If you live in a populated city, your parking options are often slim pickings. Parking garages are expensive and often far away from your destination, while many stores and restaurants have limited parking spaces for customers. That’s why parallel parking knowledge is a must, but is often the most dreaded action of any driver. Everyone is bound to parallel park sometime in their life, and not everyone is lucky enough to have their vehicle equipped with parking assist systems that automatically parallel park itself. With this strategy below, you should be a parallel parking pro in no time at all!
Choosing the Right Spot
When looking for a parallel parking spot, try to find a space that has enough room for you to steer into without hitting another car. Spaces that are few feet longer than your car would be best. Once you have perfected the parallel parking, you can explore tighter spaces and maneuver into those.
Preparing to Park
When you have chosen the parking space, put your turn signal on toward the space and slow down. Check your rear-view mirror and make sure no one is close behind you or approaching quickly. If there is, brake gently so they can see your brake lights and slow down. Pull up next to the car/space in front of your parking space, fairly close beside it and with the middle of your vehicle even with the rear of the car/space.
Do not try to attempt parallel parking by pulling into the spot; you must back in since most vehicles steer with the front wheels only. Direct the vehicle’s back end into the spot and straighten it out with the front end free, then guide or even wiggle the front in.
Steps to Parallel Park
Now that you have y our vehicle in position, it’s time to execute the parking.
- Shift into reverse. Check the driver-side mirror to ensure the street behind you is clear before you begin to back up. After you glance over your shoulder toward the space, turn the steering wheel hard right, creating a 45 degree angle. While reversing, think of pushing (the top of) the wheel the way you want the car to go.
- Slowly release the brakes and begin turning fairly sharp into the space. While backing into the space, keep checking the front of and around your car. Continue reversing until the rear tire closest to the curb is nearly as close as the final distance desired from it (no more than one foot) and the rear end of the car is still a few feet from the car/space behind.
- Release the brakes and slowly begin turning sharply in to the space. While backing up, often check the surroundings of your car. Continue until the rear wheel facing the curb is nearly as close as the final distance desired from it and the back of the car is still a few feet from the car behind. If you rear tire hits the curb, you have gone too far and need to go forward a few feet to try again.
- When you’re close to the bumped of the vehicle behind you, shift the car back into Drive, turn the steering wheel to the right and move forward slowly toward the curb while centering your vehicle in the parking spot. Keep moving forward and until you have adjusted your car within the space.
After these steps, if all went according to plan, you should be tucked in nicely and parallel parked. If you aren’t, don’t stress. Just pull out alongside the car in front of you, signal toward the curb again and start over.
Parallel parking doesn’t have to stressful and annoying. With a little practice before you try it on a busy street during peak hours (we suggest practicing between buckets or cones if you have them), you’ll be able to park anywhere you desire!