Reader Feedback & Suggestions


Fantasy Parking
Tom's fantasy


Rear Door Blow
Scary stuff


Think you've got it bad?
Take a look at parking in...

Parking in Paris

Parking in Australia


College Lot Parking
Christine's strategy

Interesting Parking

Thanks to all of our readers for submitting comments and suggestions. They are presented here in no particular order.

  • Small cars make better neighbors than big (or huge) vehicles. Some people who purchased those humongous SUVs did so at least partially for protection against others. If so, they may not care as much about your car as you do. And even if their drivers are careful, since their vehicles are bigger, they just need more room to open doors and load people, groceries and other cargo.
  • Tom P. in Florida takes safe parking to the next level by checking Google Earth in advance of a trip to see what his parking options might be. (Great idea, Tom!) He also checks the wind direction to see which way the shopping carts might blow!
  • Four-door cars are generally safer to park next to than two door cars as the doors are not as long or heavy. But here's an important exception: because of the shape of the rear doors of four door cars (see photo to the left) if contact is made it will be much higher than any protective rub strip you may have. So if you are parking where families tend to go (i.e. movie theaters, amusement parks and malls), four-door cars present an increase risk.
  • New, nice cars might be a little safer than old and crummy cars - but there is no guarantee. There are many drivers of nice cars that are rude and don't car about other vehicles. Also that Porsche you parked next to may be gone when you return, replaced with a giant SUV.
  • When there's a choice, it's better to park on the passenger side of another car. ALL cars have a driver who will be getting in and out, but only SOME cars have a passenger.
  • Observe how closely adjacent vehicles are to their boundary lines. Ideally they are situated further way from your target space.
  • Do your neighbor's vehicles have protective strips on their doors? If so, and you have strips at approximately the same height, a door contact may not be a problem at all. (Too bad ALL vehicles didn't have those strips at the same height, eh?)
  • The presence of child seats or other evidence that children may be passengers returning to an adjacent vehicle is another danger. A mom who is buckling junior into the back seat will certainly not be focusing in on your car. (Thanks to Gareth for this one.)
  • Here in Southern California we sometimes have very high winds. Did you ever have a car door blow wide open while you were getting in or out? Your neighbor may have the same problem. If it's windy, use extra caution where you park and allow for some extra space. (Thanks again, Gareth.)
  • Thanks to reader Jeff C. who sent in this suggestion:

"Although it is obviously subject to change the longer you are planning to be in a particular location, I give some credit (1/4 point perhaps) to the configuration that has a car to the left with passenger door facing and the car to the right that is backed into the space, thereby showing the passenger door to the right as well. All else being equal, it increases the chance for a "safe" park just a bit."

  • Reader Joseph G. warns that when parking in a garage, always use caution when raising a hatch as the garage door opener may hang low and cause contact. (I've had personal experience with this one.)
  • Reader Harold S. warns to avoid high foot-traffic spots (i.e. next to a crosswalk).
  • College student Christine from Delaware made a diagram of her strategy (click the picture at the left).
  • Joe P. warns to watch out for debris such as nails, screws, bolts, etc. in the lots of Home Depot and other home improvement stores.
  • Jerry sends a tip reminding us to obey the law...of gravity:

"When you park in a grocery store lot or Home Depot, etc, always park on the downhill side of the curbs. Cars and carts will roll downhill right into your car when you park anywhere, look to be on top of the hill or protected from carts by a curb."

Driveway Danger
Driveway danger

  • My friend Will sent me the crunched door picture to the left to remind us all that if you are going to park on the street, avoid parking across the street from a driveway. Another caution when parking on the street is in situations where people may be backing into the space in front of you.
  • Andrew R. sends in a good tip: when parking in an indoor garage, the color of the walls in contrast with the color of your hood may make it difficult to tell how much space you have left. (Don't count on the cement wheel stop). Turning on your headlights will help, but if in doubt, take the extra few seconds and look before you pull all the way forward.
  • Martin (who supplied the pictures from Australia above) warns to avoid parking next to a high-rise building with balconies. It seems that an empty cigarette lighter committed suicide by jumping off one...and hitting Martin's car! Falling debris, intentionally or accidentally dropped, can cause very significant damage.
  • Mike Kohnke from Sarasota, Florida passes along a couple of good tips. First, when pulling into a space, beware if the front wheels of adjacent vehicles are turned very sharply. Your neighbor could jump in and back out before realizing the angle of departure. (This happened to one of Mike's acquaintances.)
  • Another tip from Mike is to beware of parking next to light poles. While they may offer some parking protection, there may be birds up there just waiting for an opportunity for some target practice!
  • Here is Steve D's suggestion for parking at a big box store such as Home Depot or even a super market.

"Usually one would consider a shopping cart the enemy of the car but in my case I use it as a preventative device by placing them , one or more, if conveniently near by, in the parking space next to mine. People are inherently lazy and won't move them to gain the parking space  and will go for another instead. And usually the hired help are lazy and won't retrieve the carts until pressed by management. Be quick about your business in the store in order to gain the protection window of the cart before the box boy type is assigned collection duty."

(Editorial note: If you try that, make sure you're on level ground - and it's not windy!)

  • And speaking of wind, here's a good suggestion from Bill:

"I live in Tulsa where it is often breezy or even windy.  If I must park next to other cars and it's a windy day, I park facing into the wind. Often times the doors of even courteous drivers/passengers are caught and thrown wide open by the wind."

  • Here's a suggestion from Brian in Grand Prairie, Texas:

"At 7/11 type stores, I do park at the gas pump regardless of whether I need gas. Usually, lots of space on all sides and I can duck into the store without fear."

  • Another reader comment from Rod warns that "distance" is only one factor:

"I once had a new car, 2 months old, that I carefully parked far away at the end of a grocery store lot. When I returned to my car a shopping cart had rolled down the slightly sloping lot and put a big dent in the rear quarterpanel. $600 damage, believe it or not, paid in total by the store (Wegman's, Rochester, NY)."

  • Mike from Seattle used to work for a parking company. He sent a note with this hint.

"In even my last 3 years or so at the last location, there was a marked increase in the too tall vehicles coming in, hitting the PVC "headache bar" that is supposed to let the driver know that their vehicle is too tall. Add a ski rack, or some such on top, and hoo-boy!

So many people didn't realize, or accept the fact that they were responsible for knowing their vehicle's height, and many of them didn't like the fact that we attendants didn't know how tall their vehicle was. One issue that would arise occasionally, is they would see the same make/model of their vehicle pull in, with no problem, but didn't understand that sometimes when the vehicle ahead of them was barely clearing, all that it could take was a different tire size, which isn't easy to eyeball, that could mean the difference between making it, or not. Plus, many of the customers with these barely clearing vehicles, were regular customers, that knew they'd be okay, if they exercised due caution in driving through the garage, and in selecting a parking spot."

  • Mike also deserves a big salute for being a rare parking hero! Here's his story:

"One time, around 20 years or so ago, when I went to a local grocery store, as I got out of my car and headed toward the store entrance, I noticed a "runaway" shopping cart, that was rolling, what appeared to be, directly to a then later model VW Jetta.

The Jetta was at the edge of the parking lot, and as I recall more than one space on either side of it were open. It appeared the owner had parked there intentionally, primarily to avoid dings.

Anyway, this was back when I could still run okay, so I took off after the cart. My main reason was because it just seemed the right thing to do, especially with it being a rather nice car, but I likely would have attempted the same, if the car had been a beater.

Now, admittedly, there was a tad of self-satisfaction, that I could be the "Hero", and save someone's (an attractive lady, by chance?) ;) nice ride from being damaged!

Success! I made it to the cart, before the cart made it to the Jetta!

Even though I don't think anyone witnessed my act of valor, I started toward the store with the cart, all smug and proud of myself."

  • We all appreciate what you did Mike!


Keep those comments coming!


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