How to Master Parallel Parking

May 1, 2019

parallel parking

Many people go through their daily lives without having to parallel park. You might have a regular parking spot at your home, your place of work, and the businesses you frequent.

We’re all subjected to the occasional trip to a big city, however, meaning that we’ll have to try our hands at parallel parking. The act of parallel parking is perceived to be very difficult, but this just isn’t so.

We’re going to go over the process so you feel more comfortable the next time you have to squeeze into a tight spot or parallel park for your driver’s test.

The Art of Parallel Parking

You should have gotten a lesson in parallel parking when you went to drivers education. With that said, the skill of parking is lost if you don’t have to use it.

It’s understandable that you would forget the specifics of parking methods if you don’t have an opportunity or need to use them. Additionally, changing cars can throw your entire process out of whack.

You might have gotten used to the dimensions of one car, only to find that you’re clueless when it comes to parallel parking a new vehicle. There’s a method to the madness, though, and we’re here to help you out.

Sizing up the Spot

Seeing as parallel parking is often done in extremely hectic circumstances, you won’t have time to stop your car and measure up the spot you’re trying to park in.

There are normally angry drivers behind you and oncoming traffic zooming by, stirring up your anxiety. This is why the act of parallel parking is so stressful in the first place.

With that in mind, you want to make sure that you find a spot that’s got enough room. If you might be able to squeeze in, move along and find a new spot. A closer spot isn’t worth the possibility of bumping into another car or getting bumped when other cars move.

It’s recommended that you find a spot with around one-and-a-half times the length of your own vehicle. That much space will give you enough room to make small mistakes and correct for them.

Approach and Set up

As you near the spot you’re going to park in, you must put on a blinker in the direction of the spot. This will normally be the right-hand side unless you’re driving on a one-way street, in which case you might signal left.

You should start the process of parking by situating your car parallel with the car that you’ll be parked behind. If there were a driver in that car, you would start the process by being eye to eye with them.

The Hard Part: Backing in

Once you’re parallel with the car you’ll be parked behind, put your car in reverse and back to the point where the bumper of the other car is parallel with the midpoint of your vehicle.

In many vehicles, this means that you won’t be able to see the neighboring car out of your furthest back-right window. That might be different depending on the windows of your vehicle.

Once there, make sure that there are no cars passing you or coming in the opposite direction. This depends on the size of the road as well. If your front end would move out into the opposite lane when you turn, wait for all traffic to pass.

When you’re free to go, crank your steering wheel all the way toward the parking spot. With the wheel all the way turned, begin to move in reverse. You should be moving in a roughly 45-degree angle.

You will want to keep backing until your passenger-side rearview mirror is parallel with the back bumper of the car you’ll be behind. Once your mirror is side-by-side with the bumper, turn your wheel all of the way back in the opposite direction.

Situating Your Vehicle in Its Spot

Moving in reverse once your wheel is turned the opposite direction, you should find that you’re quickly in the parking spot. Your bumpers should be parallel with the cars in front and back of you, and the side of your vehicle should be in line with the curb.

Ideally, you will be two or two and one-half feet away from the curb on the passenger side. You should also be evenly spaced between the cars in front and back of you.

This can be a difficult thing to manage, especially if the spot is tight. It’s alright to get out of your car and see how much room you have at this point. In fact, it’s reasonable to hop out quickly if you’re unsure at any point as to whether you’re going to hit a car or not.

In most cases, you can trust your gut because the spot should provide enough space for a little error. When situated, make sure that you’re giving other cars enough room to maneuver out, otherwise, you could get bumped.

Other Options for Parallel Parking

A lot of newer vehicles give you the option of automatic parallel parking. In other words, the cars just parallel park themselves.

This is pretty crazy, and it might seem scary if you’ve never done it. Rest assured, your automatically parking vehicle will do a job that’s on par with, if not better than what us humans can do.

If that’s out of your price range and you’re still scared to parallel park, don’t sweat it. It’s not illegal to take your time and be careful parking. No one is going to arrest you if you take a few more moments to double check your spacing.

Additionally, you can ask a pedestrian or friend to observe your car as you parallel park. This gives you another set of eyes and ensures that you won’t bump other cars without holding up traffic.

Need Driving Practice

We all need a refresher here and there. There are a lot of components to being a safe driver, and we don’t use them all of the time.

Visit our site if you need to brush up on the finer points of driving, whether that means parallel parking or feeling confident on the road.