Tips from Used Car Advisor

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.


What are the Sponges on Korean Car Doors? - Vol.425

Something strange is happening in South Korea. Foreign visitors are noticing little blue sponges on all the cars. Whether the vehicle is a minivan or a luxury car, they most likely have small rectangular sponges attached to the side.

As it turns out, there is a perfectly good reason why most cars in Korea are suddenly sprouting cleaning supplies. And the reason may be ingenious. Or silly, depending on your perspective.

But this trend has continued to include a variety of sponge shapes, sizes, and colors to further personalize your vehicle. Do you want to know why there's a sponge craze? Keep reading to find out.

Car Door Ding Legacy in Asian Nations
Space is tight in many Asian countries. And South Korea is no stranger to limited spaces. That also includes parking spaces.

No matter how careful you are or how compact your car is, you're bound to get dings on the side of your car sooner or later.

The Blue Sponge Solution
This is where the blue sponges come in. But they aren't the brainchild of some enterprising inventor. They're remnants of the car being shipped from the manufacturer's factory. Think "packing peanuts" for cars.

Manufacturers put these on car doors to protect them during transit. That's why they have such a uniform appearance. But you haven't seen them before until now.


Typically, when a new car arrives at a dealership, they remove all packing material including those little blue sponges. But an increasing number of customers are asking dealers to keep the sponges on the car.

Another Status Symbol
Additionally, these car door protectors may have the added benefit of being a status symbol. Having a bright blue door sponge tells others you just bought a new car. Many older cars you may see on the road don't have this blue door sponge. So it lets others know that you have the means to buy a new vehicle.

Yes, the blue sponges may be a bit unsightly for some people. But it does a reasonable protection job so many are getting used to seeing them. And the trend, while a common sight in South Korea, is being picked up by neighboring countries.

Aftermarket Door Sponges
If you like your little blue door sponge, you know that eventually they'll get dirty. Or they may deteriorate from wear. When that happens, what can you do?

Buying a new car is impractical. And resigning yourself to dings is unacceptable, especially since you've spent so much energy preventing them in the first place.

Luckily you do have replacement options. Many companies sell aftermarket door sponges in different shapes and colors to replace those little blue rectangle. Some are brightly colored and meant to draw the eye. But you also have the choice of replacing that bright blue sponge with understated dark colors that may blend with your car's paint job better.

These aren't all-over body shields for your car, so placement is key. Ideally, you'll place your door protector sponge in areas that protect it when you open your door. But you can also think of it as a neighboring car when you open the door in tight spaces.

Final Thought
This trend is a few years old, but it doesn't show any signs of stopping soon. Because tight parking spaces and careless drivers may always be a problem in South Korea, there's a chance that car door protectors are here to stay.

So the next time you buy a new car, tell the dealer to keep those door sponges on. Not only can they help prevent door dings, but they also let the rest of the world know you've just bought a new car. And there are not many things on the market that are both a status symbol and practical protection all rolled into one.