How to Parallel Park: tips for getting it right first time

27 Feb 2018

| 2:59 pm

How to parallel park remains one of the most common concerns amongst novice drivers. Even drivers with years of experience can still be intimidated and in need of tips. Parallel parking can also be challenging if you have done the majority of your driving outside of urban areas. Nerve wracking as it can be, parallel parking can be easy, once you learn the fundamentals.

Take a look below at our comprehensive guide on how to parallel park. These tips should leave you feeling prepared, no matter how tight the parking space.

How to Parallel Park step by step

Step 1: Choose a parking space

Before you begin to consider how to parallel park step by step, you need to pick a suitable parking space. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will assume that your are parking in a space to the left of the car. For effective parallel parking, ideally you should be parking your car in a space approximately three feet longer than your car. If you are still a little nervous about how to parallel park, maybe allow yourself 6 feet.

Next, make sure your chosen space is safe and legal. Look around for any signs indicating parking regulations or restrictions in the area. Now, examine the curb. Take extra care if the curb is particularly high, as you can damage your car if you misjudge the distance.

Also, take note of anything sticking out of either of the vehicles you intend on parking between. If either one of the vehicles have any protrusions, like a trailer hitch for example, make sure you factor that in to ensure you have enough room for your car.

Step 2: Positioning your car to begin parallel parking

Now that you have identified a suitable parking space, you can begin to parallel park.

As you approach your chosen parking space, indicate in the direction of the space and brake gently to alert other road users that you intend to park. Pull up alongside the vehicle in front of the space until both rear bumpers are in line with each other. Ideally, you should leave about 2 feet of distance between the side of your car and the vehicle in front of the space. Keep in mind however, the tighter the parking space, the closer you will need to be.

Step 3: Manouver your car into the parking space

When you are sure the road behind you is clear, and you have checked all mirrors and blind spots, shift the car into reverse.

Lock your wheel to the left and begin slowly backing up. Once the passenger side of the vehicle to your rear is in line with the centre of your car, stop and straighten the steering wheel.

Continue reversing until your front bumper clears the rear bumper of the car ahead. Now stop and turn your steering wheel all the way to the right.

Continue reversing until the license plate of the car ahead appears centred in your windscreen. Now straighten the steering wheel again and continue reversing until you’re happy with your distance between both cars. By using this technique, you will move your car into the space and straighten it simultaneously.

When parallel parking, try to avoid moving the front of your car into the space too hastily. If you do so, you risk colliding with and damaging the car in front of you.

If your rear tyre hits the curb, no need to be alarmed! You have reversed too far but simply shift out of reverse, move forward, and begin the process again.

Top tip:

If you are still getting to grips with how to parallel park, maybe ask a friend to guide you. It is always useful to have somebody outside the vehicle to offer some direction. If you have a passenger in the car, ask them to get out and assist you. Having somebody on the curb using their arms to indicate the distance between your car and those around you can be very useful.

Step 4: Reposition your car within the parking space

Now that you are successfully in the space, you may still have to do some re-positioning to ensure your car is parallel to the curb. If you still have room behind you, continue reversing until you are almost touching the car at your rear. Then, shift out of reverse, lock the steering wheel in the direction of the curb and slowly drive forward, straightening the car as you do. Repeat this process until you are satisfied with your car’s position.

Re-positioning your car can be a little tricky in smaller spaces and you may have trouble getting your car’s front end as close to the curb as you would like. Lastly, ensure you have parked allowing enough space for the car ahead and behind, to move out.

How to Parallel Park Article Image

Thanks for reading our step by step guide on how to parallel park. With a little practice and these parallel parking tips – you’ll be an expert in no time. Stay safe on the road and check back with the Autoglass® blog for more guides, explainers and tips like this one.

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