30 Expensive Mistakes You Don't Realize You're Making With Your Car

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I don’t know about you, but I think a car is more than just a vehicle that takes you from point A to point B — it’s a trusted companion. That’s why it’s so important to treat it well. However, sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to do to keep your car in shape, especially when vehicle maintenance can seems so expensive and confusing. Luckily, there are tons of useful car accessories that will keep you from making any mistakes. That means your vehicle will continue to look amazing and work like a dream — which will save you money in the long run.

Keeping your car looking shiny and fresh sounds daunting, but it’s actually quite simple. Just invest in a liquid car polish — it’s budget-friendly, can be applied in your driveway with your own two hands, and you only need to use it once a year. Or, this car detailing kit comes with everything you need to get both the interior and exterior squeaky clean, without a high price tag. With many recommendations backed by experts, these genius car products will help you avoid any costly errors.


Mistake: Not Checking Your Tire Pressure

Solution: Using This Digital Pressure Gauge & Inflation Tool

David Clelland, founder of Infiniti Vehicle Tracking, recommends checking tire pressure every month to make sure they’re not under- or over-inflated. “You don’t want one of your tires to blow out when you’re on the highway with no help around,” says Clelland. “An easy fix for this mistake is to get your own pressure gauge, so you can check the pressure of your car at any time.” This handheld pressure gauge gives an accurate reading within seconds, and it also has the handy ability to inflate or deflate your tire to its optimal level.


Mistake: Letting The Paint Go Dull

Solution: Applying This Polish To Your Car Once A Year

Over time, wear and corrosion can cause your car’s paint to look less than fresh. That’s why using a car polish — such as this one from Nu Finish — is a good idea if you’re looking to bring some shine back to your car’s exterior. A great way to restore luster to top coats, car polish isn’t harsh and safe for DIY use. You only have to apply this wallet-friendly treatment once a year, and the results are well worth it.


Mistake: Not Protecting Your Car’s Paint

Solution: Spraying On This Ceramic Coating

If you want to add some serious shine and protection to your car’s exterior, you can upgrade to a ceramic vehicle coating, such as this spray-on formula. It acts as a waterless car wash, eliminating dirt and grime on the spot. A ceramic coating will also protect the underlying paint surface from salt, tree sap, acid rain, and UV rays, all of which can otherwise cause damage and devalue your vehicle

  • Available sizes: 8 ounces, 16 ounces


Mistake: Washing Your Car Without The Proper Equipment

Solution: Using These Absorbent Microfiber Towels

You can totally wash your car at home, but it really helps to have the right equipment, so you don’t end up damaging your vehicle’s exterior. According to Phillip Villegas, certified auto expert for Three Pedal Mafia, you should “make or invest in the proper car-washing equipment” before getting started. A good place to start? These soft microfiber towels that are super absorbent, less abrasive than standard towels, and won’t leave lint behind.

  • Available multipacks: 6-pack, 12-pack


Mistake: Taking Your Car To Get Professionally Detailed

Solution: Utilizing This All-In-One Detailing Kit

Another thing to consider when washing your car at home is how you’re going to get all those hard-to-reach places, including your car’s interior. “You don't want to wash your automobile badly because you're ill-equipped,” says Villegas. This car wash detailing kit includes everything you need to fully clean your car, including a microfiber mitt, squeegee, cleaning gel, and an air conditioning vent brush. Your car will look great, and you’ll save money on a professional detail job.


Mistake: Immediately Taking Your Car To A Garage When A Dash Light Comes On

Solution: Evaluating The Problem With This Diagnostic Scanner

It’s normal to panic a little when a dashboard light flashes on, but it doesn’t always mean something’s seriously wrong. “A lot of the time the lights on the dash may only be a minor issue, even the check engine light,” says Jack Mitchell, off-road enthusiast and blogger at Overland Terrain. “A simple 2 OBD2 (on-board diagnostic) scanner from Amazon can easily diagnose the issue and let you know if it is a small problem or not.” If you just need to reset the light, the scanner is also capable of doing that.


Mistake: Not Protecting The Backs Of Your Seats From Kicking Feet

Solution: Hanging These Protective Kick Mats

Toddlers and young children have a tendency to kick the seats in front of them, but luckily you can protect your seat backs with these rubber mats that snap onto the headrests. The waterproof covers keep your seats free of dirt, mud, scratches, and shoe prints, while a pair of built-in pockets provides a spot for small essentials.

  • Available colors: Black, Gray


Mistake: Leaving Trash All Over Your Car

Solution: Throwing Garbage Inside This Leakproof Bin

You can attach this trash can onto your headrest, side door, or console, creating a designated spot to toss your garbage, which means dirt and crumbs won’t get ground into the carpet or upholstery. Complete with a set of 20 plastic liners, the 2-gallon bin is made out of a leakproof, durable polyester that’s easy to clean. A mesh side pocket provides some extra storage space for cleaning wipes or tissues.

  • Available colors: Black, Gray/Black, Gray


Mistake: Not Caring For Plastic Or Vinyl Surfaces

Solution: Applying This Plastic Restorer To Trim, The Bumper & Dash

Safe for interior and exterior use, this restoring treatment can renew your car’s plastic, rubber, or vinyl surfaces. Offering UV protection, the water-repelling sealant stands up to both rainy and sunny weather. It’ll protect your car’s fender, bumper, trim, and dashboard against fading and drying over time, and you only need to apply it once every several months.


Mistake: Spending Money To Get Your Wheels Professionally Cleaned

Solution: Using This Rotating Brush Attachment On Your Hose

Spending a lot of money on a professional wheel cleaning isn’t necessary, as long as you’ve got this rotating brush that attaches to the end of your hose. Effectively scrubbing away grime and grease, the wheel brush is completely water-powered. The spinning motion allows the brush to cut through dried dirt, while the long bristles help you reach those small crevices.


Mistake: Washing Your Wheels With Just Soap & Water

Solution: Spraying On This Effective Wheel Cleaner

If there’s a lot of grease or wax buildup on your car’s wheels, regular old soap and water might not get the job done. This wheel and tire cleaner from Adam’s Polishes is specifically designed to break down dirt and residue, so you can get a streak-free shine. The alkaline formula is effective on both metal and rubber, and is safe on clear- and powder-coated wheels.


Mistake: Traveling With Your Pet Without Covering Your Back Seat

Solution: Protecting The Seats With This Sturdy Cover

Most dogs tend to shed, which can result in a back seat covered in stray hairs, and they can also leave behind mud, sand, dirt, and claw scratches. Made from durable and waterproof Oxford cloth, this durable seat cover will create a sturdy barrier between your pet and your back seat’s leather or upholstery. It attaches to the headrests for quick and easy installation.

  • Available sizes: Standard, X-Large
  • Available colors: 4


Mistake: Letting Your Dashboard Fade In The Sun

Solution: Shielding The Interior With This UV-Blocking Shade

When the sun’s UV rays beam down on your car for long periods of time, it can damage your vehicle’s interior. An easy fix? This sun-protective shade made from reflective material. You’ll also notice that using this shade will reduce your car’s interior temperature, so it’s not so unbearably hot when you first sit inside.

  • Available sizes: Small — XX-Large


Mistake: Neglecting Your Car’s Leather Interior

Solution: Using This Cleaner & Conditioner Set On Leather Surfaces

Caring for your car’s leather interior is easy with this cleaner and conditioner set from Chemical Guys. The gentle yet effective cleaning formula removes dirt and oils from your leather seats and steering wheels, while the conditioner uses vitamin E to nourish the leather and protect it from UV damage.


Mistake: Paying For Headlight Restoration

Solution: Sanding & Polishing Your Headlights With This Restoration Kit

Complete with masking tape, sanding discs, and wax protectant, this restoration kit will have your cloudy headlight lenses looking good as new. The kit is designed to remove yellowing and buildup without damaging the plastic lens surface, so you can skip the expensive task of getting them restored professionally.


Mistake: Leaving Crumbs & Dirt On Your Car Floor

Solution: Regularly Cleaning With This Handheld Vacuum

George Bates, Digital Marketing Executive at Cargiant, encourages car owners to keep up on their vehicle’s cleanliness, as it adds to your car’s value. Weighing just 2.4 pounds, this compact vacuum cleaner is perfect for sucking up dust, crumbs, and pet hair from your car’s interior. Complete with three cleaning attachments and a 16-foot power cord, the vacuum can easily scoop up debris from the hard-to-reach corners of your car. There’s even a built-in LED light, so you can get a good view of dark spaces. Simply plug it into your car’s 12-volt auxiliary outlet and get cleaning.


Mistake: Not Patching Holes Or Rips In Leather & Vinyl

Solution: Repairing Holes With This Leather & Vinyl Kit

Equipped with 10 mixable shades of repair compounds, this vinyl and leather repair kit makes it easy to patch up rips, holes, and cracks in your car’s interior, whether they’re on your leather seats or the dash. Simply mix the colors in the included jar until you reach your desired shade, then apply the compound using the brush. Once it dries, the surface will look good as new.


Mistake: Allowing Dust To Gather In Your Car’s Crevices

Solution: Applying This Cleaning Gel To Your Air Vents & Cupholders

This sticky, bright blue cleaning gel is a genius hack for getting dust and grime out of your car’s air vents, cupholders, and other tiny spaces. Simply knead the gel into a ball and press it into any crevice, wait a few seconds, and pull it out again. The gooey substance lifts the dirt and debris, leaving behind a smooth, clean surface.


Mistake: Letting Stains Settle Into Your Carpet Or Upholstery

Solution: Spraying This Powerful Deep-Cleaning Formula

A powerful, effective way to remove stains from your car’s interior, this fabric and carpet cleaner from Armor All really gets the job done. It uses oxygen action to dissolve tough food and dirt messes, so you can easily wipe them off your leather or cloth upholstery. “The results are amazing and the seats look like new,” one reviewer raved.


Mistake: Having Groceries Spill All Over Your Floor

Solution: Adding This Durable Organizer To Your Trunk

Made from durable 600-denier Oxford canvas, this trunk organizer features adjustable compartments and multiple mesh pockets that can hold your groceries, so they don’t tip over and spill all over your car interior. Also ideal for sports equipment and other essentials, it securely fastens to your back seat or the anchor points in your trunk, and when it’s not in use, it can be folded up for easy storage.

  • Available colors: Black, Gray, Tan


Mistake: Losing Small Items Between Your Seat Cracks

Solution: Placing These Gap Fillers Between Your Seats

Loose change, bits of food, and other small items can sink between your car seat’s cracks if you’re not careful. Not only will use lose parking meter money, but those food bits can degrade your car’s interior. Thankfully, these seat gap fillers prevent this from ever happening. Each one attaches to your seat belt catch, covering the space between your seat and the center console. The flexible neoprene material expands or contracts to fit perfectly.


Mistake: Not Protecting Your Car From The Elements

Solution: Using This Weatherproof Cover

Windproof, waterproof, and tear-resistant, this car cover shields your vehicle from the elements in both rainy and sunny conditions. Just as good, it also protects the exterior from being covered in tree sap or bird droppings, so your car won’t need to be washed as often. Choose from several different sizes to find the one that’s suitable for your vehicle.

  • Available sizes: 20
  • Available colors: Silver, Blue, Orange


Mistake: Backing Into Something Because You Didn’t See It

Solution: Installing This Backup Camera & Dash Monitor

You don’t need a fancy new vehicle model to have a backup camera in your car — you just need to invest in this easy-to-install camera kit. Complete with a waterproof lens and a monitor that mounts to your windshield or dashboard, the setup will help you see what’s behind you while backing out of driveways and parking spaces — no more fender benders.


Mistake: Letting Takeout Bags Tip Over While Driving

Solution: Adding These Hanging Hooks To Your Headrests

Keep your takeout bags from spilling over while you’re driving by hanging them on these storage hooks. Each hook attaches to your car seat’s headrest, holding up to 44 pounds each. They can be placed on the front or back of your seat, depending on your preference, and they’re also useful for purses and umbrellas. If you want to add a little sparkle to your car, there’s even a bedazzled option.

  • Available colors: 2


Mistake: Spilling Your Lunch All Over Your Car

Solution: Setting Up This Steering Wheel Table

Need to eat in your car between errands or on a road trip? This steering wheel desk is great to have on hand, and will minimize the chances of spilling. It clips onto the front of the wheel, creating a platform for you to rest your food, and even includes a cupholder for a beverage. You can also flip it over and use the other side as a desk — it’s designed with a small compartment for your writing utensil.


Mistake: Holding Your Drink Because It Doesn’t Fit In The Cupholder

Solution: Using This Car Cupholder Expander

If you carry around a large travel mug or Hydroflask, it might not fit in your car’s cupholder — resulting in a possible mess if you end up holding it between your legs. “A quick, easy, and inexpensive solution to this is to purchase a car cupholder expander, which securely is placed in your cupholder and provides a wider area for you to fit your larger mugs in,” says Kyle MacDonald, Director of Operations at Force by Mojo GPS fleet tracking. This cupholder expander can hold bottles up to 40 ounces in capacity, or cups from 3 inches to 3.8 inches in diameter.

  • Available colors: Black, Pink


Mistake: Not Cleaning The Car Battery

Solution: Using This Brush To Remove Dirt & Corrosion

A buildup of corrosion on your car’s battery can cause complications, so it’s a good idea to give it a regular checkup. “Your vehicle isn’t going anywhere if its battery fails, so take the time for a quick visual inspection and some occasional cleaning of this vital car component,” says Tony Rens, founder of Motor Spider. “Use a wire brush and corrosion removal fluid from an automotive supplies retailer to clean up the corrosive material from the battery’s terminals.” This cleaning device includes an external brush for cable clamps and an internal brush for terminal posts.


Mistake: Failing To Prevent Battery Corrosion

Solution: Brushing On This Battery Corrosion Preventative

Following Rens’ advice, brushing on this corrosion preventative to your car’s battery will ensure that it works over long periods of time. The oil-based formula shields and protects your battery, which leads to an improved battery life and increased starting power. With an overall 4.8-star rating on Amazon, it’s clear this stuff really works.


Mistake: Not Protecting Cupholders From Messy Drinks

Solution: Placing These Coasters Inside Your Cupholders

These car cupholder coasters are made from absorbent ceramic, so they soak up any excess moisture dripping from your cup (hello, iced coffee). Each one is designed with a nonslip cork base that rests inside your car’s cupholder. Finished with an abstract design, the coasters add a touch of style to your car as well.

  • Available multipacks: 2-Pack, 6-Pack


Mistake: Letting The Contents Of Your Purse Spill Out On The Floor

Solution: Placing Your Purse In This Holding Net

Have you ever made a sharp turn and watched the contents of your purse spill all over the floor? The Car Cache net bag solves this problem instantly. Just attach the mesh pouch to your car seat’s headrests let it hang in between the seats like a hammock. Not only that, but it’s way better to keep expensive handbags up and off the floor to keep them from getting dirty. Once you place your purse inside, you’ll still have easy access to it while driving.