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Driving tips and other life stuff

8 car hacks for new drivers

I know. You're an amazing driver. But it takes some getting used to, the whole 'having a car' thing. It's like suddenly being expected to cart a garden shed around with you. Where to put it, how to fix it, when to clean's a whole new relationship.

  1. Lucky enough to have a garage but new enough to fear parking in it?

    It's a tight spot. Unlike with those forgiving bays at your driving test centre, you need precision to park in a garage without getting too close to either wall. You know those weird foam sticks you used to play with at the swimming pool when you were a kid? Get one, you're going to need it.

    While you're getting used to parking in a shoebox, stick half of one of these (scissors should do the trick - we're not going for aesthetics here) to each wall of your garage. It'll protect your doors as you open them, keeping your paintwork lovely as you get your skills up.

  2. Defrost a stuck door lock

    We've given the 'warm your key up with a lighter' tip before, but here's a new one: squirt hand sanitiser straight into the lock. The alcohol will rapidly melt the ice and you'll be away in no time. With nice clean hands. Win.

  3. Turn your back seats into a comfortable bed

    Here's another tip that comes courtesy of Lidl's garden section: if you're going to be driving a long distance and hopefully stopping for a rest to keep yourself sharp, put an inflatable lilo along your back seats.

    Emergency air bed - amazing.

  4. Cool down a sauna car in minutes

    Ooops. Experience hasn't yet taught you to park in the shade - your car is now hotter than the surface of the sun. Fear not: there is a trick for this.

    Open the front passenger window. Get out and stand by your car. Open and close the driver's door several times. The airflow through the car will cool it down super fast and you'll be able to drive away without melting. Hooray!

    Go get more summer driving tips.
  5. Hold your electronic car key against your head for better range

    I have yet to see this in practice but a friend of mine told me he does it when he needs to find his car in a dark car park. Save yourself the 5 minutes of stumbling about with your phone as a torch and go straight there!

    BUT: you should unlock your car for the flash, then lock it again as there are a lot of chancers in this world and you don't want one of them driving off in your car as you watch from across the car park.

  6. Stop your windscreen misting up

    This one requires you to bear with me while I say something weird. Get some silica cat litter (do I need to say unused?) and put it in a sock. Tie the sock off at the top. Put it on your dashboard.

    Still with me? This trick absorbs moisture from the air and stops your car steaming up. No more waiting game every morning as you sit watching your windscreen demist.

  7. Watch lorry drivers for traffic hints

    These guys know what's what. Not only are they always on the move and know our motorway system like the back of a truck, they also talk to each other constantly to share information about problems on the road ahead.

    If you run into traffic or see a road closure ahead and you don't know another route, look out for what commercial vehicles are doing. They will be your most reliable way out.

  8. Keep your chips warm on the way home

    The simplest - and best - car hack of all time: direct your heater vents to your passenger seat and rest your takeaway upon it. Enjoy delicious, toasty-warm food when you arrive home. YOU'RE WELCOME.

  9. Did you see my summer driving tips? They'll stop you going off the boil over the coming months.