Tips to avoid car park damage
According to recent Australian motor vehicle insurance statistics, one in five collisions involved hitting a parked car. And there’s more! Crashing into a stationary object is the third most commonly reported accident. Minimise the risk of damage to your car, and keep your insurance premiums down by following these car parking tips.
#1 Park legally
There are very valid reasons as to why No Standing zones and Clearways exist. When parking your car out of harm’s way, check that you are parking it legally. Did you know that it is illegal to park within 10 metres of an intersection without traffic lights in Victoria? If you need to brush up on car parking road rules, take a look at this Vic Roads website page - parking rules.
#2 Choose off-street parking
A recent observation in my leafy, narrow residential street is that cars regularly parked on the side of the road all wear very visible battle scars! Just yesterday I counted three on-street parked cars with nasty scrapes across the two or three panels facing the street, as well as a neighbour’s car with a decent dent where someone has reversed into them, street side. You’ll notice that in calculating your car insurance premium, one of the key questions for calculating insurance is where you park your car.
If you have no option but to park on the street, make sure that you’re parking in the same direction as traffic so that your tail lights will at least give oncoming traffic some warning to watch out for your car.
#3 Choose protection on one side
Shopping centre car parks have a reputation for being a panel beater’s dream. When you must park in a public car parking space, choose a parking bay where only one side of your car is exposed. I will often persevere with driving a few laps to find a very large concrete pillar, or garden bed to park beside.
#4 Always avoid shopping trolley holding areas
Never, ever choose the one vacant spot that is next to, or backs on to, a shopping trolley holding bay. Many shoppers are notoriously reckless when it comes to treating shopping trolleys gently. All it takes is one careless shopper to put a decent dent in your panel, and ruin your day.
#5 Use child seats as a cue
It is common sense that a child that is still young enough to be in a child restraining seat is unlikely to be paying attention to how close their door edge is to your car. If you have a choice, park on the opposite side the child seat is on. Hopefully the adult in charge, will be careful opening their car door!
#6 Never squeeze in
It’s simply not worth squeezing into very tight car parking spot. It won’t save you time and it could cost you money. Take a deep breath, and find that roomier spot. Always park right in the middle of a car parking space to allow maximum room around your vehicle and minimise risk.
#7 A shady tree might be a shady choice
While a car park under a big shady tree may feel tempting on a warm day, it’s often best to avoid parking under a tree with broad branches. Not only could your car be a catchment for bird, bat or possum poo; an afternoon breeze, or a passing storm could bring down that nice, shady tree branch with a thud.
#8 Hilly? Handbrake on. Turn wheels into the gutter.
If you’re parking on a hill, make sure your hand brake is not only on, but holding well before you hop out of your car. I always do a big jiggle, and jump around in my car just to test out the holding power. If you’re driving a manual car, always leave it parked in gear for extra hold – with caution, remember to make sure it’s in neutral when you go to start your car again!
For added safety, whether you’re parking uphill or downhill, position your wheels toward the gutter. That way, if things went wrong your car is less likely to end up heading straight into traffic with the gutter being an obstacle to your runaway car’s path.
More tips, information and guidelines:
AAMI Crash Index – based on data from 7,000 car collisions in 2014