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Automotive Accessories, Tips and Tools You Need to Know About

Expert advice on repair, maintenance and gear.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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fordCourtesy of Ford

Get A Leg Up!

Newer pickups often feature built-in steps so you can easily access your pickup bed. Some steps are built into the bumper; others are part of the tailgate like the one on the Ford F-150 shown above. The steps are handy for pros and DIYers alike, especially if you have an elevated 4WD pickup. If you have an older truck, there’s no need to cry in your beer—you’ll find many aftermarket truck steps to choose from. Some bolt onto the bumper and fold up or slide out of the way under the bed; others slip into the receiver hitch and telescope or swing out when needed. You’ll find styles to help you access both the rear and the side of the bed. Just search online for “truck steps”—you’ll find something to suit your needs and the size of your wallet.

lund bedstepCourtesy of Lund

Best Aftermarket Option

This retractable Lund BedStep is just one option, but is our favorite. It is incredibly sturdy and has a simple install. There’s no need to drill into your car body to mount the step. It’s rated for 300 lbs. and costs $220 at If that seems too expensive, check out this option from Bully on Amazon.

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oil filterDuxX/Shutterstock

Remove A Stubborn Oil Filter

We’ve all done it—overtightened an oil filter so much that it’s a bear to remove. You can’t just remove it by jamming a long screwdriver through the can and twisting; the screwdriver will just rip the can open and you’ll be drenched in oil. When you’re done dealing with that mess, the filter will still be stuck.

Instead, remove a stuck filter using a band-type wrench. First, line the wrench with coarse-grit adhesive-back sandpaper (top photo). Or spray adhesive on the back of regular sandpaper. Better yet, buy a filter wrench with coarse grit welded to the inside of the band (bottom photo). Lisle Swivel-Gripper No-Slip filter wrenches are available in several sizes and cost about $14 online. Slide the filter wrench band all the way down near the base of the filter. Then tighten it and twist.

FH11NOV_523_13_034-1200 filter wrenchFamily Handyman

Add Grit for a Better Grip

Slice a strip of adhesive-back sand­paper and slip it inside a band-style filter wrench. Then remove the adhesive liner and press it into place. Adhesive-back sandpaper is tough to find in stores. Try this 20-yard roll from Amazon.

FH11NOV_523_13_041-1200 filter wrenchFamily Handyman

Get a Filter Wrench with Built-In Grit

Slide a Swivel-Gripper filter wrench toward the base of the filter. Rotate the handle to force the grit into the metal. Then swivel the handle and twist off the filter. Click here to get this tool from Amazon.

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FH12MAR_526_13_035-1200 retractable cable boxFamily Handyman

Secure Your Gear

No cable lock can protect against thieves with bolt cutters, but this truck bed cable lock can sure slow them down. The ToyLok unit shown includes an 18-ft. retractable cable and mounts in a stake pocket with a bracket (sold separately). Other mounting brackets allow you to mount the lock to your trailer hitch, RV bumper or toolbox.

Nobody regrets this purchase after they use it once. Check out all the great reviews on Amazon.

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FH11NOV_523_13_035-1200 car washFamily Handyman

Wash First—With the Right Suds

Even though hand dishwashing liquid is a great degreaser, don’t use it on the body of your vehicle. It removes dirt, grease and old wax, but it also sucks important oils right out of the paint finish. If you use it repeatedly, you’ll shorten the life of your paint job. Instead of dish soap, use a cleaner formulated for vehicles.

Once you’ve mixed the suds, fill a second bucket with clean water. Rinse the mitt in it often as you’re washing. That’ll remove most of the road grit from the mitt to prevent scratches. When you’re finished, throw the mitt in the washing machine to get it completely clean.

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cracked windshieldRomaset/Shutterstock

Fix a Cracked Windshield

Q: Is it true that windshield cracks are dangerous if you get in an accident? If not, I really don’t want to pay to get mine fixed.

A: In many cars, the passenger-side air bag is designed to ricochet off the windshield and project into the passenger. So if the airbag deploys against a cracked windshield, the glass can shatter and prevent proper airbag operation. In addition, the windshield helps support the roof during a crash. The bottom line: Driving with a cracked windshield really is dangerous, and in most states, also illegal.

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.