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How to protect your car when parking in the city

Updated on December 1, 2012

Growing up in a small town, I never had to worry about parking. There was always plenty of safe parking available. We would even leave our cars unlocked.

Then I moved to a large city (population: 1 million) and realized how naïve I was. By simply parking downtown, I was leaving myself open to dings, dents, break-ins, and more. My partner had someone kick a dent into the side of his truck (we know it was a kick because the shoe print was still visible when we saw the dent). I had my car broken into, and I didn't event have anything inside my car - they looked through the car and took nothing!

As great as insurance can be (though I haven't used my insurance yet because the deductible is just too high), it can be better to try to prevent any damage to your vehicle by being more careful about where you leave it.

Here are some tips I may suggest:

  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Lock your car.
  • Don't park near vehicles that are parked grossly out of the spot. If they can't drive into the spot cleanly, do you think they can get out without scratching your car?
  • Park near cameras so that you can try to use footage to track down who caused damage to your car. You may be able to see a face or license plate.
  • Park where there is a lot of foot traffic. Thieves don't want to risk getting caught and will target vehicles where there is less activity taking place, such as the deep dark corners of lots or garages. I try to park somewhat near the doors and stairs/elevators in garages, and along well-frequented streets. Try to stick to the lower levels of a garage where more people are coming in and out more often.
  • At the same time, I avoid parking along narrow, busy streets where people are driving fast. It's easier for them to swipe your car and commit a hit-and-run. I had my car sideswiped, with my rearview mirror ripped off completely, and there was nothing I could do but pay for a new mirror.
  • Try to avoid parallel parking. Drivers can easily sideswipe your vehicle, and can back into it when trying to parallel park.
  • Take valuables out of your car. I try to keep as few things in my car as I can, even in the trunk and glove compartment.
  • If your car has visible damage, try to get it repaired as soon as you can. Thieves may target vehicles that appear less cared for because they think the vehicles are less likely to have alarms or security systems.
  • If you need to have your vehicle parked for an extended period of time, make sure you move it at least once every three days or so. Cities often have vehicle abatement laws that can result in your vehicle being towed after a certain number of days of just sitting.
  • Check the area around your vehicle when you are leaving. There may be glass bottle and other items in the way that you can run over and that can cause damage.

If you do have damage to your car, file a police report as soon as you can so you can use it to file an insurance claim if necessary.


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    • Anjili profile image

      Anjili 5 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

      These are fine tips that ensure the safety of your car. Autos have become quite expensive.

      I used to marvel at Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) and his habit of removing the steering wheel and carrying it in his briefcase to ensure he finds his car at the parking lot after work. Least did I know how car thieves can be a menace.

      I normally lock my steering wheel onto the clutch with a special padlock. Thieves have entered severally but failed to get the car moving.

      Works well. Thanks for the share. Voted up

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 6 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC


    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 6 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      Thankis for the info. You offered some great suggestions.

    • MikeNV profile image

      MikeNV 6 years ago from Henderson, NV

      +1 Good Tips. A lot of people never even give this stuff a second thought until it's too late. For me I have a nice car and a "Daily Driver". The Daily Driver I purchased used in good mechanical working order but already has a nice compliment of door dings and scratches. It's also not exactly the kind of car that is high on theft lists, which you can get from your Insurance Agent. Everyone should call their Agent BEFORE buying a car to find out how much it costs to insure. Like you said the deductible can be so high it's often not worth making a claim.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Good tips, but Will's comment is valuable too!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thieves also avoid dirty, messy cars, because they seldom have much of value inside. When I was working in high crime city, I never washed my van, and kept a plastic sack full of old, fast food containers that I scattered around when I had to park in a bad area. I was never bothered.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      These are great tips on parking-also in regards to late at night and not being attacked. If I actually lived in Vancouver, no one would bother questioning me why I don't drive. There is nowhere to park and it's very expensive. Plus, the bus system is great. But here, the bus system is sadly lacking enough routes and multiple times through routes per day.