How to Reverse a Car: A Step By Step Guide

April 14, 2021

The best part of driving is no doubt moving the car forward, but then there is a need to drive in reverse gear at some point during your journey. For instance, you cannot escape reversing when moving out of a parking lot or doing parallel parking.

Since you cannot avoid reversing the car, you must learn how to do it. In truth, you don’t qualify to be a driver if you cannot move the car in reverse gear.

So, how do you reverse a car? Below is a step by step guide to reversing your car:

First, the Precautions:

1. Sit Comfortably

Your sitting position should allow you to turn around and check your right shoulder while still being able to press the brake and stop the car quickly if necessary.

Hence, adjust your seat and sit comfortably, especially if you are to reverse for quite a long distance. Remember to readjust the seat to its former position when you are to move forward.

In short, you need different seat adjustments for forward and backward movements.

2. Adjust the Mirrors

You may want to use your mirrors while reversing. It is not always necessary to adjust the mirrors. Once you have reversed, readjust the mirrors to their former positions.

3. Fasten Your Seat Belt

It would be best if you fastened your seat belt whether driving forward or reversing. A seatbelt can save your life in case of an accident, so it is worth mentioning.

Now, the Actual Reversing:

1. Turn The Gear On Reverse Mode

  • Automatic Car – If you drive an automatic car, pull the shifter down into reverse mode while your foot is on the brake. Keep the foot on the brake, and never turn around until after you have shifted to reverse mode.
  • Floor-Based Automatic Transmission- If the car has its automatic transmission with the gear shift on the floor console, apply the same procedure as above: hold the brake while turning the shifter into reverse gear.
  • Floor-Based Manual Transmission – In this case, maneuver the gear shifter over and down to put it into reverse, which is the opposite of gear five. Your left foot should be working the clutch as the right foot works the brake and gas.

2. Look Around

You should turn around to watch your back before the car moves backward. Ensure the area around the car is clear of other vehicles, sizable objects, or pedestrians.

  • Leftside – Check your outside left through the driver’s window and as far as over your left shoulder if necessary. Extend the lookout over your right shoulder.
  • Rightside – Then it’s time to watch the right side of the car. With your left hand on the steering wheel’s center, place the right hand on the back of the passenger’s seat and then watch over your right shoulder.

You can repeat the lookout process periodically as you reverse, depending on the situation. Do not forget to look ahead of the car, just in case something is coming. But your focus should be on the back. Watch it more often over the passenger’s seat.

Make good use of the side mirrors you adjusted.

3. Steer the Car

  • Once the car is in reverse gear, drive it backward while releasing the brake gradually.
  • Use your left hand to steer the car. Do not for a millisecond forget that the car will go in the opposite direction that the wheel turns. If you steer left, the back of the car turns right, and vice versa.
  • You should not drive too fast when reversing, therefore only press the gas pedal if you must. If you realize you are going too fast, slow down with the brake.

A slow, measured speed would give you the time to scan the area around the car and make necessary adjustments to steering. Slow reversing also lets you correct your wrong turns quickly than if you reverse fast with sharp turns.

4. Stop the Car

Once you get to the proper position, stop the car using the brake. You can put the gear on Park mode if you plan to get out of the car, or on Drive mode if you are to drive forward immediately after reversing.

How to Reverse a Car in a Straight Line

Reversing in a straight line is among the top 5 most challenging driving maneuvers to perform. Here is how to reverse a car in a straight line:

  • Pull closely to the curb and move parallel to it, following the reversing procedure we have discussed.
  • Do not get too close to the curb, lest you brush it. You can also confuse other vehicles behind you into thinking you are parking.
  • Touch the steering wheel less and less as you reverse.
  • Once you get near the curb, line up the car with it, then stop.

How to Reverse a Car to the Left

To reverse the car to the left, follow the reversing procedure while steering in the right direction.

How to Reverse a Car to the Right

To reverse the car to the right, follow the reversing procedure while steering in the left direction.

How to Reverse a Car into a Parking Space

To reverse a car into a parking space:

  • Drive into the front of the empty space.
  • Turn on your blinkers to alert other road users about your intentions to park.
  • Follow the reversing steps we have discussed.
  • Straighten the car’s steering wheel as the car enters the parking.
  • Ensure the front of your car is aligned with other parked vehicles in that row.
  • Don’t move too far back to the point you hit the curb.
  • Stop the car and shift into Park before exiting.

Conclusion

Even some experienced drivers don’t take pleasure in reversing their cars, especially when it involves squeezing the car into a congested space

So take heart if you are a beginner, for you are in good company. Learn all you can about it. Fortunately, it’s something you do only occasionally in the course of a journey.

Learning how to reverse your car in a straight line or when parking is one of the lessons you get to learn if you join the Pierre Paul Driving School based in Brooklyn, New York.