Should You Leave a Note if You Hit Someone’s Car?

Natalie Josef
October 26, 2011

Parking in San Francisco sucks—there are no two ways about it. Parking is limited, expensive, and frustrating, and then we have to contend with street sweeping, people who double park, and people who take up two precious spots. Parking can be so stressful that, when I get a good spot, I try to keep it for as long as I can. On nights before street sweeping, I won’t even go out past 5pm so I won’t lose my spot.

Parking is a surefire way to get me going, but I have learned to accept that it will always be annoying and difficult. You learn to accept a lot of things when you live in a city—street poo, panhandlers, noise, etc.—otherwise you would just go crazy.

A few months ago, my neighbor told me that he saw a red Prius hit my car. Sure enough, the side mirror was cracked. I also have chips in the paint of the rear of my car from people tapping it while parking. When I see the damage, I am incensed; but then I cool down and think that there are more important things than a perfect paint job. Like I said, you learn to accept things, especially things you can’t change. Plus, isn’t that what bumpers are for?

When I was growing up, I was told that if I ever hit a car, I should leave a note with all of my information on it. But in my life, I have never seen anyone leave a note, nor has a note been left for me when someone hit my car. So I wonder, is leaving a note still standard protocol when you hit someone’s vehicle? Or is kissing bumpers just part of city life?

If I just tapped someone’s car, I would probably just drive away. But if I did some serious damage, I’d like to think I’d leave a note. Even though it’s cliché—or maybe a little dorky—I still like to treat others as I would like to be treated. If someone damaged my car, I would expect a note.

So, what should we do? If the damage is cosmetic, can we just leave a note saying we’re sorry? What is to be gained by leaving a note anyway? Are they seriously going to get that paint chip fixed? Should we be completely honest, or just realistic, knowing that most people wouldn’t leave a note regardless of how serious the damage is?

What do you think?

Natalie Josef

About the Author

Natalie Josef is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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