AskPatty Certified Female Friendly Logo

« Audubon Toyota Alliance Awards Conservationists TogetherGreen Fellowship | Main | Importance of Proper Tire Inflation Pressure »

December 27, 2008

The Power Of Duct Tape - An Auto Essential

Daytona_pic_3 by Danna "Daytona" Dayton

It is important, being a woman, to especially take care in including emergency items in your car for any type of mishap. This article is going to focus on DUCT TAPE and its versatility from quick-fix auto repair to first aid. Personally, I LOVE DUCT TAPE AND ITS NUMEROUS USES not just with cars, but with everything I do, from my office, my home, kids and the outdoors.

Back in 1984 when I was working at one of the races for independent NASCAR team (Ronnie Thomas), I was known as the “duct-tape queen” (as independent teams meant utilizing low-budget  creativity). I always carried it around with me and for good reason too.

Ducttape Low budgets meant creativity – for example, my version of a brake cooling system was duct-taping “dryer vent hoses” from the open screened vents in the front of the race car (where lights would be on a normal car) and loop them up and over to bring the air flow directly to the brake calipers.

The contraption held together during the race and on the last NASCAR race ever held in Nashville, TN (1984), Ronnie Thomas (whom I was working for), admitted that when he came back out of the pits (after having problems with the car's rear-end) with a new set of tires (I specially staggered - donated from Darrell Waltrip's team – I worked the deal out with Jeff Hammon and they only had 38 laps on them), along with the brakes keeping their cool through my duct-tape job, that it was what helped him sail past the leader (and eventual winner) Jeff Bodine (Allstar Racing) – giving Ronnie the shine for a few laps and few moments on national television.

Where did it come from? Duct tape, also known as duck tape, is a strong, fabric-based, multi-purpose adhesive tape. It is usually 1.99 inches (48mm) wide and was originally developed during World War II in 1942 under the name “Duck Tape” as a waterproof sealing tape for ammunition cases. After the war, people started using it for multi-purposes and the name “duct tape” came from its use on heating and air conditioning ducts. Duct tape is a strong tape that is composed of three layers.

(Keep reading for all kinds of fun uses for duct tape!)

The top layer (1) is a resilient plastic (Polyethelyne). The bottom layer (3) is a rubber-based adhesive. The middle layer (2) is a fabric mesh. Duct tape was manufactured by pressing these three layers together. Duct tape, when doubled over onto itself can pull a 2000 lb. car out of a ditch, and has the distinct benefit of not requiring any other tools to cut it - you just rip it with your bare hands!

A frequent joke is that a handyman needs only two tools: duct tape for “sticking” and the lubricant WD-40 for “unsticking.” From NASA – Apollo 13's incident where duct tape saved the lives of three astronauts to being used regularly by musicians and film crews, its precision in ripping it into thin strips with ease is absolutely amazing! (Can you tell I love duct tape?)


CAR OVERHEATS - In case your car overheats, and a hose is busted, duct tape is a temporary form of repair. Tape the hose and then pour a mixture of antifreeze and water into the radiator. If everything is too hot and steaming, wrap your hands where you will be touching hot parts with duct tape. It will act as an insulator. But don't wait too long. Duct tape can only withstand temperatures up to 200°F (93°C). Also, don't use it to repair a leak in your car's gas line -- the gasoline dissolves the adhesive.

Chippedwindshield_2 GLASS CHIPS/BREAKS/SHATTERS – if through an accident or something thrown through a window, use duct tape on the INSIDE OF THE WINDOW – Before removing broken window glass, crisscross the broken pane with duct tape to hold it all together. This will ensure a shard doesn't fall out and cut you. and tape up all around the damaged area. It will prevent glass from shattering on the inside until it can be fixed. Duct tape by itself will hold out.

TIRES STUCK IN MUD/SNOW – Look around the car for bulk such as sticks, boards, even-side road garbage (paper plates, etc), and duct-tape together to create something at least 2 feet long (for the two main tires - rear or front tires depending upon rear wheel or front wheel drive) for the tires to grab onto to get out of the rut. Always rock the vehicle when getting out of icy situations. Don't just let the tires spin as it will dig your car deeper into a rut. Blankets are also good for this. Bunch it together with duck tape so it stays thick and together.

First_aid_kit_1FIRST AID – Duct tape can act as bandages, slings, used for splints, in rare cases, tourniquets. You can make a cup for water, or temporarily tape skin back together should there be a deep cut.

REPAIR LIGHTS – If someone just backed into your car and smashed the taillight! Here's a quick repair that will last until you have time to get to the repair shop. Depending on where the cracks lie, use yellow or red duct tape to hold the remaining parts together. In some states this repair will even pass inspection. In case a headlights goes out – duck tape flashlights to the front until able to get to a safe place and fixed.


   1.Fix a broken tail light.
   2.Repair the seat covers in your car.
   3.Repair cracked windshield/window.
   4.Reattach rear view mirror.
   5.Repair broken hoses.
   6.Repair broken fan belt.
   7.For emergency tow and no rope – twist a long piece into a rope.
   8.Emergency Seat belt – in case the clasp isn't working.
   9.Hold the car hood shut.
  10.Hold a car door shut.
  11.If trunk lid doesn't close because of bulk – use to hold lid down.
  12.Tape plastic over broken window.
  13.Tape ripped carpet.
  14. Roll up some duct tape into a little roll half an inch in diameter. Cut it in half. Earplugs or nose plugs.
  15.For safety, coat your hands with a couple layers of it when you're handling hot, sharp, or radioactive objects.
  16.Emergency roof rack for your car.
  17.Cover rust holes in your car.
  18.Hold your bumper in place.
  19.Hold your muffler up – in case it fell.
  20.Repair trim on cars.
  21.Patch holes in convertibles.
  22.Make a pouch and attach it to a door so you can hold stuff.
  23.Use it as a substitute for Bondo.
  24.Can be used to clean the floor when no vacuum is available
  25.Hold a car battery in.
  26.Beverage holders.
  27.Temporarily hem your pants or skirt.
  28.Repair trim on cars.
  29.Bumper sticker. Got something you want to say? Make your own bumper sticker.
  30.You'll never get locked out of your car again if you affix an extra key to the undercarriage with duct tape.
  31. When taking a mini-van to the car wash, tape the rear window windshield wiper with Duct Tape . This keeps it in place and it won't be damaged as the vans go through the wash.
  32.Duct Tape is a great "holder-upper" for a dangling parking light.
  33.With leaks, duct tape on the inside seam of the windshield so rain doesn't come inside of the car.
  34.Use duct tape to tape a loose windshield wiper.
  35.Use CLEAR duct tape to tape up cracked windows on your car or window.
  36.Use as an emergency rope when traveling and hauling things. Rolled or flat tape makes a handy, quick securing line for items that may fly away on fast highways. It's strong and sturdy and doesn't rip easily.
  37.Tape up a trailer hitch latch to keep it from coming unlatched.
  38.A roll of duct tape makes a great drink holder when driving. It prevents coffee from spilling and you always have a roll of duct tape in your car.

To conclude, here is a list of all items that should be included in your car for any emergency. I encourage you to add to my list of uses for duct tape and autos. HAPPY SAFE TRAVELING!

    *Spare tire and jack
    *Jumper cables
    *Flares or reflectors
    *2 rolls of duct tape (one clear)
    *Tools and goggles
    *24Hour food kit (snacks-granola bars-nuts -replace every 3 months)
    *2 Heat blankets (small packages found in outdoor sports dept.)
    *Camping shovel
    *Plastic Tarp
    *Swiss knife (all the extras on it)
    *2 Flashlights
    *Extra containers of fluids (oil, water, antifreeze, brake fluid)
    *First aid kit
    *Spare fuses
    *Tow Rope

"Daytona is founder/host of Daytona & Friends Celebrity Network, a  positive talk radio format, as well as host of Daytona & Friends noon-time TV Show. She was the first female NASCAR licensed mechanic in 1984 and “over-the-wall” pit crew member, and is an advocate of building self-esteem in people of all ages. Daytona is mother of four children, grandmother of two, and resides in Eagle, Idaho, with her three teenagers."

Car Advice Podcasts for Women

Visit us at


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Power Of Duct Tape - An Auto Essential :

comments powered by Disqus

comments powered by Disqus

Find Cars For Sale

Car Advice

Ask The Experts!

Help Our Charities