Car Secrets Only The Most Experienced Drivers Know

Here are some truly fascinating car secrets only the most experienced drivers know!

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From secret concealed vehicle tools and features to the real truth about red cars, buckle up, rev that engine as we delve into some of the craziest car secrets that only the most experienced drivers know.

Your Head Can Increase the Range of Your Key Fob

Every driver’s been there. You’re in a crowded parking lot and forgot where you parked your car. You try pushing the button on your key fob, hoping it’ll light the way, but the car is too far away for it to work.

You could spend the next hour frantically racing up and down hundreds of cars, furiously clicking the button. Or you could use your brain. You may have heard the rumored trick that you can create a range boost by using your own head like an antenna.

Range boosting  with your brain to find you car

Car key fobs are essentially short range radio transmitters that use radio frequencies to send a signal to a receiver unit that’s wired inside the car. Fobs perform that function via a built in radio frequency identification system known as RFID which utilizes an electromagnetic field to identify the car it’s meant to be interacting with.

Generally, car key fobs can lock or unlock a car from around 30 feet away before they stop working. But it’s been proven that holding your fob against your head can increase its signal range to up to 85 feet and beyond. But what is that magic?

Up to 85% of the human brain is comprised of water, which is very helpful in conducting electromagnetic waves like those used by key fobs. The electromagnetic signal from the fob interacts with the water molecules in your head and causes them to resonate. That resonation, or synchronized vibration, causes the electromagnetic waves from the fob to take on a greater amplitude, amplifying them and increasing their range.

Although zapping electromagnetic waves through your brain might sound dangerous, small key fobs like those used for cars don’t generate nearly enough power to be harmful. While some folks think we may all become robotic cyborgs someday, those nifty car manufacturers are probably trying to give us a hint that we’re already there.

While just a small, inconspicuous piece of plastic on the surface, key fobs are hiding more than just secret brainwave power. While keyless entry to cars has become the norm, have you ever stopped to wonder just what you’d do if you found yourself locked out of your car with a dead key fob with drained batteries? Well, check out the video below.

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Turns out, many car manufacturers install a spare traditional key right inside the fobs for their cars, just in case.

Are Red Cars More Expensive To Insure?

When buying a car, there’s a lot to consider. What features does it have? How does the engine run? How many seats does it have? And most importantly, what color? While many drivers consider choosing the color of their new car the most fun part of the process, it turns out, the car colors you choose may also be a factor in the way you’re treated on the road.

According to various insurance surveys, more than 44% of Americans believe that driving a red car will land you with a more expensive insurance bill. Not only that, many folks believe that drivers of red cars are seen being pulled over more than any other car color. So, are those common beliefs really true? Well, not exactly.

While it’s unclear exactly when or where red cars first got their unseemly reputation, there are some clues that might help piece together the answer to that mystery. Some people think that the red car conundrum might come down to plain old color psychology. Red is the universal language for danger, and not only that but it’s also one of the most eye catching colors out there.

That might explain why drivers report seeing more red cars being pulled over compared to other, less eye catching colors. In fact, though, it’s white cars that are pulled over the most, with red cars in second place!

Red car pulled over by police

Drivers are often extra vigilant to the color red as red road signs are usually meant to warn drivers of potential dangers ahead. Red is also linked with aggression and impulsivity, which aren’t traits you’d usually associate with a responsible driver.

In reality, the color of your car has no bearing on how much your car insurance costs. When reviewing an application, insurance companies determine the price of an insurance plan based on several factors completely unrelated to your color preferences.

The make and model, driver history and how often the car is driven are the most important things that will help insurance companies work out how likely drivers are to get involved in a road incident.

While it’s untrue that red car drivers are slapped with a higher insurance bill because of the color, the type of paint can play a role. Premium paints with metallic or pearlescent finishes are often more expensive than standard paints, meaning they cost more for insurers to repaint over scratches or damage in the event of a claim, resulting in a higher overall insurance premium.

That’s probably one way to keep custom Nyan cat cars like the one in the image below off the roads, which is a true crime against Ferrari.

nyan cat car

Is Gasoline More Dense In The Morning?

While driving on the open road can be a freeing experience, stopping to fill up at a gas station can be a bleak reminder that freedom costs money, gas money. Frequent drivers are always looking for ways to save a few dimes when it comes to car related costs.

But there are some out there that think they’ve cracked the code to getting cheaper gas. Many drivers believe that stopping by the gas station in the morning allows you to get more gas for less, which could be a gamechanger if true, but is it?

Like all liquids, gasoline expands when heated. So, theory is that if you fill up a car in colder temperatures, when the molecules are more compact, you’ll be able to fit a larger amount of fuel in your tank for the same cost.

gas pump car

Generally speaking, the coolest time of day happens early in the morning, within an hour or two of sunrise, and those two facts result in what we’re going to call the morning gas hack. While it does make a lot of sense in theory, there is one particular flaw with that idea.

While the science is largely correct, gas stations store their fuel in underground tanks. Those tanks are very well insulated, meaning that generally the temperature and price of the fuel pumping into your car stays the same no matter the time of day.

Not only that, but drivers who believe filling up in the morning keeps their wallets full may be likely to waste more fuel by driving out of their way to the gas station in the cooler mornings. In colder environments, it takes longer for your car engine to reach its most fuel efficient temperature. Cooler, denser air also increases the aerodynamic drag on your car, using up even more fuel.

Is The Other Lane Always Faster?

When it comes to life on the road, there’s nothing more frustrating than hitting highway traffic. Every driver asks themselves the same question: “is the lane next to me moving faster?” While you’d think that changing over to the faster moving lane would help you beat the traffic, that is a great big mistake.

Highway experts have found that cars that continuously change lanes in traffic actually spend more time being passed by other cars than they do overtaking them. In fact, remaining in the same lane will see you arrive at the same time as those who dodge through traffic and it’ll be significantly less stressful.

But how is that possible? It sounds pretty counterintuitive, but there’s actually some reasoning behind it, only if you’re in gridlocked, slow moving traffic. That highway phenomenon comes down to an optical illusion created by the spacing between cars in different lanes.

Lane changing won't make you faster

Researchers at the University of Toronto found that, in stop start traffic, drivers inclined to change lanes as often as possible would steer into open spaces in other lanes when they opened up, based on the assumption that the new lane was consistently faster each time.

However, the appearance of a faster lane would often prove short lived, with the lane usually slowing down to a halt soon after, and would result in more stop start driving that ultimately saw the steady stream of cars in the slower lane eventually catch up.

In simulated traffic experiments, researchers found that stop start factor meant that, on average, lane switchers and lane stayers actually arrived at their destination at about the same time! But that traffic dilemma can cause very real problems for highway drivers, whether they’re lane changers or not.

Drivers who change lanes too frequently can inadvertently force everyone else to slow down. Known as phantom traffic jams, those are caused by varying acceleration and deceleration of vehicles up ahead, which creates a ripple effect, causing traffic further down the road to eventually come to a stop.

phantom traffic jams

So, just remember, being an aggressive lane changer can make you a real pain for your fellow drivers! It’s important to note, however, that most of what we’ve just discussed only really applies in gridlocked, slow traffic.

If you’re on an open highway with few cars around, driving over the limit in the fast lane is always going to get you there quicker, albeit with an increased risk of danger. But if you’re stuck in a gridlocked jam that seemingly has no cause at all, your best bet is to stay in your lane if you want to avoid frustration.

Why Seat Belts Have an Extra Loop of Fabric

It’s one of the most integral safety features in a car, but how often do you stop to really take a look at your seatbelt? Most car passengers may not even have noticed that seatbelts have a bit of extra fabric attached to them.

While you might assume that is just a way to use up some left over material, it’s actually one of the seatbelt’s most important safety features. That loop is called an energy management loop, and it’s specifically designed to absorb some of the impact in a crash scenario.

seatbelt energy management loop

During a collision, seatbelts undergo extreme stress as momentum carries the passenger forward, which causes the threading in the loop to rip open. That gives the passenger a few extra inches of seatbelt, which doesn’t just prevent an extreme, whiplash inducing jerk motion, but also minimizes the chances of the entire seatbelt ripping apart.

Seeing as that loop is there for the safety of passengers, it might seem surprising to find that there isn’t one on the driver’s belt. On the driver’s side, the lack of loop is just as much as safety consideration. Front and rear passengers have more room to fall forward in an accident, so the extra inches provided by the loop won’t be a danger.

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However, it’s possible that with the extra inches provided by the energy management loop, those in the driver’s seat could be at a greater risk of colliding with the steering wheel, so a loop is not used for the driver. While many modern cars have that setup, it’s not the case for all vehicles, so don’t worry if your car is designed a little differently.

What the driver’s seat does have in common with other car seatbelts is the small plastic button attached to it. Called a seatbelt stopper, that little tab works by preventing the buckle from sliding too far down the belt when unplugged, which eliminates the frustration of fishing around for a lost buckle.

seat belt stopper

Check Engine Light

One of every driver’s worst nightmares, the appearance of the dreaded check engine light is a sure fire way to cut the brakes on your on the road fun.

Experienced drivers probably know that the check engine light is attached to what’s known as the onboard diagnostics system, or OBD, a car’s onboard computer that monitors the performance of almost every component of the vehicle. But what they may not realize is that, in a standard car, there can be up to 1,400 reasons for the check engine light to appear.

OBD system

The OBD system triggers a warning light when it senses a potential problem, and while serious issues require the professional opinion of a mechanic, one of the most common reasons comes down to a mistake a lot of drivers make at the gas station.

Modern cars are fitted with what’s known as an evaporative emissions control system, or EVAP. That system recirculates harmful gas vapors from fuel, preventing them from escaping into the atmosphere before they’re burned up in the engine.

The EVAP system needs to stay airtight, so if a driver doesn’t screw their gas cap back on properly after filling up, it can trigger a release of vapor when the car is on the move again. To prevent that, an improperly screwed on gas cap will cause your ‘check engine’ light to come on.

These days, some modern cars even have a specifically designed "check gas cap" alert to make it even easier for drivers to identify this common issue. Some others even have special features that make drivers less likely to lose or forget their gas cap, like the built in cap holder for a more handsfree gas station experience.

gas cap holder

While a loose gas cap is one of the most common reasons for an illuminated check engine light, it’s definitely not the only reason. So, make sure to drive safely and alert your mechanic to any concerns you might have.

Clean Car vs Dirty Car

Any proud gearhead loves nothing more than keeping their car clean, and it’s a good thing too, as most experts recommend washing your car around every two weeks to keep it in tip top condition.

However, while it might sound crazy, there are some car owners out there that think that is a great big mistake. Word on the mean streets is that dirty cars actually perform better than clean cars. But how could that be?

dirty car

The theory goes that dirty cars are more fuel efficient than clean cars as the dirt on them makes the car more aerodynamic, therefore using less fuel despite driving at the same speed. That idea is known as the golf ball effect, which describes the way that objects can actually reduce drag thanks to textured surfaces.

If a smooth ball flies through the air, a cone shaped wake of low pressure air is left behind it, which increases drag, making it harder to accelerate. Golf balls, however, are specifically designed with a dimpled surface because the indentations cause a more chaotic flow of air, reducing the wake it leaves behind it, decreasing its drag.

Golf balls indentations cause more speed

In fact, it's been proven that dimpled balls can fly almost twice as far as smooth balls. With that in mind, you can see why dirty car owners may believe that the extra texture provided by the dirt and grime on their cars could improve aerodynamics. However, in reality, dirty cars can achieve quite the opposite.

While the dust and dirt that makes its way onto a car is dispersed largely at random, the position of a golf ball’s dimples are painstakingly deliberate so as to maximize aerodynamic efficiency. What’s more, a car is already designed to be as streamlined a possible for its specific shape requirements, meaning a few random bits of dirt will negatively impact its drag reducing design features.

So, while the theory is plausible, it would probably only work if a car was covered in the same dimples as those found on a golf ball. Overall, cars that are cleaned on a regular basis with a smooth surface have been found to improve fuel efficiency by around two miles per gallon compared to dirty cars.

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Easter Eggs In Cars

If you’re a gearhead, you probably think you know your car like the back of your hand. But what you might not know is that you could easily be missing out on some extra design features that car manufacturers don’t tell you about.

While many of those auto easter eggs are purely for aesthetics, there are many hidden features out there that can brighten even the rainiest days. Skoda drivers, for example, have nothing to fear from an unexpected downpour thanks to the hidden umbrella in the Fabia, Superb, and Scala models.

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They’re also covered when it comes to frostier elements too as many Skoda models also have a built in ice scraper hidden on the inside of their gas tank door. Even better, British car manufacturer, Vauxhall, added retractable license plate drawer to their early 2000s Corsa vehicles.

Rather than having to add a cumbersome metal frame to the car if you need to take your bicycle somewhere, the Flexi fit system slides out of the license plate and can hold two bicycles.

Sticking with vehicular derrières, if you’re a proud Volkswagen Polo owner you might not have realized that the handy parking camera in newer models is actually hidden behind the VW logo on the back! Even if you can’t find the easter eggs hidden around your ride, there are other ways you can pimp it up to hide your very own extra features.

There are a whole lot of accessories you can get your hands on to make your ride the ultimate convenience on wheels. But the cream of the crop of hidden car features has to be Nissan’s coveted curry hook, which boasts the very specific ability to save your seats from the bottoms of greasy takeout bags.

Nissan curry hook

Motion Parallax

The average American spends as much as 17,600 minutes in a car every year. While that’s certainly a lot of time, there’s something that most folks probably haven’t paid attention to in a single one of those minutes, and yet drivers experience it all the time.

Try to imagine that, you’re sitting in a car and looking out of the window. As the car moves forward, you notice that objects closer to you appear to pass by quickly, whereas objects further away appear to move more slowly and sometimes not at all.

That kind of depth perception trickery is known as motion parallax, a psychological and ocular phenomenon that plays a big role when it comes to how drivers perceive their own speed.

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In fact, researchers have discovered that truck drivers and other tall vehicle drivers tend to drive faster than those driving souped up sports cars because of motion parallax. Because the truck driver is higher up and further away from the things passing in traffic, it will seem as though things are moving a lot slower than they actually are.

Seeing as we rely on motion parallax to perceive our own speed, that can cause the truck driver to unconsciously drive that little bit faster to make up for his perceived slowness. The opposite is true for low seated sports car drivers who, counterintuitively, have often been found to drive slower because of motion parallax.

So, the next time you see that souped up sports car driver in traffic, know that statistically, they’re some of the slowest drivers around.

Why Car Companies Still Use Clay Models

While some people simply see cars as a means to get from A to B, the more experienced drivers out there will know that a lot of thought goes into the design of every vehicle on the road. Thanks to advances in technology, car design has come along leaps and bounds since mass production began in the early 1900s.

But you might be surprised by some of the techniques designers are still using to this day. For starters, during the design phase, scale models will be built using some surprising materials, which look super peculiar to the uninitiated. For example, clay models are physical, three dimensional prototypes of cars that are made of soft malleable materials molded around a giant block of hard cheesy looking foam.

BMW car wood model filling, car prototype

That design route was first used back in the 1930s by General Motors’ leading designer Harley Earl, who was the first to turn sketches into full scale models using clay. Harley’s models revolutionized the car design industry, and for the last century, clay models have been used by just about every car manufacturer out there.

They’re not cheap either, with some models costing tens of thousands to produce due to the high quality materials and extensive man hours required to create those unusual works of functional art. But considering the major advancements in 3D imaging and even virtual reality, why are manufacturers still messing around with giant mountains of clay to design their cars?

While there’s no doubt designers can achieve amazing things with the aid of digital technology, a 3D model allows them to see, touch and evaluate designs in real life. Creating a physical clay model allows designers to get hands on with their designs and manipulate the model in real time to ensure the design is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

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Unlike digitized designs, clay models can also be useful for aerodynamic testing, where engineers evaluate a car’s drag, or how easily it passes through the air around it. After all, you won’t get a very accurate idea of how aerodynamic a car’s going to be by throwing a laptop in a wind tunnel, but a full scale model of the car can give a pretty darn good impression!

These physical models also do something that even advance computers struggle to pull off perfectly, giving an impression of what the vehicle will look like in natural light. You can take those models outside into the real world, where they’ll spend their time once they get made for real, so designers get to see how the sun will bounce off the curves, and whether the car really looks how the designers had hoped.

So, while it may seem that our world is becoming steadily more virtual, even high-tech loving car designers realize the value in reality. I hope you were amazed at these car secrets! Thanks for reading.

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