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Ford door protector takes the sting out of dings

Thu, 22 Sep 2011

Nothing ruins car joy like a door ding--whether it's the first blemish on your pride and joy or the latest door divot.

Now, the engineers at Ford in Europe have developed a way to take the sting out of the parking lot--a retractable door-edge protector for the Ford Focus.

It's no surprise that this comes from Europe, where roads are narrow and parking spaces are squeezed tight.

Here's how it works:

-- The spring-loaded protector is mounted on the back edge of each door. When a Focus door is opened, the rubber protector flips into position and covers the door edge. The cover minimizes damage if the door edge hits a wall or barrier, and helps protect body panels of cars parked in the next space over.

-- When the door is closed, a pushpin in the front edge of the door pulls on an interior cable to retract the edge cover.

Ford officials in the United States say they have no plans right now to offer the door protector here. But they said they will watch to see how popular it is in Europe and might change their minds later.

"Any system that can reduce the risk of damage to your own or someone else's vehicle is worthy of recognition, but one that operates so effectively without affecting the looks or performance is particularly noteworthy," said Matthew Avery, crash and safety research manager at Thatcham, a U.K. motor-insurance repair research center.

By Julie Alvin