Always check your car for sneaky damage before driving away from a valet parking service.

Sneaky damage happens often.

Sneaky damage on a brand new Honda Civic.

Sneaky damage on a brand new Honda Civic.

For some people, if a scratch happens it's no big deal. But for most, new damage is intolerable and upsetting.

In most cases, when a valet damages a car, they will pretend everything is fine while handing the keys back to you and waiting for their tip, even if the bumper is hanging off.

And typically the valet customer assumes their car was handled perfectly and they assume that even if there was a problem, the valet company's insurance would handle any issue. 

So people become very surprised when they later find new damage on their car after driving away. And they become more surprised with the brush-off they receive from the valet service after making their issue known.

It turns out, once you drive away from the valet service, it becomes a lot more difficult to get cooperation and compensation out of them for the damage they caused. They say:

"Since you left the lot, a fair determination of where the damage actually happened cannot be made, so we must regretfully deny your claim."

And you may be saying "What the hell? It was dark. It was raining. How could I see the damage?" And they'll say:

"Sorry. We don't think it's our fault."

And then you are posting on Twitter or Facebook about how you can't believe the valet service screwed you over.

Valet parking services are experts at dodging damage claims... because they have a lot of experience in doing this, and because it's vital to their bottom line that they avoid paying-out on claims as much as possible.

You might be wondering... "Doesn't their insurance cover damage they caused?" 

Sure, after the deductible is reached, which could be $5000, $10,000, even as high as $25,000.

So you see, every damage incident that a valet parking company gets hit with is very costly. They will squirm out of damage claims if at all possible.

The next time you valet park, do not trust that they parked your car flawlessly. You must verify that they did their job correctly by doing your own vehicle damage audit upon receiving the car back. 

You don't just do a quick walk around the car. Instead, you stop at each wheel and scan the outer edges of the rim for fresh scrapings. If you see white dust on a tire sidewall, that means they just grinded that wheel against a curb. Take a photo of it. 

Look around each section of the car, especially each of the four corners and under the front of the car. Wheels, corners and under the front air-dam are the most likely places for damage.

Then look for new dings on the sides. View from straight on and then from angles, moving your head around to look at the sides from different vantage points. 

Take your time. And use a flashlight if it is dark. If you skip this important step, it could come back to bite you later. You need to find any new damage BEFORE you drive away. It doesn't matter if you are clogging up their whole driveway and people are yelling at you. Screw them. This is how it has to be done. You must finish your inspection before you drive away.

If everything is okay, then it is appropriate the leave the valet a departure tip.


More about what to tip valets HERE.

Precisely how to use valet parking services HERE.

What to do after a valet parking service damages your car HERE.