live at the bottom of the drawer, it’s easier than ever to keep your car looking like the day you drove it off the lot, without costing you an arm and a leg in the process.

Read: The Biggest Reason People aren’t Buying Electric Cars

1. Defrost Your Door Handles

Closeup of car door handle and lock covered in ice during winter storm. Concept of winter driving preparedness and safety
Credit: Shutterstock

Fix: Winter mornings can be frustrating when your car door handles freeze. Spray cooking spray on the hinges of the handles to prevent this car problem. It’s a simple yet effective solution for a problem many of us face during colder months.

2. Save Your Coins From Mid-Seat Peril

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Fix: Losing small items like coins between your car seats can be a common annoyance. The narrow gap between the seats and the center console can make retrieval difficult. A cost-effective solution is to cut a pool noodle to size and place it in this gap, providing an easy retrieval method for your lost items.

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Credit: thesun

Fix: Using your phone while driving is unsafe, but GPS navigation can be essential. Creating a hands-free phone holder with a rubber band and a pen is a smart way to keep your phone within your line of sight while driving, improving safety.

4. Get Rid of Bad Smells

Mechanic is changing an air filter. Car hood is open.
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Fix: Unpleasant odors can accumulate in your car over time. The culprit is often the air filters. To resolve this issue, regularly check if your car’s filters are removable, and if so, replace them with new air filters. It’s a simple maintenance task that can significantly improve your driving experience.

Read: Hertz Set to Sell 20K Electric Vehicles, Shifting Back to Gas-Powered Cars

5. Insulation Leaks

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Credit: autoguide

Fix: Sealing gaps between your windshield and dashboard offers several benefits. It keeps your car drier in cold weather and acts as soundproofing. This can be achieved cost-effectively by using pipe insulation or rubber sealant. You don’t need to spend a fortune on professional services to fix this car problem; you can do it yourself.

6. Winterize with Cooking Spray

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Credit: today

Fix: Freezing car doors is a common issue during winter. By thoroughly spraying the rubber seal of your car door with cooking spray before a cold night, you can prevent the doors from freezing shut. WD40 can also serve the same purpose: keeping your locks from freezing.

7. Cold Winter Mornings

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Fix: Staying warm during winter drives is a top priority. Electric blankets designed for car use offer a practical solution to this car problem. Plugging them into your car ensures a quickly warm and comfortable journey, rather than waiting for vents to warm up to the task.

8. Effective Car Vacuuming

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Credit: dailymail

Fix: Car seats can trap odors, especially if you frequently have passengers. To address this issue, use baking soda as an odor-neutralizer. Sprinkle it generously on your car seats, let it sit overnight, and then vacuum up the residue in the morning. This simple and cost-effective method will leave your car smelling fresh.

Read: One of The World’s Longest Bridges is Also One of The Scariest to Cross

9. So There’s a Dent in Your Car

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Credit: diy-auto-repair.wonderhowto

Fix: Dents on your car’s body can be frustrating, especially if you’ve lent your car to someone. However, you can often fix small dents with a regular plunger and some hot water. Splash hot water on both the plunger and the dent, then gently push and pull with the plunger to restore the surface. This DIY solution can make a noticeable difference in the appearance of your car.

10. DIY Air Freshener

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Credit: feltmagnet

Fix: You can create your own car air freshener using a simple glass jar and scented candle wax. Drill a few holes in the lid of the glass jar, place scented wax in the bottom, and when your car gets warm, the wax will melt, releasing a pleasant aroma. It’s an ingenious way to keep your car smelling nice without resorting to commercial air fresheners.

11. Headlights Need Cleaning

Technician with holding toothbrush and toothpaste to shine and brighten the headlights of the car. Topical car wash and care. car care. headlight polishing and care concept..
Credit: Shutterstock

Fix: Over time, your car’s headlights can become yellowed or foggy, reducing their brightness. An easy DIY solution is to use toothpaste for headlight restoration. By cleaning your headlights with soap and water, applying a thin layer of whitening toothpaste, and gently polishing with a damp cloth, you can improve their clarity in less than 30 minutes.

12. Dusty Dashboard

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Fix: Vaseline can be a versatile tool for car owners. You can fix this common car problem by applying a small amount of petroleum jelly after washing it with a cleaning solution. This simple trick helps maintain a shiny and dust-free dashboard.

13. Be Prepared

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Fix: Paper towels are essential for various cleaning tasks in your car. To keep them easily accessible and prevent them from wandering around your trunk, place a short elastic cord inside the trunk’s lid. This allows you to store a roll of paper towels efficiently, ensuring you’re always prepared for any mess.

Read: Grandmother Creates Her Own Electric Car For $24,000

14. Washing Made Simple

Man worker washing car's alloy wheels on a car wash
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Fix: For an effective DIY car wash, you don’t need to buy specialized products. Your shower conditioner can be repurposed as an all-purpose car wash. Just add a little conditioner to your bucket of water before washing your car to give it a shine and enhance resistance to dust or watermarks.

15. Deep Cleaning Your Wipers

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Fix: Keep your windshield wipers in good condition by periodically cleaning them. Use rubbing alcohol and a cloth to remove built-up grime and extend the life of your wipers. This simple maintenance step ensures better visibility during rainy or snowy weather.

16. Convertible Soft Tops Can Be Tricky

Vintage Convertible car with soft top closing/opening
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Fix: If you own a convertible, you may encounter stuck or stubborn zippers. To prevent this car problem, rub a candle (preferably white or clear) along the zipper teeth to lubricate them. This small, budget-friendly fix keeps your convertible top functioning smoothly.

Read: Winterizing Your Car: 6 Places To Lubricate Before the Temperature Drops

17. Prevent Foggy Mirrors

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Fix: Foggy side mirrors can be hazardous, but you can easily prevent them from fogging up by rubbing toothpaste on the mirrors and then wiping it off with a clean cloth. This trick keeps your mirrors clear during damp or chilly weather.

18. Hand Sanitizer vs. Sticky Spills

washing hand with hand sanitizer
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Fix: Sticky spills in your car can be frustrating, but a quick solution involves using hand sanitizer, which contains alcohol to dissolve sticky substances. Apply a small amount of hand sanitizer to the spill, let it sit for a moment, and then wipe it away with a cloth. It’s an efficient way to handle unexpected messes.

19. Your Own Window Cleaner

male hand cleaning car window with blue microfiber cloth
Credit: Shutterstock

Fix: Make your own cost-effective and efficient window cleaner by mixing equal parts of water and white vinegar. This DIY solution leaves your windows streak-free and crystal clear, enhancing visibility while driving.

20. Restore Your Sun-Damaged Dashboard

car problems hacks
Credit: apartmenttherapy

Fix: Over time, your dashboard can fade and become sun-damaged. To rejuvenate it, apply a solution of water and a little olive oil with a microfiber cloth. This easy method restores the shine and color of your dashboard, providing it with a new lease on life.

21. Prevent Rusty Keyholes

rusty car keyhole
Credit: Shutterstock

Fix: Rust on your car’s keyholes can be annoying, making it difficult to insert your key. To prevent this issue, apply a small amount of clear nail polish to the keyhole. This acts as a barrier, preventing rust from forming and keeping your locks functional.

Read: Warning: Why You Might Want to Wrap Your Car Key Fob in Aluminum Foil

22. Fashionable Fix For Your Paint Chips

Touching up a body car with a small brush by a young woman
Credit: Shutterstock

Fix: Minor paint chips or scratches can be unsightly. You can hide these imperfections with a small amount of clear nail polish. Apply it to the damaged area to prevent rust and maintain the appearance of your car.

23. Keep Cupholders Clean

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Credit: News24

Fix: This is one of the most prevalent car problems. Cupholders tend to collect dirt and grime over time, making them difficult to clean. To simplify this task, place silicone cupcake liners in the cupholders. These liners are easy to remove and clean, keeping your cupholders in pristine condition.

24. Stop Your Battery From Corroding

applying petroleum jelly to the terminals
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Fix: Corrosion on your car’s battery terminals can disrupt electrical connections. To prevent this, apply a layer of petroleum jelly to the terminals. This prevents corrosion buildup and ensures a more reliable electrical system.

25. Cleaning Your Air Vents

Cleaning inside the car by using a toothbrush at channel of air conditioning
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Fix: The air vents in your car can collect dust and debris, affecting air quality. A simple way to clean them is to use foam paintbrushes, which easily fit into the narrow slots. Gently brush away dust and dirt, improving the air circulation in your car.

Taking care of your car doesn’t have to be expensive. These affordable fixes to your car problems will help you maintain your car’s appearance and functionality without breaking the bank. From preventing frozen door handles to getting rid of bad odors, these tricks can save you time and money while keeping your car in top shape. So, give them a try and enjoy the benefits of a well-maintained vehicle.

Keep Reading: 15 Things You Should Never Do To Your Car


  1. You Can Solve Your Car Problems With These Affordable Fixes.” Investing. Emma Verner. July 13, 2023.
  2. 50 Easy DIY Car Repairs You Can Do at Home.” Fixd. Justin Hughes. August 11, 2022
  3. 5 Cheap Car Repairs That Pay Off Big Down the Road.” Money Talks News. Donna Freedman. September 16, 2021.