Dear Tom and Ray:
I have just leased a 2005 Toyota Sienna van. The outside width, including the side mirrors, is 88 inches. The inside width of my single-stall garage door is 93 inches. This means I have to be a pretty good driver to get the vehicle into and out of the garage. I can rotate the mirrors toward the body of the vehicle to gain more clearance, but then I can't see when I am backing up. Do you have any suggestions that would help guide me with the mirrors in the driving position? I would truly appreciate any solutions you might have. -- David
TOM: You've probably noticed, David, that minivans are not so "mini" anymore. They've been getting longer and wider with each successive generation ... to the point where a Toyota Sienna is now nearly as wide as a Ford Expedition!
RAY: And you've obviously noticed, as well, that garage doors are not expanding at nearly the same rate. Which is why you have a tight squeeze.
TOM: Here's what I would do. You certainly want to fold the mirrors on the way in. That'll give you a couple of extra inches on each side. Then, line up the van and drive it straight in. When you back out, don't move the steering wheel.
RAY: Right. I have a similar situation at my house, which was built when cars were much narrower.
TOM: And, incidentally, when my brother was much narrower!
RAY: But I find if I don't touch the steering wheel, I can go backward on the same exact path that I came in on, and navigate the garage-door pillars without a problem.
TOM: Of course, it took huevos of steel for him to try it the first time! But it worked!
RAY: You get into trouble when you try to steer your way out a different way than you came in. But if you just don't move the steering wheel, and just back straight out, you should be able to get out without needing to redeploy the flaps -- I mean mirrors.
TOM: And for everyone else, this is a good reminder to make sure the car you're about to buy will fit into your garage before you buy it. Home remodeling is expensive. Especially if you do the demolition with your new car.