In July 2022, an ad on Yahoo.com appeared to promote that car grab handles had a "special" and "hidden purpose" or "hack." The ad read, "TikToker Realizes Hidden Purpose Behind Car Handle. A Woman Discovered This Secret Car Hack." However, all of this was fairly misleading.
First, the ad led to a slideshow article on Investing.com that lasted 220 pages. None of the pages mentioned anything about car grab handles. It was nothing more than clickbait.
As for the TikTok video, we quickly found it after a simple Google search. However, the video, which was uploaded in 2020, did not show a "hidden purpose" or a "hack" for car grab handles. It simply appeared to show that some cars have small flaps that allow access for mechanics to replace the handles. Quite a few TikTok commenters said that they tried pulling the flaps back in their cars, but ended up breaking some of the pieces off.
The main purpose of car grab handles is to help people climb into and out of the vehicle, also referred to as ingress and egress. (It's also often been referred to online as the "oh shit" or "oh no" handle that passengers might grab in panic situations, either in movies or reality.)
In 1997, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published that the reason for a car's "overhead grab handles" was "to help passengers get in and out." We found the same purpose mentioned for the car handles in a 2010 story from the Spokane, Washington, newspaper, The Spokesman-Review.
Some drivers might also hang clothes from the grab handles if a hook is not included with the car. However, this can be a safety violation that might block the driver's view.
The lesson here is that online ads aren't exactly a dependable source of credible information.
1A Auto. How to Replace Drivers Side Grab Handle 07-11 Honda CR-V. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua03dp41kk8.
Adair, Don. “Don’s Take.” The Spokesman-Review via Newspapers.com, 27 Feb. 2010, p. D1, https://www.newspapers.com/image/587800231/.
“Additional Driving Laws/Rules.” California DMV, https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/handbook/california-driver-handbook/additional-driving-laws-rules/.
DarkMatterM4. “ELI5: Why Do Cars Have an ‘Oh Shit’ Grab Handle on the Front Driver’s Side?” r/Cars via Reddit, 21 Oct. 2021, www.reddit.com/r/cars/.
Williams III, G. Chambers. “Toyota Builds Avalon, a Car for Baby Boomers.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram via Newspapers.com, Sunday Neighbors, 2 Mar. 1997, p. 6, https://www.newspapers.com/image/646426161/.