June 1, 2023


5 Easy Steps to Parallel Park

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Parallel Park Like a Pro

For beginner drivers, few parking moves are as nerve-wracking as parallel parking. Even thinking about parking their car between two cars can make them sweat. Especially when there are a lot of people around!

Being good at parallel parking is essential, especially if you live or go to cities a lot. This blog post will show you how to parallel park like a pro. We'll break down the process into steps.

Understanding the Basics

What is Parallel Parking?

Parallel parking is a way to park your car parallel to the curb, between two other parked cars. You use it in tight spaces where you need to maximize available parking.

Why is Parallel Parking Important?

Parallel parking isn't just a rite of passage for new drivers; it's an essential skill. Here's why it matters:

City Driving: Parallel parking is often the only option in busy cities. Being able to do it efficiently is essential for everyday driving.

When taking a driving test, you must prove your ability to parallel park.

Parallel parking helps you fit into smaller spaces to find parking spaces easily.

Why Do People Say Parallel Parking is Hard?

There are several reasons:

At first, parallel parking may seem complex. Yet, with practice and confidence, it becomes easier for many. Knowing how to parallel park well can boost drivers' confidence and ease in busy urban areas.

Unsplash Image by Possessed Photography

Observation: Start by observing the available parking spot. Ensure that it's big enough for your vehicle.

Check that your vehicle has working turn signals and brake lights.

Choosing the Right Spot: Look for a parking spot that is at least one and a half times the length of your car. You'll need some extra space to maneuver.

Step-by-Step Parallel Parking Instructions

Step 1: Find the right spot.

Look for somewhere that is roughly one-and-a-half times the length of your car. This will give you some breathing space. 

Signal: Indicate your intention to park by using your turn signal.

Pull up next to the car in front of the spot, leaving 2-3 feet of space.

Align: Make sure your vehicle's rear bumper aligns with the other car's rear bumper.

Step 2: Put it in reverse

Check Rearview Mirror: Ensure it's safe to proceed.

Before you begin the parallel parking maneuver, it's essential to position yourself. Sit up straight and swivel your shoulders about 90 degrees from the back of your seat. Check for approaching vehicles or pedestrians.

Start slowly backing up your car until the middle aligns with the vehicle's rear bumper in front of the parking spot you want. If a car approaches from behind, stay in this position with your turn signal on and your vehicle in reverse. This way, the approaching driver will understand your intentions.

Step 3: Approach the Curb

If no cars are coming, turn the wheel towards the curb at a 45-degree angle. Keep rotating until you can see the car's headlights behind you in your driver's-side wing mirror.

When the mirror on the right side of your car lines up with the back of the car in front of you, turn the steering wheel in the other direction. Keep moving your car in reverse until it lines up with the cars beside it. Make sure it's parallel to the curb or road edge.

Check Mirrors: Continuously check your side mirrors for proximity to the other cars.

Step 4: Straighten Your Wheels

Ensure your car is always in the center between the two cars next to you. This provides enough space for both cars to exit their spaces. In most states, your vehicle should be 12 to 18 inches from the curb.

If you lightly touch the curb with your right rear wheel, you can do the following: shift into drive, turn the steering wheel entirely to the right, and move forward until your vehicle is parallel. Finally, double-check the distance between your car and the curb.

Turn Full Lock to the Left: Turn the steering wheel to the left.

Step 5: Final Adjustments

Continue to Back Up: Slowly back up while making any necessary adjustments.

Keep an Eye on the Curb: Ensure you're just a short distance from the curb.

Stop When Parked: Once your car is parallel and centered within the parking space, stop.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Parallel parking is difficult. People often must correct mistakes like misjudging the distance to the curb, hitting other cars, or not aligning correctly. Practice is critical to avoid these errors.

Parallel Parking FAQ

Q: What if I hit the curb while parallel parking?

A: Hitting the curb isn't uncommon while learning. If it happens, stop, pull forward, and try again.

Q: Can I use backup cameras to help with parallel parking?

A: Backup cameras can be helpful, but don't rely solely on them. Use your mirrors and turn your head to check your blind spots.

Q: How do I know if I'm too far from the curb?

A: Use your mirrors and reference points in your car to judge your distance from the curb.

Q: What is the parallel parking mirror trick?

A: People refer to this as the "S-Curve" method. When viewed from above, your car's path resembles the shape of the letter "S." By focusing on the side mirrors, you can better gauge the position of your vehicle to the car in front and the curb.

In conclusion, mastering parallel parking is an essential skill for every driver. You can become a parallel parking pro with the proper knowledge, practice, and patience. Remember that practice makes perfect, so keep honing your skills, and you'll be parallel parking with confidence in no time!