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Video: Clever Car Hacks

CARS.COM — Do you remember that scene in “La La Land” where Ryan Gosling helps Emma Stone find her car by telling her to hold her key fob up to her chin?

No way that works, right? Wrong.

Related: Video: We Bust Common Car Myths

The typical fob only functions up to a few dozen feet, but you can extend that range by turning your head into an antenna. It sounds weird, but if you hold your fob up to your chin, you combine its ability to conduct electricity with that of your fluid-filled melon — extending the reach of your fob by more than you might think.

That got us to thinking about some other common-sense car hacks hiding out in the open, too obvious to admit you didn’t know.

Like, say, how to defog your windshield. Are you supposed to make it warm inside when it’s cold outside? Or cold inside when it’s warm outside?

When it’s cold out like today, fog tends to form on the inside of your windshield when you turn on the heat and add moisture to the air when you breathe, and that causes a driving hazard.

Start by turning your heater down or off, and if you can stand it even crack your window; this will help equalize the cold inside and outside temperatures.

Turn on your defroster to the max but on a cooler setting. Be sure to turn off your air-recirculation feature; leaving it on will simply recirculate humid air and take you back to square one.

Conversely, when it’s hot and humid outside, the cold air from your air conditioner will cause condensation to form on the outside of your windshield.

Obviously, the first thing you can do is wipe away the condensation with your windshield wipers. Then turn that AC down or off entirely to help balance the temperature, and again, turn off that recirculated air.
Crank up the defroster on a warmer setting, or just roll down your windows.

Clear enough?

OK, well what about when you’re driving in an unfamiliar car — like a rental, for example — or you’re just the kind of person who can never seem to remember which side your car’s fuel tank is on as you’re pulling into the gas station?

Just take a look at that little gas-pump icon near your fuel gauge. See that little arrow? If it’s on the right side of the gas pump, your fuel cap is on the right; if it’s on the left, your cap is on the left.

Admit it, some of you didn’t know that. Now you won’t have to do any more precarious 11-point turns to line up with the pump while your fellow fillers-up look on with judgey expressions.

Photo of Matt Schmitz
Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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