Over the years, there have been many automotive inventions that are extremely intelligent and useful and others that have not been. Take the extending sun visor, for example. It’s brilliant and it fills in that one spot of sun that never seems to get covered.
Soft-close doors, on the other hand, are only somewhat brilliant because they’re an answer to an issue not too many people have: passengers slamming your car doors. But that made us wonder: Is it bad to slam a “soft close” door?
What is a “soft close” door?
Soft-close doors are cars doors that close automatically and quietly. According to Autobytel, when the door is approximately a quarter-inch from being completely closed, a sensor activates an electric motor to pull the door closed. The system activates whenever a door is closed in order to ensure that it closes completely.
The theory behind the mechanism is that all the doors will be able to close completely without any loud or unpleasant noises. As you can imagine, soft-close doors can typically be found in luxury cars like Mercedes-Benz and BMWs.
Issues with soft-close doors
Cars are sturdy and solid, however, slamming a car door repeatedly can cause a lot of wear and tear over time. According to Car Roar, slamming a car door can dent the metal and cause the whole door mechanism to malfunction. That’s essentially why soft close doors exist; to prevent damage to the door mechanism from slamming.
And while the purpose of a soft-close door is to prevent or curtail any damages from slamming, it is not without its faults. In fact, Car Complaints details a recall issue concerning over 45,000 BMW 7 Series models, produced from 2005 to 2007, that had issues with doors opening on the freeway due to failing sensors and latches. That goes to show that no car mechanism is perfect and even soft-close doors are prone to failure over time.
Another issue is that soft-close doors can also cause injuries. This story from Consumer Affairs discusses a lawsuit concerning an owner and her 2012 BMW 750Li. The plaintiff said that the door was allegedly halfway open when she rested her hand on the door frame. The soft-close door then activated and “mangled her thumb.” Her orthopedist went on to say that is was the “worst bone-crushing injury” he’d ever seen.
The main point here is that soft-close doors can be helpful in preventing passengers from doing damage from slamming car doors. But the irony is that the soft-close door mechanism can be damaged from slamming and even cause personal injury in some cases.
Is it worth it to have my car retrofitted with soft-close doors?
There are aftermarket companies that sell soft-close door mechanisms for older cars and even minivans with the intent that they will prevent harmful slamming. Unless you really want the “luxury” of having your car doors close softly every time, then we would suggest skipping this modification.
From what we can tell, they’re most likely not worth the money and effort of installing them and it’s possible that they can do some harm to you and your passengers.