There seems to be little that can go wrong when opening your car door. Still, an accident is in a small corner. This can cause damage to your car, but you can also endanger others.
A slammed door that hits the paint of the car next to you, an overlooked support pillar in a parking garage or an electric fifth door that slams into the ceiling of a garage or roof: scratches, dents and peeling paint are often the result. But sometimes these kinds of mistakes can also be dangerous for others. For example, when you push open the driver’s door without noticing an approaching cyclist or motorcyclist. Avoid making these nine mistakes.
1. Not taking into account the height of sidewalks (especially abroad)
When you parallel park in the city and open the door without thinking, there is a chance that your car is too low or the sidewalk is too high. The grinding sound that follows hurts. Sometimes it also hits you in your wallet, if scratches or damage occur in the paintwork, or if a door rubber tears loose when it comes into contact with the hard curb edge. Particularly abroad, the height of the sidewalk often does not take into account the opening of car doors. Also dangerous: speed bumps and knee-high parking bollards. In short: first look down after carefully opening the door.
2. Don’t look back
Many a cyclist has already experienced that a car door was suddenly swung open in front of him. When you get out, always look to the back first. Not only in the mirror, but also by turning your head. In some modern cars, smart assistance systems warn if something appears in the blind spot, or even block the door if, for example, a bicycle approaches. Still, it’s always better to look in the rearview mirror. In Europe, many driving school owners teach their students the ‘Dutch Reach’. In addition, they should always use the hand furthest from the door when opening the car door. This way you almost automatically look over your shoulder.
3. Underestimating the wind
Car doors are like sails in the wind. In Iceland, children are already learning how to hold the door firmly when opening it. A bent front fender or a door partially pulled out of the frames is lurking when the wind gets a hold. A door ajar can catch so much wind that it is almost impossible to stop it with one hand in a storm. There is also the risk of damage if you open a door when a car is parked downhill. Car doors are very heavy these days and can then slam into the hinges with so much force that damage to the body is caused.
4. Open frozen door
Anyone who has ever stood next to the car in the winter with a broken door rubber knows that you should not use force in such cases. Door freezing is a problem especially in older cars and can be easily prevented. Lubricate your door rubbers for the winter cold with talcum powder, Vaseline or lubricant WD40. If you are going to wash your car in the winter, dry the rubbers thoroughly to prevent things from freezing overnight.
5. Open the door at low speeds
Anyone who opens the door while parking (as was often the case in the past) to see obstacles or the dotted line of your parking space, is in for a surprise with many new cars: some models immediately put the automatic transmission in the P position or automatically apply the electronic parking brake. Although the risk of damage or injury is small, it can be annoying.
6. Forget child safety
In almost every four- or five-door car, the rear doors can be locked to prevent children from opening them from the inside. This child lock functions in older cars via a small push or pivot pin in the door. In newer cars, this rarely happens via a separate button, but usually via the menu of the on-board computer. How this works can be found in the manual of your car.
7. Do not hold tailgate
High SUVs often have tailgates that extend well above the car roof. This can lead to problems in many parking garages and under shelters. Electric valves in particular are treacherous, because you may not or hardly see whether things are going well when you open them. In modern cars, however, the opening height can often be controlled via the on-board menu or with a button. If things threaten to go wrong, you can stop the process by pressing the button on the inside of the lid or by manually braking it.
8. Not knowing where your car’s spare key is hidden
If the battery of your car’s remote control runs out or is defective, you can open the car with a spare key that allows you to unlock the car and sometimes also start it. Exactly where this ‘secret key’ is hidden differs from model to model. Usually there is a small button on your remote control. If you press this and pull anywhere else, the key’s ‘beard’ will appear. The manual tells you exactly how to get this emergency key out.
9. Slamming your car door too hard in these German cities
Since last month, anyone who slams his car door too hard in the German city of Erdmannhausen can count on a fine of up to 80 euros due to noise nuisance. Neighboring municipalities such as Bönnigheim, Kornwestheim, Murr, Oberstenfeld, Freudental and Gemmrigheim can also impose fines for this. With the new police regulation, not only slamming car doors can be punished in the future, but also leaving engines running for an unnecessarily long time or blowing the horn for no reason.
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