This article features methods of finding parking areas and positioning my vehicle in ways I've deemed safe. Feel free to apply them.
My practice of caring for automobiles evolved over time. I once was like any other motorist, but learned to achieve optimal vehicle preservation by scrutinizing every scenario. This definitely applies more now, especially when I have a test unit under my responsibility. Here are some of my methods:
1) Find a slot wide enough to keep you from dinging distance. Sadly, due to lack of room in urban areas, every millimeter of parking space must be utilized. This results in cramped spaces, unless you've stumbled upon some garages that have extra room to swing your doors wide open without worry of panel-to-panel contact.
2) Always go for single slot spaces in open or indoor parking garages. If you end up finding a slot between a parked car and wall/column, maximize every inch of space nearest to the latter. After all, walls and columns don't have moving parts. As a courtesy, do let your passengers egress before situating your vehicle.
When you end up with no choice but to be sandwiched between two vehicles, you can adjust your positioning with these in mind:
* Observe what vehicles they are and their condition. I would never park near a car that's been neglected or full of aesthetic damage. Example: You are between a van and a poorly maintained sports car. Park closer to the van (staying within your slot) and make sure the long door of the sports car can swing open without hitting your car. Though the van may have a sliding door, don't get awfully close to it as its passengers may be careless. Also consider the van's front doors still swing open. If you can safely back up past the front doors' opening trajectory, do so. They have sharp edges at the bottom portion that can damage your fenders.
If backing up further isn't possible, you can also slightly angle your car away from the front portion of the van while still maintaining safe distance from the other car to allow ample room on both sides.
* If a space is too tight, simply move on and find a better spot. Unless it's an utter emergency, the damage your vehicle may incur from poor parking selection will not be justified by your lack of patience and care.
* Check for potential falling debris or pipes running above your car. I've had an instance in which a leaking pipe caused chemical burns and stains on my paint.
3) People aim for convenience. Hence, they tend to park in spaces closest to a building's entrance. I've developed the habit to go for the farthest slots, especially when inside a mall garage due to less traffic and a higher chance of finding an ideal space. Just check for security and CCTV presence for added peace of mind. Hey, you end up walking farther than most but it's good exercise!
Example: When I go to the mall, I avoid the newer parking garages where most vehicles crowd up. Instead, I park my car in an old basement garage, which I dubbed "the bat cave." Turns out, it has numerous single spaces. I've never had any issues there.
4) When parallel parking, park as close as possible to the sidewalk or curb. Also, be further inward compared to the vehicles in front and behind you to create a buffer zone from passing vehicles. It would be good to check if that SUV or van right ahead has parking sensors. If none, allow a few more inches of extra room for human error. Avoid being the first vehicle parked by an intersection or corner to lessen the chances of a mishap.
5) When it comes to outdoor parking, never forget to check what's overhead as you would in an indoor facility. It's never a good idea to park under huge or tall trees with long branches, including the fruit-bearing types like mangoes or coconuts. This is especially important during times of the year when we have abrupt thunderstorms or heavy downpours.
6) Gravity can be both friend and foe. Such is the case when parking in uneven paved/sloping lots. When vehicles are tilted sideways due to the inclination of the area, position your car further from the adjacent vehicle higher than you and move closer towards the vehicle below you. Even though the passengers of the vehicle higher than you may be cautious when opening doors, gravity might draw the door further outward to hit your sides. The car lower than you is much less of a worry given gravity will push its doors inward when passengers get off or enter.