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This web site is all about applying the practice of "risk management" to parking.

A number of years ago, while on vacation in the middle of nowhere, Arizona, I parked my spotless Toyota 4-Runner at a trail head parking lot. It was the middle of the week and there was no one else in the entire lot.

When I got back from a hike that couldn't have been more than a couple of hours long, there were a few more cars in the lot. Unfortunately, one of them was a huge 70's vintage two-door Oldsmobile or Buick parked to the left of me. "Yikes," I thought. And to my horror I found that I had a huge dent in my driver's door. Because there was a slight slope towards my little truck, I figure that when the passenger door of that Oldsmobuick was opened, it was, intentionally or not, released, ramming my vehicle with what was obviously a mighty blow. The door on that thing probably weighed 100 pounds, and it hit my door like Thor's hammer.

Although I had always tried to keep my vehicles looking nice, it was this incident that started me thinking about the strategies I could use to minimize risk when parking my vehicle.

One sad fact is that the person who bumps their door into your car will suffer less damage than you. The edge of the door is stronger than the middle and far easier to touch up when nicked. Some people even add plastic strips to the edge of their doors so they can bump into other things and incur no damage to their own vehicle. Nice, eh?

If you are one of the many people who will go the extra step to try to keep your vehicle looking good for as long as possible (or want to help someone else to gain insight into this practice) this site is for you. Having a car that looks "new" makes a lot of folks feel good. Keeping the paint from looking like a moonscape will also help resale value. And in areas of the country where rust is a problem, an unattended door nick can quickly turn into a more serious problem.

Of course, you will not be able to prevent all nicks and chips. If you use your vehicle on a regular basis, it will suffer some of life's little dings. So take the following tidbits for what they're worth, and try not to be overly obsessive.

Remember to click on any photo in the column on the left for a larger version and more information. Your feedback and suggestions are encouraged.

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