New Car: Keep it Ding-Free

Jolien’s ol’ faithful Volkswagon Van finally quit. Today she pulls her new, used (Nused) 2003 Volkswagen Passet into a parking lot and straddles two parking spaces. She doesn’t want to get car door dings! New, used or Nused it doesn’t matter. Make sure the next sound you here is not a car door ding! All new or used car owners want the same thing – ding-less-cars! Is that possible?

Here are three sure ways to significantly reduce your chances of car door-dings.

1.Buy a ding-less car
2.Use spacious parking lots
3.Know your door sizes (eyeball the other guys/gals car doors)

Buy a ding-less car! In 1990 Saturn, an American owned company (GM) started making cars made with Polymer. Polymer is a word gleaned from the Greeks: polys meaning many, and meros meaning parts. However, in 2005, Saturn began to mix up it’s Polymer body, offerings different kinds of protection from 3 different kinds of blends. Sounds a little like coffee beans.

The rear quarter panels in the Ion Coupe and the Vue (suv), offer a polymer protection that deflect gas spills. Car doors, made from a springier-Polymer version helps to deflect dents and dings. The front fascia is made from a polymer so tough that it’s impact resistant (Except in extreme cases). Any combination of these on can keep your car looking ding-free.

Of course, Saturn’s Relay-Minivan, does not contain polymer. Spokesperson, Sue Holmgre told Ecoline that Saturn’s Relay-Minivan was being built along side General Motors’ Chevrolet Upland and other small van offerings. Saturn’s Relay Minivan is aggressively marketed to customers with very active lifestyles, spend more time outside and on the open road. OK then – MOST Saturn cars are ding free. I mean my 1995 Saturn wagon doors are virtually still ding free. But I digress.

The second ding-free thing to do is to renegotiate where you shop and park.
My friend Jolien’s new Volkswagen Passat is a shiny deep ever-green; reflecting sun and beading rain on its hood. Her lovely Passat doesn’t have a name yet and – it’s not made of polymer. Now there’s a ding waiting to happen. I would advise anyone, if your shopping venue doesn’t have a spacious parking lot and you’re driving a shiny new car, find another place to shop because one-size does not fit all.

In Saint Paul, Minnesota there is a strip called ‘Mid-Way’ where people come from all around to shop-’til they drop. I took a measuring sample from a few mega-parking lots and found that not all parking lots are created equal; nor every vendor cares about your car.

Out of four main shopping venues: Menard’s, Goodwill, Rainbow Groceries Midway and Cub Foods only Menard’s and Cub Foods come within three inches of each other to offer the most substantial parking stalls for their patrons. These two vendors provide between 106″ to 109″ wide parking stalls for their customers. At Menard’s Super store where people shop for hardware, gardening and other household fixtures I still saw vehicles parked with an excess of a foot or so suspended into the crossway. Of course these were often trucks and vans more than 210″ in length. Sometimes width and length matters.

Finally, take responsibility for your dings! Get involved. Have you ever wondered how important the width of your car is when it comes to dings? John S. Allen’s Bicycle page provides a brief overview of motor vehicle widths. Where do you rate?

For example, if you drive a Saturn Wagon, like mine, what John has done is measured the width of the vehicle plus the open driver’s door plus 6″ of spacing from the curb to the right side of the car. (Bikers need to know who’s car door is the biggest menace!) My Saturn comes in at about 104″. I’d be barely scrapping by at a generous parking lot like Cub Foods! No pun intended but at a lot where the stalls are on 96″ wide it’s a little too close for polite company. On John Allen’s chart, you can see that most passenger car doors, opened wide, are 113″ – dings just waiting to happen! Looking at these dimensions Saturn still reads like a responsible choice. Take responsibility – Are you a ding maker??

So go ahead and laugh but remember a ding-less car is a re-sellable car! And that’s money you can drive home with.

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John S. Allen’s Bicycle Facilities, Law and Programs:





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