Expert advice: car hacks that it’s best to avoid

Is cleaning inside a car using cooking oil really a good idea? Read on to find out (Picture iStock/welcomia)

We’ve all spent time looking at car hacks that will make our life easier. It might be using a common household product instead of going to a motor retailer. Or perhaps trying something wacky, either as a last resort or so you can tell your mates.

But how many of them really work? We’ve taken half a dozen popular car hacks that you might be tempted to try. The trouble is, if you do, they might cost you more than you would have paid to get a professional in, or buy the proper product for the job.

Put an egg in a leaking radiator

car hacks
Eggs in radiators? The science seems to make sense… (Picture iStock/Skynesher)

The hack: you crack an egg into the car’s radiator. Just as when you poach eggs in the kitchen, the white and yolk solidify and the cooling system draws them to the leak which they block.

The reality: I would only recommend this oldest of car hacks if getting the engine running is a matter of life or death. Even then I’d think twice unless I was throwing the car away when I was safe.

On most modern cars you can’t put fluid directly into the radiator. So there’s no guarantee the egg will make it all the way to the leak. And it’s more likely to gunk up the cooling system before it does any good. The result? You might need a new cooling system rather than leak repair. If your car’s got a leaking radiator find a garage to fix it here.

Fix a dent with boiling water

The hack: you pour boiling water over the dented panel. This makes it malleable so you can ‘just push it out from the other side’.

The reality: this car hack relies on the dented panel being plastic. Actually, quite a lot of bumpers are nowadays. But if you can get to the other side of a panel without removing it or other important parts, you’ve got much smaller hands and far longer arms than I have. You’re more likely to pour scalding water over your feet than fix any dents.

Touching up paintwork with nail polish? (Picture iStock/Elena Gurova)

Repair scratches with nail polish

The hack: go into a chemist and buy some nail polish that’s the same colour as your car. It’s that simple.

The reality: matching colours is slightly tricker than that. What might look like the same colour in the bottle under shop lighting will be totally different when it’s dry and in natural light. And you don’t want to end up painting your entire car with nail polish! If the scratches really bother you, get a smart repair done by a professional.

Stick to drinking Coke (Picture iStock/Carlosalvarez)

Use Coca Cola to remove rust

The hack: Coca Cola contains phosphoric acid. The theory is this reacts with the rust and dissolves it leaving shiny, as-new metal.

The reality: the amount of phosphoric acid in Coke is miniscule, I’m told around 0.2 per cent by volume. So you’d have to leave whatever’s rusty immersed for days for it to have much effect. If you need to get rid of rust, there are plenty of commercially available products.

Clean interior plastic/leather with kitchen oil

The hack: don’t buy expensive products to clean your car’s interior. Wipe olive or vegetable oil over your dashboard and seats to make them look as good as new.

The reality: yes, it will make your leather and plastic surfaces look shiny and rejuvenated. But shortly afterwards it’ll get sticky and start to smell as the oil decays in the warm environment. I wouldn’t.

Seat wipes, care gels and upholstery cleaner – you’ll find it all on the Green Flag Shop.

Glue to mend a windscreen sounds logical but it’s not a great idea (Picture iStock/Mumemories)

Use superglue or clear nail polish in windscreen chips

The hack: rather than bothering your insurance company and getting a company to fix your windscreen chip with proper resin, use clear nail polish or superglue. This will fill the edges around the chip and stop it spreading.

The reality: both are too liquid to stay in the chip before they dry. That will make it difficult to apply – unless you can park on a hill that’s so steep your windscreen will be perfectly flat. Also, superglue goes cloudy when it dries. And that means your car might need a new windscreen to pass the MOT. Just get the pros in!

By John Price, a member of Green Flag’s team of automotive technical support engineers

We’re supporting Highways England’s ‘Go Left’ campaign.  If you break down on the motorway, remember to go left.

Find out more on the Highways England website.

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