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Protecting Your Garage Door From, Of All Things, Your Car

by Sara Cook

New homeowners who are used to apartment parking lots and street parking may rejoice now that they have a garage of their own. If you're one of these people, congratulations, but be aware that you do have to be careful with your garage and especially the door.

You usually hear about keeping your garage door in good shape through cleaning, maintenance, and inspections. What that advice normally doesn't address is protecting your garage door from your car. Whether you park in your driveway or pull the car all the way into the garage, you need to know where the ends of your car are with regard to the door. That way, you don't hit the door or find the door closing on your rear bumper.

The Tennis Ball Trick

When you pull the car into the garage, it needs to be as far inside as possible without hitting anything you have against the back wall. That gives the door plenty of room to close. However, if you have anything against the wall, like laundry machines or a workspace, you need adequate space between your car and the objects. It's common to overcompensate and either park too far in, thus blocking whatever is against the back wall, or too close to the door, which increases the chances of damage both to your car and the door. The best way to mark where your car should be is to use a tennis ball (or similarly weighted but soft item) hanging from the garage ceiling.

Looking for External Markers

If you use the garage for storage and need to park in the driveway, that will be very easy to do in most cases. But in areas like HOA developments, where houses can be on hills and have steep driveways, or in older areas where driveways may be kind of small, it's not so easy unless you know exactly where to place your car. The risk is that you'll give the car a last bit of gas to edge it forward and then accidentally head right into the garage door.

It's easier to find visual cues that you can see from the driver's seat, such as sidewalk borders, planter edges, and so on, that line up with parts of your car. For example, maybe the top edge of your side mirror seems to visually line up with the top edge of a planter box next to the garage when your car is parked fully in a small driveway without touching the garage door or hanging out onto the sidewalk.

If you have a marker you can look for, then you can adjust how you park without risking a collision with the door. And if the worst happens and you tap the door or the door starts to close on your bumper, get the door repaired as fast as possible.