The Downsides of Street Parking Your Car

Illustration for article titled The Downsides of Street Parking Your Car
Photo: Erik Shilling

I can’t remember when I first noticed the scratches on my rear bumper, which run the gamut from understandable little nicks to more violent gashes, but when I finally did the sheer volume and variety stood out. Sometime ago the bumper cover also became dislodged, necessitating tape to keep it attached at speed. Finally, this weekend, the front bumper cover partially detached as well, and I reached a breaking point.

I haven’t been in an accident in the five years that I’ve owned my 2008 Honda Fit Sport; the body damage was from street parking the car in New York City—bit by bit, then all at once. The latest damage I noticed Sunday morning, when I went to retrieve my car from its spot on my block and take it in for its annual state-mandated inspection. The damage was obvious, the apparent victim of a collision while it had been parked, or the victim of an overly-aggressive parallel parker, exact time and date unknown. It must’ve been between when I had parked the car on Wednesday and when I went to drive it again that morning, and while I don’t know exactly what happened, I’m imagining a situation like in this YouTube vid.

Anyway, here’s what it looked like, nothing catastrophic but still not pretty:

Illustration for article titled The Downsides of Street Parking Your Car
Photo: Erik Shilling

I’ve come to accept that (some) light tapping of other cars happens when you’re street parking your car in NYC. And while I don’t make a habit of it, others aren’t as careful. Which is fine, honestly! Street parking is a savage game, and if you want to guarantee your car won’t be messed with, you’ll have to pony up for a garage spot. I don’t because I drive a 10-year-old Fit; garage fees for a year would amount to $2,500 or more, about half the car’s value in total.

Street parking for me is the only sensible option. Some people take steps to mitigate the inevitable gouges with rubber bumper protectors, which are very popular in the city. In truth, I was fine the rear-end nicks. They didn’t affect the crash-worthiness, and there was a certain amount of freedom in them—what was another scratch when there were already scores. The front bumper was a different matter, though—not only was it unsightly, it began to look and feel shakier than the rest.

All of which meant that, at my first opportunity—this morning, in Queens—I was at a body shop, dropping the car off for repairs which I was told might take a week or two. Combined with all the other money I’ve sunk into the Fit recently—$1,600 for new brakes and air conditioning condenser, $600 for new tires, $150 soon for a new battery—I felt like this final repair might be the end of the road for a bit.

The powertrain’s in good shape; there’s a timing chain instead of a belt, meaning a replacement won’t be needed anytime soon; it just passed NY inspection fine; there’s very little rust; and I just put 1,200 miles on it on a trip home, the car driving as well as ever with around 62,000 miles on the odometer.


Everything’s perfect!

[Notices a dashboard light flick on indicating the Tire Pressure Management System needs repaired.]


Oh, goddammit, nevermind.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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son of a motherless goat (PSA: wash your hooves)

I’m starting to think NYC isn’t a great place to own a car. More research needed. Follow up on this one, Erik.