Skip to main content

TikTok Car Repair Hacks You Should and Should Not Do

Should you try this hack…or not? Here are some crazy and some not so crazy car repair related hacks you might have heard about, but not tried…yet.

If you ever work on cars as a DIY mechanic, sooner or later someone (9 times out of 10 it’s your neighbor) will suggest a car repair hack they heard about…or knows this guy who knows a guy who swears by the hack as a solution for your car repair problem.

But should you try it? The best laid plans of mice and men and all that.

Are Car Repair Hacks Ever a Good Idea?

When it comes to hacks that have anything to do with your car, the litmus test for car owners should be whether or not they understand why and how a hack works…or doesn’t…before taking a chance on causing some damage to your car or just making things worse.

For example, there are many examples of useful (and safe) car hacks such as those from an informative article from the Moneywise dot com site that shows car owners how that maintaining your car doesn’t have to be an expensive hassle when using reasonable and clever hacks as part of your vehicle’s cosmetic maintenance while saving money at the same time.

There are also those hacks that whether out of laziness, a lack of pride in their ride, or a strange sense of humor, some car owners try until the police pull them over for a vehicle safety violation. For example, the Postfun dot com website has this article about Redneck Hacks that are enough to make you both cringe and feel slightly superior at the same time.

My favorite one is where a truck owner uses a log as the front bumper on his Ford truck.

Bad Car Hacks You Should Never Do

But the worst of all are some car repair hacks that despite sounding too good to be true, some car owners will still resort to in a pinch to either make a repair task easier or save money on a repair by avoiding buying the right tool for the job. For example, using a long pipe for added leverage on a ratchet is rarely ever a good idea.

And then, there are the dangerous hacks that involve using a tool for a job it was not designed for. Or almost any hack that involves fire. Both will eventually result in loss of limb or life. I once saw a classmate in an auto repair class using a screwdriver as a pry tool on the rear drum brake springs where the spring broke and he inadvertently stabbed himself up the nose with his screwdriver.

In short, as I said earlier the litmus test for using any hack is that of whether you understand why and how a hack works before even thinking about attempting it.

Common DIY Car Hacks You Should Avoid

Here are six common DIY car repair hacks that you should avoid, but are ones you see and hear about every day:

1. Using Duct Tape or Zip Ties for Everything: While duct tape is versatile and can be useful for temporary fixes, it should not be used as a long-term solution for repairing critical components like hoses, belts, or body panels. It can deteriorate quickly under heat and pressure, leading to further damage or safety hazards; Same thing goes for zip tie car fixes.

2. Using Bungee Cords for a Repair: Used improperly, bungee cords do slip or snap and can make at least one end an airborne eye gouging hazard…literally in the blink of an eye.  

3. Using Tap Water as Car Coolant: In an emergency situation where you're stranded and need to temporarily cool down an overheating engine, pouring water into the radiator can help. However, using water as a long-term coolant replacement is not advisable. Water lacks the additives and corrosion inhibitors present in coolant, which can lead to rust, corrosion, and engine damage over time. In addition, tap water is often high in minerals which can lead to premature clogging of your radiator.

4. Using Fix-a-Flat for Tire Repair: Fix-a-Flat and similar tire sealant products can be useful for temporarily sealing punctures in an emergency. However, they should not be used as a permanent solution. These products can cause damage to the tire's internal structure and may make it difficult for a professional to properly repair the tire later on because of the mess that will likely cause him to say the tire is irreparable.

5. Using Foil for Your Car’s Electrical System: Some people suggest using aluminum foil to bridge electrical connections, repair wiring, or use it on battery posts to make a tighter fit between the batter cable connector and the battery posts. This is a dangerous practice as foil is not designed to handle electrical currents safely. It can lead to short circuits, electrical fires, or damage to sensitive electronic components in your vehicle.

6. DIY Brake Repairs Without Proper Knowledge: Brakes are a critical safety component of your vehicle, and attempting to repair or replace brake components without proper knowledge and experience can be extremely dangerous; This includes bleeding your brake lines and adding new fluid. Improperly serviced brakes can lead to brake failure, loss of control, and accidents.

7. Using the Wrong Oil or Fluids: Using the wrong type of oil or fluids in your car can cause serious damage to the engine, transmission, or other components. Always consult your vehicle's manual or a qualified mechanic to ensure you're using the correct oil viscosity, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, etc. For example, older cars used to use the same fluid that went into the transmission…but not today. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual.

In short, if you are unsure about a repair or maintenance procedure, it's best to seek professional help rather than attempting a risky DIY hack your neighbor recommended.

Do you have any favorite car repair hacks that you do or know? Let us know in the comments section below, please. Click on the Add New Comment red link below.

That said, here is an informative Real Mechanic Stuff YouTube video that shows some useful and some not-so-useful if not potentially harmful car repair hacks reviewed by these mechanics:

Mechanics React to More Awful TikTok Repair Hacks

For more about DIY car repairs you can do, here are a few for your consideration:

Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites  and Facebook for daily news and topics related to new and used cars and trucks.

COMING UP NEXT: Are Toyota Hybrids More Reliable Than Regular Gasoline Toyota Models?

Image source: Deposit Photos