Car Life Hacks [7 Useful Ideas for Vehicle Dwellers]

Car Life Hacks [7 Useful Ideas for Vehicle Dwellers]

Whether you need a few car life hacks because you live in your vehicle full-time, or even just drive it fairly often, these simple-but-effective, useful ideas are going to make things MUCH easier!

Even better, all of these car life hacks are either cheap or free, so anyone reading this can easily try these projects without spending a lot of money on unnecessary gear and gadgets.

And away we go...


This is my trusty (but bent up) tissue paper storage box. I keep MANY items in it.

While some people have perfect, squeaky clean cars with lots of available storage room inside, many of us have tons of stuff on hand, and where to put it becomes a challenge. This is especially true if your vehicle is your home.

For others, their center console and glove compartment might be filled to the max, and there's no place to keep important items within close reach.

Problem solved!


  • Get an empty tissue box

  • Remove the plastic lining on top

  • Affix some velcro to the backside or underside of the box

  • Affix the opposite side of the velcro anywhere in your car; behind the seats, on the rear inside door panels, on the dashboard, etc., then just attach the tissue box to it. I placed mine on the hump between the driver's seat & passenger seat, affixed to the plastic wall (see photo above).

  • Insert your belongings into the box. Pills, vitamins, spare keys, nail clippers, small first-aid kits, phone chargers and many more lighter items can be stored in these boxes. This hack makes items you use frequently easily accessible at all times!



  • Get a paper cup

  • Cut notches on opposite sides of the cup (see photo above)

  • Affix velco to the backside of the cup

  • Affix the opposite side of velcro behind seats, headrests, on the interior door panels, etc. (Or, you can do without the velcro and simply stand the cup up.)

  • Insert your phone into the notches on the cup, and VOILA!, you've got an instant phone stand that can be placed anywhere inside of your car


We ALL eventually have trash in our cars, especially if you live in your vehicle, as I do. The problem is...

Most trash bags are either way too big to be used in a car, or the smaller sized ones are very flimsy, and tend to tear easily & leak.

ZIPLOC bags (even the cheap off-brand variety) work AWESOME as small trash cans!

I use these quite often, and they're a great solution. I highly recommend the one-gallon size as these are perfect for keeping in your car - not too small or big.

All of my waste goes into these, and I then dispose of the baggies daily, at any regular trash container outside of a convenience store, fast food place, etc.


If you don't have ZIPLOC bags (or don't want to buy them), just save the plastic bags after your supermarket shopping is done. A few of these bags can be squashed up very tight into a small ball, and wedged anyplace inside of your vehicle for when you need them. Free is always good.


This car life hack is EXTREMELY important, as it relates to personal safety.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where bad things sometimes happen. It can be at home, work, and yes, even while you're in your vehicle.

While products like pepper spray, tasers, and other items are available to buy, these can be pricey. Not only that, but having these gadgets on-hand and ready to use at a moments notice isn't always possible. Fortunately however...

We usually have our car keys on us at all times, or they're fairly close by.

Most key fobs have an alarm or panic button. If you're ever in your car while something bad is going down, DON'T HESITATE TO USE IT!

Most thieves and other crooks hate loud noises, as it brings unwanted attention to their evil deeds. They will almost always quickly flee the scene if an alarm is activated. This is a fact.

This practical solution isn't just free, it can also protect you from harm or save your life.


When parked or idled in your car for longer periods - parking lots, residential streets, rest stops, etc. - ALWAYS be sure to lock your doors and have your windows fully up or just slightly cracked. This will prevent a crook from reaching into your vehicle to snatch your purse or other belongings, as well as someone opening your door, forcing you out of the car and stealing it.


Great options for keeping your food warm all day. Or your drinks ice cold in the summer.

This car life hack is EXCELLENT for those (like me) who live in their vehicle. Even if you don't though, there are many times that you're away from home but still crave a hot meal for lunch or dinner.

Without a microwave or oven, how will you accomplish this? Here's the solution!

Many people don't know that thermoses can be used to store foods other than liquids. Matter of fact, a thermos can keep foods hot (or cold) for up to 8 or 9 hours, depending on the size, brand, etc.

This hack was a GODSEND when I first started living in my car. Lacking a camping stove, and without a microwave in my vehicle (obviously), I was still able to enjoy a hot meal anytime I wanted.

Just head to the deli section of a supermarket in the morning, and buy any of the items listed below (or any others you'd like) from their pre-made offerings or steam-tray buffet area. They sell rotisserie chickens as well as a large variety of pre-made foods. Only purchase portions that can fit into a thermos. If a food you choose isn't sold hot, most deli departments can heat it up in their microwave.

After you buy your food, place it into the thermos as soon as possible and cover it tightly. You now have a piping hot meal that you can feast on at lunch or dinnertime!

Here's just a few (of the many) types of food you can store in a thermos...

  • Soups

  • Stews

  • Mac & Cheese (or other pastas like; rigatoni, cavatelli, ditalini, pastina, ziti, etc.)

  • Shredded chicken pieces

  • Rice (even with veggies or shredded pork/chicken)

  • Sausages or hot dogs

  • Dumplings


Purchase a thermos (like the one pictured below) with a "wide mouth", as it will allow you to insert solid foods into the container more easily. This Thermos 47 qt. Stainless King Food Jar even comes with 2 food canisters that nest directly inside the container.
Find out how to prepare QUICK meals cheap & easy! Read my popular article: TOP 5 Car Camping Food Hacks.


If you live in a car, chances are that you also work in the vehicle quite frequently, especially at night. Or, maybe like me, your prefer to read books and other periodicals in the evenings.

Instead of using the dome light or other interior lights, which can kill your car's battery if left on too long while the vehicle isn't started, just get a couple of cheap tap lights at any dollar store!

Pop a few batteries in them, and stick them anywhere in your car. They last a long, long time. And the peace-of-mind you'll gain by not having to worry about a dead battery after prolonged usage, is well worth it.


The adhesive on the back of most tap lights isn't the strongest. You're better off using velcro or some other type of tape that's more durable and sticks better.


Don't hesitate to buy the cheap brands, they work just as well.

Ok, this car life hack is #1 for a reason. It works really well! And it'll remove even the worst of smells from your car.


  • Simply pour 2 or 3 cups of vinegar into a bowl or other container, and place it somewhere level in your vehicle overnight without covering the container. On the floor of the vehicle or upon the dashboard are great spots.

  • Remove the bowl the next day and any odors should be gone.

  • (Optional) If you're dealing with an extremely bad or stubborn smell, you might have to repeat this for an extra night or two. However, one night is usually enough to eliminate even the funkiest of scents.

  • If you know the source of the odor, try placing the bowl as close to it as possible.


If you don't have vinegar, or simply wish not to use it, try a bag of charcoal briquettes instead. Just leave the bag - unopened - in your car overnight. Due to their very porous nature, charcoal briquettes can absorb any unpleasant odors. You can even use the charcoal to barbeque in the future, as it will still work as intended.



I absolutely hate dirty, crusty cupholders! Maybe it's my OCD, but I'm sure many others feel the same.

An easy, cheap way to help prevent this, is to place paper or silicone baking cups inside the holders.

These will help sop up any liquids, in addition to containing any crumbs or other debris. You can even layer 2 or 3 on top of each other for added protection.

This simple solution works incredibly well. Imagine your cupholders looking like the photo above, to this...


If you buy the silicone baking cups, you can wash them out when dirty and re-use again and again.

I hope you enjoyed this list of car life hacks. Aside from making life more convenient, they'll also help you stretch a buck, since all of these DIY projects are fairly inexpensive.

If you try any of these out, or would like to share your own hacks, leave your thoughts in the comments section.

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