Tore My Awning and Roof Rails from My RAV4 While Exiting Car Park. What Are My Options?

I drove our SUV into an underground car park.
Going in I was going very slowly - about 5kmh (as I noticed the 1.8m clearance sign and steel bars to protect the ceiling)and it went through just fine. 45min later I returned to the car and proceeded to another exit where the clearance was 1.9m. that exit however was chained off. I went back the way I came in from at about 10kmh(going out that exit didn't have a notice for height) and that's where the awning came in contact with the steel protector and it tore of my roof rails (they basically broke) and my awning. The awning is salvageable but not the roof rails or roof rack.
Looking at at exit now from outside, there is a bit of an angle so there's less height in the exit lane than in entry lane. Measured the height in exit lane and it comes to 1.9m.

Bit of a grey zone in my opinion. Using my usual exit I would have been fine, and at the exit lane I was forced to use the height was less than the height of my usual entry lane.
Thoughts? Options?

Diagram here:

A: entered the carpark - no issues
B: parked - later reversed out and proceeded to C
C: Exit chained off - had to reverse and return the way I came
D: the clearance in the exit lane is less than in the entry lane


  • +29

    MS Paint diagram would be great

    • +20

      Ok fine - let me draw something up.

      • +16

        are the amoutn of parking bays accurate in the diagram ?

        • +6

          Yes and they're all different sizes and shapes. Tells you everything you need to know about that centre.

      • Gotta say, those arrows are on point

  • +52

    Time for a new roof rack? What options are you looking for? Car parks won't take liability for damage to your vehicle done yourself.

    • +1

      I guess that's my question - what's the situation of liability when it comes to inconsistent heights / building / safety codes / missing signs?

      • +22

        That and of course a little bit of banter / some laughs while we're at it

      • +73

        I'd guess you are liable for any damages to the building. If that helps…

        • Just that there aren't any ;/

          • -5

            @Powlie85: Before they agree on this, they might need to get a structural engineer to assess the structural integrity of the exit/entry. There might be non-visible damages if you bump into something with a >1.5 tonne car.

      • +1

        All carparks are use at your own liability/risk I believe.

      • +4

        Well the problem there is the warning on entry says 1.8m clearance. You measured the height of the exit to be 1.9m, indicating they were being conservative with the clearance warning and your vehicle is probably over the 1.8m clearance?

    • +10

      You can't put a sign that says clearance 1.8m and then go oh no not my problem when a car under 1.8m (assuming this was the case) hits it.

      • +11

        I think in this case the car was over 1.8m, but got away with it on the way in.
        ÉDIT: as I see you have pointed out down thread.

    • +4

      "Car parks won't take liability for damage to your vehicle done yourself."

      Neither do any owners of under height road features:

      This one is between you and your insurer.

    • +1

      Time for a new roof rack?

      Time to NOT drive around with an awning on top.

      Great for camping
      Not so great for everyday driving … and not even using the dam thing!

    • +4

      Man drives into building and wants to Ozb his way out of it.

  • +2

    How high is your soccer mum car?

    Toyota RAV4
    MSRP: From AU$31,695
    Fuel economy: 4.7-7.5 l/100km combined (4.8-9.9 city, 4.7-6.3 highway)
    Fuel tank capacity: 55 L
    Towing capacity: 480 to 1,500 kg
    Dimensions: 4,600-4,615 mm L x 1,855-1,865 mm W x 1,685-1,690 mm H
    Engine: 2.0 L 4-cylinder, 2.5 L 4-cylinder

      • +29


        stop being mad

        6 foot 2 inches = 1.8796000000000002

        So you are over the 1.8…

          • +44

            @Powlie85: Did you teleport into the car park?

            • -28

              @deme: That's not how safety signs work. I could have come through another entrance genius.

          • +47

            @Powlie85: You acknowledged it on the way in, it doesn't need to exist on the way out. You've already been notified.

            • -21

              @Mechz: Citation needed. But seriously - is that your gut feel or can you back this up?

              • +7

                @Powlie85: Seems like a logical thing that they don't need to show it on the way out as there's no possibility of you driving into the car park without seeing that sign. I reckon your insurance company will reiterate this if you give them all this info.

                • @Mechz: There are 3 entrances to that carpark.

                  • +8

                    @Powlie85: Do all 3 have the same height sign identified at the entry?

                    • +17

                      @BillyStorm: I'm with you on this. I'm pretty sure that the max. height indicated is related to the car park itself, not just the entrance / exit.

                      • +2

                        @GG57: Yep, it definitely is. In fact it's fairly common, although normally they would put a hanging bar or similar at the entrance at the minimum height.

                • -1

                  @Mechz: That doesn't seem logical at all, I'm not caching that info all day, and I'm also not expecting my car that fit in to not fit out.

                  That said, I'm also not driving 5k/h creeping into parks if it would be cutting it close

            • @Mechz: fair point, but why exclude different doors may have different heights?

          • +5

            @Powlie85: They have no need and no legal reason to give you a sign on the way out, they only need to provide a sign on the way in. Assuming their clearance is 1.8M or greater any incident is your fault and you will be liable for all damages.

            • +5

              @Importmonster: Furthermore, sometimes the max clearance sign isn't just about the entrance. There might be pipes or other building structures inside the carpark that prevent taller vehicles from passing through. Rather than having a sign at every point in both directions, they post the sign at the entrances only.
              It's far more effective because a vehicle that enters without the sign at the entrance would later get stuck inside the carpark anyway.

        • It’s 1685-1690 tall.

    • +5

      You are really pushing here, normal height of the roof rack would be 7 - 10cm above the car roof.

    • +1

      towing capacity should have been enough to break the chain or tow down the height bar!

    • First thing I thought too. I'm 167cm and a RAV is head height

  • +4

    Sounds like you need a new roof rack.
    What options are you looking at pursuing?

    • +14

      One that fits a kayak?

      • +4

        Can see OP received the kayak memo too.

        • +1

          Mine is a 2012 and petrol. Thanks.

        • +6

          I had the same accident with my RAV4 and kayak on top, fortunately the kayak just slid off given Toyota don’t have racks so little/no damage was done :)

        • +1

          Well, that was an interesting read.

      • +2

        the underrated comment

      • @mskeggs IT LIVES ON!

        • +5

          If it was an inflatable kayak, you could just let it down a little. That way it would get though unscathed.

  • +6

    looks like you need to do one of these

    • -2

      Done one. This is my first ever accident in 18 years of driving across 3 continents and 4 countries .

      • +7

        Then you failed, simple task of checking your vehicles height, esp with the new addition plonked on top of your vehicle.

      • +3


        It wasn't an accident.

      • +3

        Theres always a first time.

  • +102
    • -11

      Wrong year. Shoddy work.

      • +20

        Technically I think the work is far from shoddy. I give you 9/10 as there is always room for improvement.

        • -6

          Factually wrong though. I live 30kms from the CBD, car's sadly pretty dirty, it's a 2012 and I'd like you to point out my complaint? 🤣🤦

      • +9

        Disagree, excellent post by @deme, 5/7.

    • +3

      another triumph

      bestows Ozbargain Silver

  • +4

    You could get a normal car

    • +2

      Nah - the rav4 is perfect to get the little one to daycare, green shed shopping trips, and also for camping trips.

      • +6

        Then simply be more careful.

    • +8

      There’s so many RAV4s getting around how could it not be a normal car?

      • There are obviously some 'standards' that apply to the construction of levels for car parking in buildings; I assume that this car park met those building standards.
        Those standards are probably based around what would 'normally' be accepted as a vehicle height (plus a tolerance) for using the car park floors.
        Based on OP's post, his RAV4 with roof-based accoutrements exceeded that 'standard' or 'norm'.

        • +6

          1.8m clearance is well below Australian Standards which were last updated in 2004 (AS/NZS 2890.1-2004 for off-street car parking). The standard is 2.2m measured using the wheelbase of the 99th percentile vehicle size (so if you go down a ramp when your car hits the transition, you need more than 2.2m clear height because your wheelbase will lift you higher off the ground at the point).

          2.3m is required for disabled access with 2.5m required above accessible parking spaces.

          Unfortunately many buildings in Australia either precede the standards or were built in a sub-standard way. So ultimately OP still needs to heed the warnings. Just because you fit going one way is no guarantee you'll fit going the other. Cars aren't all ideal cubes with perfect heights, a longer or shorter wheelbase will effect your clearance going under a ramp.

          OP could try and obtain the construction plans for the ramp or take a more detailed measurement of its angles and dimensions relative the to warning bar. It's possible that the warning bar 1.9m above the ramp is actually less than 1.8m clear when you take into account vehicle wheelbase.

          • @Subada: I've never seen one below 2.1 in adelaide, still quite low for many commercial vehicles.

            • @abuch47: I once attended a site in the central coast where the builder had accidentally placed the slab over the basement car park 30cm lower than intended. Standing straight my head could touch the concrete. Maybe NSW builders are just shonkier than SA lol

  • +2

    Should have stopped as soon as you made contact and let the tyres down a bit.

    Don't think you have much recourse TBH.

    • Yep - in hindsight that would have been the thing to do. Contact with the safety rail on ceiling was about 2/3rds through.

      • +11

        You made contact with the safety rail and still kept going???

        That's the warning: YOUR CAR IS TOO BIG TO FIT IN HERE.

        • The car didnt collide with the safety rail head on. I was 2/3rds through when the car touched that rail from below. Because the awning is wrapped in a soft but durable material it wasn't noticeable until parts started raining on the road.

          • @Powlie85: Aren't those safety railings hung by chains? Could have just gone through if you made it that far.

            • @ATangk: It's a steel bar in this case rather than hanging on a chain.

  • +8

    You have the option to contact your insurance to make an at-fault claim.

    • +3

      *And when the OP is deemed at fault then OP will then need to stump up the premium as well as damages and lose their no claim bonus.
      Unfortunately there's a fine line between negligence and 'accidental contact'

      Plot twist: Shopping Centre finds out about said incident and claims for damages to their property

      • Premium? You mean excess?

        • +1

          Sorry you're correct excess, then hit with the premium increases

  • +5

    Hi This is Centre Management, we would like to have a chat.


    joke post.

  • +28

    So your car is higher than 1.9m (because you made contact with the building, and you measured 1.9m at the exit), but you drove in anyway when you saw a sign saying the clearance was 1.8m, and don't think you're liable?

    • -30

      Yep - because the entry lane looked high enough & and I made it in no issues.

      • +56

        Just because the entry is high enough, doesn't mean everything else in the carpark is high enough … like the exit lane….

        • +6

          That's just common sense LOL!

        • +2

          Why is there 44 upvotes to this? If the entry height barrier is high enough, then yes, absolutely the rest of the carpark should be at least the same height or higher.

          For example, what's the point of telling you the entry clearance is 1.8m if later in the carpark you'll encounter 1.6m height at the exit and get your car stuck?

          I know that's not the situation here but your general comment here isn't right.

          • +1

            @R-Man: I mentioned this earlier here. Often, the clearance sign at the entrance isn't about the entrance itself. It could be due to low building fixtures and they don't want vehicles to enter and get stuck inside.
            The warning bar at the entrance may be a little higher to accommodate vehicles that are exactly 1.8m. As OP mentioned here, they didn't notice contact until half way out of the carpark. Perhaps they didn't actually clear it fully on the way in either and just didn't notice.

            • @S2: Well said, I think we're saying the same thing, that the entrance sign is an indicator for the whole carpark ceiling, not just the entrance. The commenter one level up was saying the opposite unless I've missed some sarcasm :O

              I agree there's human error in this situation though.

              • +3

                @R-Man: Entry to the carpark by OP's admission was a sign saying 1.8m clearance. Later in thread replies, OP stated his car was 6 foot 2 inches = 1.88m, so was already over the height specified on the sign. OP measured the exit at 1.9m.

                OP ignores the 1.8m warning and thinks just because the "entry lane looked high enough and I made it in no issues" that he's not liable.

                My reply to that was "Just because the entry is high enough, doesn't mean everything else in the carpark is high enough … like the exit lane…." meaning the 1.8m clearance may not be for the entrance, but elsewhere in the carpark (like the exit lane).

              • @R-Man: No, you just need to check your reading comprehension, because what you're saying is exactly what the commenter up said.

                Just because the entry is high enough, doesn't mean everything else in the carpark is high enough

                I.e just because the entry is high enough (to not damage your car), doesn't mean everything else in the carpark is high enough (to not damage your car).

                Which is the same point you are making, that the sign is a height warning for the entire building and not necessarily just the entrance, ergo you should not ignore signage despite being able to physically pass the entrances (as OP did in this case).

          • +1

            @R-Man: The warning gives the tallest vehicle height that can use the carpark safely. It's not logical to assume the entrance is the lowest thing at all.

      • +6

        Yep, it was 100% your own stuff up OP.

        We all stuff up sometimes, but sensible people own it and don't go blaming car parks. It's the only way to learn.

        • Oh I'll own it buddy. But I also called the centre management to tell them about an issue with their signage. Meaning one can enter through any entrance, but it's possible then to leave through the wrong exit (where there isnt a clearance height sign) and do some damage.

          • +5

            @Powlie85: How is there a problem with the signage? As lordsnipe said, your car was too high for the posted maximum height of the car park. Your 1.9m car is higher than the 1.8m they signed.

            • +2

              @SirCH: Do you know exactly how tall your car is? If you fit under a bar to go in, you should be good to continue around the whole area. The bar should be set to the lowest height so that if you hit it you know you don’t fit and if you don’t, you can fit.

              • +1

                @Euphemistic: 1.78m. Anybody who drives a car that's not a hatch really should know the height of their car for exactly this reason. Same applies if you rent a car or are driving somebody else's car.
                However from a legal standpoint, the max height signs will cover the car park operator. I know because we had to install them. The hanging warning things are often in place to prevent damage (it could be a sprinkler system that's low so they don't want that to be hit)
                Example is Montague St Bridge. The max height signs were good enough from a legal standpoint but they installed the dangling doovalickies to try and prevent damage to the bridge, emergency services calls etc. And yet idiots still manage to hit the damn bridge. You can't beat stupid.

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