How to Get the Most Use Out of Automotive Products

Everyone loves a tool that can multitask, from the classic Swiss Army knife to the modern smartphone. These tools save you time, money, and space, and if you have a vehicle, odds are you have some of these products sitting around without even realizing it. Here's some creative ways to use them more effectively.

Tools in a garage

Source | btwashburn/Flickr

WD-40

WD-40's most common use is quieting those creaky hinges, whether on your classic Mustang or your home's front door. While it's great at silencing squeaks, it has a ton of other uses.

  • General purpose machinery penetrating oil, for everything from garage doors to bicycle chains and zippers.
  • Tried on a ring and now it's stuck on your finger? With some WD-40, it should slide right off.
  • Remove black scuff marks from flooring. It's so good at this one, WD-40 could be a dedicated cleaner. It will remove everything, from an old bumper sticker on your car or crayon from walls.
  • Rainproof your gear. The “WD" in WD-40 stands for "water displacement," so when lightly sprayed on a tent or a pair of boots, WD-40 makes your equipment rainproof.

 

Brakleen

Brakleen

Brakleen is the name in automotive brake cleaning. As its moniker suggests, it's great at cleaning rotors, calipers, and whatnot of all that gross, sticky brake fluid and baked-on crud. It's also useful in other ways.

  • Brakleen makes a fantastic window cleaner. Just wear gloves, use sparingly and wipe dry. Then your windows are ready for Rain-X (see below).
  • Remove stains from driveway. Throw down sawdust/cat litter and sweep most of the spilled oil. Get the rest by applying Brakleen and rubbing with a rag.
  • Any brake cleaner will kill bugs. If wasps or other nasties are invading your garage, a light spray will instantly knock them down.
  • Brakleen is great at finding vacuum leaks. Spray on the suspect gasket area and watch for bubbles.

Rain-X

Rain-X should be the last step of your vehicle's detailing process. When applied to a car's windows, it creates an invisible barrier that sheets off rain. The difference is dramatic, but take your bottle inside for more uses.

  • Apply it to glass shower doors for the same water-sheeting effect. You'll notice less water spots over time, as the water won't be able to dry and leave spots on the glass.
  • While in the bathroom, apply Rain-X to the bathroom mirror. It will keep the mirror from fogging over during hot showers.
  • Speaking of fogging, try Rain-X on your camera's lens. It acts as a cleaner but also prevents fogging caused by changes in humidity and temperature, making for clearer photos.
  • If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, apply Rain-X to your exterior windows. The window will remain snow-free.

Disposable Gloves

Those cheapo plastic gloves available in large-quantity boxes prove invaluable around the home. You might already use them when swapping brake pads or changing differential oil. Here's what else they can do.

  • If you dye your hair, disposable gloves will prevent your hands from matching the shade of your hair. Similarly, when staining a fence, wear gloves to make clean-up a breeze.
  • Throw away that lint roller and use rubber gloves when cleaning up pet hair from furniture. Just put on the gloves and swipe up unbelievable amounts of fur.
  • At a Halloween party, fill disposable gloves with water and freeze. When frozen solid, toss them into a red punch for a creepy themed drink.
  • Fill disposable gloves with fast drying-cement mix and leave in a small bowl so they set in a curved shape. Peel off the glove and use multiple concrete hands to form a creative cupped-hands flower pot.

Sea Foam

Sea Foam is a multipurpose engine cleaner and lubricant that's been around longer than the Volkswagen Beetle. And it's not just used for car and truck engines, it can help with your smaller engines like lawn mowers, weedwackers, chainsaw, boats, and waverunners.

“Sea Foam works in fuel and motor oil to help all types of engines run better and last longer," says Brian Miller, director of marketing at Sea Foam Sales Company. It can be used in numerous ways.

  • When added to the fuel tank, it is a total fuel-system cleaner.
  • Sea Foam is also a fuel system lubricant, helping everything from fuel pumps to injectors to operate.
  • When added to crankcase, it dissolves deposits. Use before an oil change to completely clean out all the old oil.
  • Miller says Sea Foam is the go-to product used in professional fuel-injector-cleaning machines. Professional grade, for just a few bucks at home.

“Sea Foam is made from gentle petroleum ingredients, so it's safe in larger quantities," says Miller. If you mess up the mixture, don't stress. “The more you add to fuel, the better it works. You can run as high as 50 percent ratio in gas and can run a diesel on straight Sea Foam."

Next time you're in a pinch, take a look around your home and see how you can improvise. You might be surprised at the results. Have any creative tips on applying automotive products outside their intended use? Let us know what you've done, in the comments below.

Last updated July 26, 2017

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