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Damaged Car Door
January 10, 2012 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Got in a car accident, car is damaged on the driver side door so that I can't open it or roll down the window. I need to roll down the window to swipe a parking pass to get into a garage, so what should I do?

The accident occurred on December 2nd as me and my wife were going through an intersection on a yellow light. A car going the opposite direction turned left into the driver side of our car. Thankfully, everybody was fine aside from a few bruises. And the car is fine except for the driver side door which is jammed and the window won't roll down.

We have liability only insurance so we are relying on their insurance to pay. Week after week we have been waiting to hear whether or not liability has been determined, but the claim is still marked as undetermined.

My wife went back to school this week and she uses a parking pass to get into the parking garages there. In order to do this she needs to be able to roll down the driver side window, but the damage to the car prevents her from doing this. Luckily they leave the gates open the first week or so. But that time is quickly coming to an end.

I tried to work on the car myself, but I'm afraid of doing more damage to the car than there already is. I just can't get it to budge. If I could get it to open then I could take the inside trim off and bang it out with a hammer so that the window rolls down, but I can't even get that far.

We went to a body shop yesterday where they told us that the car (a 2003 kia spectra) is essentially totaled and that we shouldn't bother with it, and the bill would be more than we could afford anyway.

So what do I do now? Both in the long term and the short term? Focusing more on the short term though.
posted by symbollocks to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Our window refuses to roll down in the winter and we also have a parking pass. Pull slightly forward of the badge scanner, put car in park, unclick seatbelt, open door, reach around door with pass in hand. Try not to piss off person behind you.
posted by desjardins at 3:03 PM on January 10, 2012


Long term, don't drive the car. It's dangerous.
posted by The Lamplighter at 3:04 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can she not pull forward, put the car in park, open the door, and reach the swiper? Even with the window down, I often have to open my door to get at the thingy because I drive a normal-sized car rather than a monster truck.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:05 PM on January 10, 2012


Could you possibly reach the badge scanner through the driver side rear window? Perhaps pull slightly more forward, roll that window down, tilt your seat back, and scan through that window? You may need a bit of flexibility to pull this off...
posted by nasayre at 3:07 PM on January 10, 2012


We cannot open the driver's door, so she can't swipe her pass that way. She tried to put the car in park, put the seat all the way back and all the way down, roll down the back window, and swipe, but there appear to be weights that won't allow the gate to open if the car is pulled too far forward.
posted by symbollocks at 3:10 PM on January 10, 2012


The car's dangerous without a driver's side door. I have to agree with The Lamplighter. I don't know how much doors cost at a scrapyard, and whether there's any damage to the frame of the car outside of that, but there's really no other suggestion I have than you try to put a new door in. Doesn't matter how much you damage the existing trim trying to get it out, because you'll have the scrapheap one available for you.
posted by ambrosen at 3:18 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


She'll look like a fool, but what if she backs her car up to the gate, then opens the passenger's side window and swipes the card that way? Back through the gates and swing the car around once in the lot..
posted by jabes at 3:23 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


construct some sort of curved or right-angled device that can be snaked out the back driver's side window, holding the parking pass at the end of it?
posted by daisystomper at 3:30 PM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Put car in park, slide out of passenger side, walk up to scanner, scan pass, boot it quickly back into car, pull through?
posted by tristeza at 3:35 PM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Contact your insurance company. Let them know that the delay in getting the other company to pay is presenting a problem, because of the issue you're describing. Ask their advice on how to proceed, both from a "facilitating a prompt repair from the other company" perspective, and from a "paying it up front while waiting for the other company, and what pitfalls await us if we do this" perspective.

Meanwhile, go talk to the people who run the parking lot, and ask them if they have any suggestions; perhaps knowing about the problem, they'll be willing to give you a phone number to call and have someone meet you out there or something.
posted by davejay at 3:35 PM on January 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Medium term, you need to escalate the claims process. It is entirely unreasonable that they have not even determined liability yet after five weeks. Make a stink: fax, email, call, speak to supervisors, etc.. Demand that they pay for a rental car for you as your vehicle is "not driveable." You need to use those exact words -- it doesn't matter that the engine still works, the car is unsafe and a functioning driver's side door is not a cosmetic thing.
posted by argonauta at 3:39 PM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Your car is unusable. Not being able to use the driver's side window or door presents a real danger to the occupants.

Get the body shop's recommendation in writing, including a confirmation that the driver's side door and window do not work. Then go rent a car and use that instead. It is entirely standard for an insurance company to pay for use of a rental car if the current car is not drivable.
posted by googly at 3:51 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please stop driving this car; it sounds like it has a major structural flaw. What if someone T-boned you again? There's nothing there -- the driver would likely be killed. What if the car slid on ice and spun out, and the only escape was from the driver's side? Can't get out, etc., etc.

Follow googly's advice.
posted by ellF at 3:57 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


A jammed door doesn't necessarily mean major structural damage to a car - a fairly minor dent to the door surround can do that. Still, it is a bit dangerous from a getting out in an emergency situation, but may be that you have no choice but to keep using it in the short term. If that's the case, it might make sense to put something in the vehicle like a safety hammer with which one can break the glass in an emergency.
posted by prentiz at 4:37 PM on January 10, 2012


I hate to break this to you - this may be confirmation bias - but I've never seen the other car's insurance come through for me. I've been at fault and mine did, but never the other guy for me.
posted by notned at 4:55 PM on January 10, 2012


Does the car have four doors? Does the window behind her roll down? Because on my car I could just pull past the reader, roll down the back window, and reach behind me, albeit a bit uncomfortably, and swipe through the back window.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 5:16 PM on January 10, 2012


After five weeks, I think I'd be speaking to a lawyer. You don't mention if you got a police report. Did you get one? Was the other driver cited?
posted by MegoSteve at 5:27 PM on January 10, 2012


You need to get your insurance company on this to pressure the other insurance company to act. This is part of what you pay them for.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:43 AM on January 11, 2012


She'll look like a fool, but what if she backs her car up to the gate, then opens the passenger's side window and swipes the card that way? Back through the gates and swing the car around once in the lot..

Same issue as with pulling up and going out the back window.

Put car in park, slide out of passenger side, walk up to scanner, scan pass, boot it quickly back into car, pull through?

The gate comes down before you can crawl back in.

Then go rent a car and use that instead.

Just too expensive, and no long term benefits.
posted by symbollocks at 7:22 AM on January 11, 2012


EDIT:
Our insurance will only cover a rental car if that is part of your insurance plan, which it isn't on ours. Neither of us have ever had an accident so I didn't include that option.

There is extensive damage to the driver's side door. We did get one estimate earlier this week and we were told they would have to even see how far in the dent is into the body before they wanted to do work on it. We were told that our car may even be considered as being totaled out, because to get it back to the condition it was in will cost more than the car is even worth, at this point.
posted by symbollocks at 7:29 AM on January 11, 2012


Don't do this, it's unsafe. The driver needs to be able to get out of the car quickly in case of an emergency.
posted by radioamy at 7:55 AM on January 11, 2012


Just to be clear, it's the other driver's insurance company who should pay for your rental, not yours. Don't rest until you get them to start processing your claim. They are being negligent by letting it go on this long.
posted by argonauta at 8:16 AM on January 11, 2012


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