Secret Codes Every Car Owner Should Know

Every car has a laundry list of features and functions that aren’t widely shared with consumers. Dealerships and automakers include some information that drivers should make note of but there are more hidden features and secret codes that are often passed over. Being aware of these codes and features can make home repairs easier or improve your fuel economy and handling under some road conditions.

The digital display of a car radio
Fiat car stereo | Gavin Roberts/Official Windows magazine via Getty Images

Radio resets can be frustrating

Drivers who have had to replace a battery know that car radios can lock after they lose power. Resetting the radio is as simple as entering a code. That code can typically be found in the owner’s manual, but sometimes it can be harder to find. A VIN search with the manufacturer can provide the code as well.

This feature is meant to be a theft deterrent so many manufacturers make it difficult to bypass without specific knowledge. Many models have a work-around for lost codes. Owners can call their local dealership to confirm the alternative methods.

Honda owners who find themselves locked out of their sound system with no access to a reset code or dealership can try holding down the power button on their radio for around 50 minutes. Ford models equipped with this workaround will hold the seek button. A small object and some tape makes depressing these button for close to an hour much more convenient.

Paint touchups don’t have to be expensive

Technicians in full-body protective gear and respirators spray paint the body of a car red
Technicians spray paint a car | Yuan Jingzhi/VCG via Getty Images

RELATED: 5 Old School Repair Tricks Every Car Owner Should Know

Paint and finishes are often where cars show their age first. No matter how expected they are, scratches and dents in a brand new car can still be incredibly upsetting. Body work and paint repair can be expensive, but owners don’t need to rely on the local body shop for every tiny tiny nick.

Drivers mention the color of their car thousands of times during the life of the car or period of ownership. How many can say they actually know the manufacturer name for their shade? A quick search of the vehicle’s VIN plates will provide the answer.

Each car is tagged with a unique code the matches up with a paint color. This code is found in most places the VIN is found. Owners should check the driver’s door frame tag first. If the paint code isn’t there, try the windshield. Once the code is found, drivers can order a spray of their car’s paint for small at-home touchups. A glossy topcoat is necessary to blend touchups with the original paint.

Extra grip isn’t always better

A black Lexus RX 350 SUV performing traction testing
Lexus RX 350 | Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

RELATED: You Can Improve Your Car’s Fuel Economy With A Few Tricks

Disabling safety features is a risky endeavor but can be safe when good judgement is applies. Traction control is an important safety feature that makes driving in slick conditions much safer. There are some valid reasons why drivers may choose to temporarily disable this system

When road conditions are dry and controlled, such as driving on a paved city street during mild weather, traction control serves little to no purpose. If a driver is traveling at reasonable speeds during dry conditions, they can safely turn off the system. This can reduce wear on tires and improve gas milage. Those benefits make this a popular hack among taxi drivers.

Manual overrides like this one often involve a complicated and seemingly arbitrary combination of shifting. The specifics of these rituals will vary based on make and model. Owner forums are a great place to find detailed instructions but driver’s should proceed with caution.

Before an owner considers disabling traction control on their own vehicle they should be sure they are confident and capable of turning it back on quickly. The car will likely need to be in park to do so. Road conditions can change at the drop of a hat. No one wants to be caught out in the rain with no traction control.