Some car doors can never be unopened.
July 3, 2014 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I haven't opened the rear passenger side door of my car since it was damaged, months ago. The question is, if I open the door, will I be able to close it again?

Images are here: one, two, three.

Car was backed into six months ago. I filed an insurance claim, and both the assessor and the mechanic that looked at the car asked me if I had opened the damaged door yet. When I said no, I hadn't, they advised that I leave the door shut in case it fails to close again. For reasons involving procrastination and ambivalence, I neither had the car repaired or ever opened the damaged door. For six months.

Now I am starting to wonder about opening the door, as it would be convenient to have the thing in working order. If I open it, have a hammer and a handy friend nearby, do you think it's likely we'd be able to bang the thing into shape? What, exactly, keeps a door from being able to close after being dented from a collision? Something we might be able to fix? Or, pay someone to fix for, say, less than 100 USD? If it's much pricier a repair than that-- and, I'm not talking about making the car look pretty, just getting the door to open, close, and keep the lock working, I'll probably stick to having three working doors. But, if anyone has some informed opinions on the subject, I just might roll the dice. I know the pictures I'm posting aren't terribly helpful.
posted by little_dog_laughing to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total)
I've had a few cars like this.

The issue is that if the door is misaligned (because it's bent to hell) , the latch won't catch.

The only way to know if the door will close is to try it, but as they say, it might not. If you are willing to take that risk and try to fix it, you can try. It's not exactly rocket science to get the door to close again, but it is an open question as to how reliably it will operate.

Also, there is a non-trivial risk of it popping open while driving. At high speeds, the wind will keep it from flying open, but at lower than about 30MPH... Just best to be cautious with it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:38 AM on July 3, 2014

From the pictures I wouldn't be surprised if the door wouldn't open anyway. The latch mechanism is generally near where the door handle is, and the way the panel is bent plus the door makes me think the whole mechanism has been moved also. Did you get a settlement check? The amount and parts list from the the shop/mechanic should give you and idea of the extent of probably damage to the mechanism.
posted by Big_B at 11:10 AM on July 3, 2014

It's a toss-up as to whether it will open at all, and whether it would close again if it did open.
I would seriously try to revive the insurance claim and get it fixed completely. There's no telling just how bad the basic mechanical damage is unless it's opened. It's definitely more than a $100 fix, though, even for the basics.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:23 PM on July 3, 2014

If the door doesn't leak, I wouldn't open it. Unless the internal window stuff is pristine, nobody is gonna fix that, they're gonna put on a new door.

Not knowing at all where you are, or what make/model/year the car is makes it a tad problematic to offer advice, but what I'd do is call a local junkyard and see what they'd charge for a right rear door of an 2006 Ford Whatever just to get an idea of what kind of price you're looking at. You may have a problem finding anything approaching your color.

If the body part of the door, or rather the gap where the door fits is altered, (which it doesn't look like in your case, but I can't be sure) then it's gonna be real expensive to try and bend the frame.

Get that claim back up and running and follow through this time.
posted by Sphinx at 4:54 PM on July 3, 2014

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