This Is The Worst Small Damage A Car Can Have

Illustration for article titled This Is The Worst Small Damage A Car Can Have

Not everything that happens to your car over the course of its life is a big deal. Things break over time. Parts wear out. Small things fail. We either ignore and accept them or fix them and move on. But there’s one bit of small-scale damage a car can incur that, while relatively insignificant, makes life awful: the sharp, painful mockery of a broken plastic door handle.


I happened to see this very typical example on a 2001-ish Ford Explorer this weekend, and it viscerally reminded me of how much I hate broken plastic flip-up door handles.

It’s one thing if a piece of trim breaks off, or a side mirror cover, or a marker light lens. Each of those things is about the same level of damage as the broken door handle, but the broken door handle actually hurts, physically.

Until it’s fixed, you have to use it, you have to pull on that jagged, broken piece of plastic and feel it cut into your hand, mocking you for driving something that’s falling apart and being either too broke or lazy or busy or some combination of all of those, to fix it.

I think it’s even worse than the broken quarter window repaired with a plastic bag, or a rag serving duty as a gas cap. The broken flip-up plastic door handle is the cruelest way a car part can fail.

If you disagree, I’m happy to listen to your argument. If you are someone struggling with the very real pain and shame of a broken plastic flip-up door handle, please reach out and let us help you. You’re worth more than that. Go to a junkyard. Get a new handle. The color doesn’t even matter. Just free yourself from the pain.


Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:


Mercedes Streeter

The worst part is that the handle probably broke while someone was trying to open the door. The person then just stood there holding the broken piece in potentially bloody disbelief. That’s the ultimate embarrassment.

See also: Old car door that won’t close