Teens and seasoned drivers alike have difficulty with parallel parking. Lining up your vehicle just right may seem like an almost impossible task. On a busy street, parallel parking is even harder due to the line of cars pressuring you to get out of the way.
Parallel parking doesn’t have to be a scary experience. This step-by-step guide and helpful parking tips should help you become a pro at parallel parking in no time.
How to Parallel Park a Vehicle
Parallel parking can be broken down into two phases: moving into the spot and exiting the spot. Make sure you scope out a spot that has enough room to fit your car. If you’re unsure if your car will fit, try finding a large spot rather than attempting to squeeze into a smaller space when you’re inexperienced.
Entering a Parallel Space
The process of entering a parallel parking space can be daunting. A method known as the “S” method is the easiest way to get into a parallel spot. With these step-by-step instructions, you should be able to safely and easily back into a parallel space.
1. Pull up along the side of the car you wish to park behind and turn on your blinker so other drivers know you’re parking.
2. Stop when your car’s back wheels are about even with the back bumper of the other car.
3. Turn your wheels all the way to the right and put your car into reverse.
4. Look back and begin to back up into your designed spot, keeping your steering wheel turned all the way to the right.
5. Stop your car once you’ve reached a 45-degree angle. You can use the front right corner of the car behind you as a guide and stop once it’s in the center of your rear windshield.
6. While stopped, turn your steering wheel back to the center position.
7. Back up slowly until the front of your car is just clear of the front car’s back bumper and stop.
8. Turn your wheel all the way to the left.
9. Begin backing up again until you’re in line with the cars in front and behind you.
10. Once in line with the other cars, stop your car. Turn the steering wheel back to the center position on flat roads.
Exiting a Parallel Parking Spot
Exiting a parallel spot is usually easier than parking. The exception is if you’re in a smaller spot than when you parked your car. This usually happens when a car in front or behind you leaves and another driver parks closer than the previous car. Remember to go at a slow and safe speed when exiting a spot. It's easy to miscalculate the space between parked cars that could wind up hitting the one in front of you. Be prepared on handling parking lot accidents, should they occur.
1. Back up straight.
2. Stop when you’re close to the car behind you and stop.
3. Turn your steering wheel all the way to the left.
4. Put your car in drive and turn on your signal.
5. If traffic is clear, begin moving forward. Make sure your front right bumper has room to clear the back bumper of the car ahead of you.
6. Once your front end has cleared and you’re halfway out of the spot, turn your wheel back to the center position.
Tips for Parallel Parking
Learning to parallel park, or brushing up on your skills, takes time. No one is perfect the first time they tried to parallel park. You can practice your parking skills in an open space using boxes, parking cones, at the DMV, or anything else that’s visible to you while in the driver’s seat. Make your markers into different sizes of parking spaces so you’re ready if you need to fit into a smaller space.
Set Yourself Up for Success
When you’re looking for a parking spot, try to find one that is at least one and a half the length of your car. This helps give you plenty of room to maneuver your vehicle into and out of the spot. Once you’ve found a spot, tap your brakes a couple of times and put on your turn signal. Giving several forms of signals to other drivers around you helps alert them to your intentions. Some drivers may think you’re turning at the next road if you only use your turn signal.
Keep your foot on the brake or hovering near it as you park. There’s often no need to use the gas pedal when learning to parallel park. Allow your car to idle into the spot instead.
If you get into an uncomfortable angle when parking, pull out and start again. It’s easier to start over than to try to fix your parking angle halfway through. It becomes easier to get the angle right the more experience you have parallel parking.
Leave Plenty of Space
After you park, make sure there’s enough space in front and behind your car and you’re center between the other cars. Remember that the cars currently around you may leave, and the new cars that take their spaces may not give you enough room. The more room you have in a space when you park, the more likely you’ll have space to leave as well. You’ll also want to make sure you give the car in front of you enough room to back up and leave their spot.