Many car owners feel overly dependent on auto mechanics to keep their vehicles in shape. This reluctance to take maintenance into their own hands really makes driving and owning a car more expensive and less enjoyable. So drop your fear of getting your hands dirty and check out these handy tips to DIY car maintenance:

Keep an Eye on your Parking Spot

There’s no need to wander the parking lot after a brief trip to the mall like my grandmother was so renowned at doing. Just take a quick snapshot with your smartphone and its notable surroundings to help orient yourself when you’re ready to leave. This trick sounds like a no-brainer and it truly is, save yourself the time and frustration!

A Layman's Guide To Hacking Your Car

Design your own Console

The space in immediate vicinity to the driver’s seat should be declared holy ground. If only everything we needed would be easily within reach, we wouldn’t get so frustrated trying to reach underneath the passenger seat while keeping our eyes on the road in search of those pesky tic tacs. Most car manufacturers seem to have never experienced this desperation and it’s actually a very personal thing. So why not put together your own DIY car console for convenience and easy storage that’s actually within your arm’s reach. Sticky pads on the dashboard are must-haves for drivers who use navigation apps from their phones. More creative types will also find ways, with Tupperware, duct tape, and other common items, to craft their own personal cockpit.

Take Gas Mileage Seriously

Even if you tend to be one of those drivers who’s liberal with the accelerator, there are tricks to getting the most out of your fuel economy. Start by keeping track of your gas mileage because you’ll never know if your efficiency is improving or worsening without a baseline number. Then leave lots of space ahead of you, affording you the time to slow down gradually and preserve your momentum when the brake lights fade. And actually, despite popular belief, cruise control should be used more often to save on fuel. The more gradual acceleration is again a counter-balance to lead feet.

De-Ice Locks

Among many other tips for winterizing your vehicle, a simple squirt of hand sanitizer has been shown to break down ice due to its alcohol content.

Stain Removal

Show me a car without any interior coffee stains, and I’ll show you someone who’s never had a hectic morning commute! The jury isn’t really out on whether dishwashing detergent or vinegar is the most effective, so I’m keen on combining them both. Apply a watered down mixture of the two to the coffee stain with a sponge, let stand for fifteen minutes, and then wipe away with warm water.

Integrate your Mp3 Player into your Dashboard

Although many new vehicles come equipped with auxiliary audio jacks, many drivers of less-equipped cars resort to expensive after-market stereo upgrades so they can jam to their own playlists. But there are quick hacks with nothing more than a screwdriver that can allow you to plug into your stereo system. There are also trickier versions that require an old pair of headphones and a soldering iron.

There are many more DIY tricks that can make your driving experience, from the moment you drive off the Jeep dealership lot, more convenient and more fun. Be aware of your warranty’s caveats, prohibiting certain DIY alterations, and take care to not get in over your head. But otherwise, your vehicle doesn’t have to be a hands-off zone.