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True cost of car park prangs

 Published 30th October 2023
General Guides 

We know everyone talks about road safety and avoiding accidents by driving responsibly. What we don't always talk about is the fact the most common causes of damage to our cars occur at very low speeds. We're talking about car park prangs of course.

According to safety organisation Gem, “Slow speed manoeuvring and ‘hit-while-parked' incidents remain amongst the most common collision types reported by drivers.” Not good considering figures show repair costs have risen 40% in the past five years.

Luckily, those little dings and scrapes are easily avoidable just by slowing down a little and being aware of how big your car is.

While they can be easy to pick up, the cost of repairing them can seem disproportionately large. Ignoring them isn't really an option either as they can seriously affect your car's value. Not an issue if you drive an old banger, but if your car involves some kind of lease lease or contract hire arrangement then it could wind up being very costly if you don't deal with them sooner rather than later.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show we spend an average £21 billion on vehicle maintenance, parts and repairs each year.

Although the cost of repairing a car park prang can be relatively modest compared with other, more serious knocks, the cost of repairs to bumpers, doors and other bodywork or replacement parts has gone up quite significantly, thanks to rising spare part costs and the requirement for expensive re-calibrations of car safety sensors. On top of the cost, you've also got to deal with the nuisance and down-time of needing a repair at all, as well as the inevitable effect a claim has on an insurance policy.

In the second quarter of this year alone, the average premium for comprehensive motor insurance was up 7% on the previous quarter. The current average premium is 21% higher compared to this time last year. The rising costs of repairs, largely driven by global markets and therefore out of our hands, has inevitably led to insurance companies passing on those extra costs in the shape of heftier premiums. In some cases, insurance companies have been paying out more on repairs than they've taken in premiums across their whole business so they have very little choice but to put their prices up.

It's especially infuriating when you consider that a large part of this could be avoided just by more careful parking.

There are ways of minimising the risk of damage and injury by taking things slowly and having a parking plan. This involves a few checks before you move, making best use of any parking aids and doing everything slowly.

To help drivers avoid parking prangs, GEM Motoring Assist has offered a selection of simple parking tips.

Top top tips to avoid parking prangs

  • Carry out a check of all your mirrors every time you get in your vehicle.

  • Familiarise yourself with your car's length, height, and width. Some car parks may have narrower parking spaces or lower ceilings than you're used to.
  • Don't rush. Plan your journey to allow time for parking, then make sure you choose somewhere suitable and safe.
  • Check around for low bollards and high kerbs which can disappear from sight as you park.
  • If you have parking aids, cameras and warning buzzers fitted, make sure you understand them and can make good use of them.
  • Take a moment to plan your exit before you drive out of the parking space. How close are you to other vehicles? Walls? Kerbs? How tight will your turn need to be? You can also ask a passenger to be an extra pair of eyes to see you in and out safely.

Anything you can do to prevent a costly bump in the car park is going to help you keep hold of what little cash you might still carry in your pocket.

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