Here’s How To Parallel Park


How To Parallel Park

If a parking spot passes the eye test and you think you’ll fit, follow these steps to safely and quickly slide into the space. For the purposes of these instructions, we’ll be talking about a space to the right of the car. The car ahead will be Car 1, and the car behind will be Car 2. 

  1. Put on your right turn signal and pull up beside Car 1. Stay about 2 or 3 feet away and line up your rear bumper or side mirror with Car 1’s bumper or side mirror.
  2. Look forward, back, side to side, and all around you before proceeding. Watch out for incoming Mike Moffitts.
  3. Put your car in reverse and back up straight until your vehicle is about halfway past Car 1.
  4. When your car is halfway past Car 1, turn the steering wheel to the right and slowly reverse until your vehicle is at a 45-degree angle to Car 1.
  5. Now, turn the steering wheel to the left and continue to reverse slowly while positioning the car into the space. If your wheels are turned too hard or too early, you might hit Car 1 or end up with your car too far from the curb. If you turn the wheel too softly, you might hit Car 2 and end up with your car out of position.
  6. Correct the wheel to straighten your vehicle out until you’re close to Car 2 but not touching. You’ll want to be within six inches of the curb.
  7. Use your mirrors, both rearview and side, to check your spacing and straighten the vehicle out until you’re happy with the positioning.
  8. Put the vehicle in park, then get out of the vehicle to double-check your positioning.
  9. If you’re happy, turn the car off, fold your side mirrors in, and you’re done!

How To Make Parallel Parking Easier

There are numerous ways to make parallel parking less of an issue. Some are small and cost nothing, others are extreme and expensive.

Use a Spotter

If you have a friend with you, there’s no shame in using that person to assist. You’ll still have to figure out the angles, but the spotter can tell you how far you are from both the curb and the vehicles you’re trying to avoid hitting. Don’t let ego interfere; take the help. 

Install a Backup Camera

A backup camera will make it easier to judge how close your car is to another car when reversing. For full information, read our guide, How To Install a Backup Camera.

BMWMany new cars come with partially automated parking.

Buy a Newer Car with Sensors and Cameras or Partial Automation

Certain new cars can parallel park themselves without any input from the driver. Most newer cars are often equipped with sensors and cameras that will alert you when you’re getting too close to another object with your vehicle. Parallel parking will always be easier and quicker with sensors and cameras.

Drive Smaller Vehicles That Sit Low

The growing popularity of crossovers, SUVs, and trucks means that parking has become more difficult for everyone. Not only do they take up more space, but they also have much worse visibility and sightlines. In some vehicles, you can’t see a single child if 10 of them sat right in front of it. So, how is somebody sitting inside supposed to know how close a car is front or back? Smaller cars are easier to park, and lower cars make it easier to see your obstacles.

Drive Vehicles With Clear Visibility

Visibility is not entirely dependent on ride height. It also includes factors such as roof design and how the windows are shaped. Cars such as the Mazda 3 hatchback and the old Nissan Altima coupe have abysmal visibility, as does the current Chevrolet Camaro, which can make them dangerous for certain drivers. With a big wide-open window design, it’s easier to judge parking. Keep that in mind when purchasing your next vehicle.

How To Protect Your Vehicle From Careless Parallel Parkers

Bumper damage is almost a certainty if you’re regularly parking your car on a side street, but there are ways to help prevent and avoid damage from rogue parkers. 

Park at the Ends of Streets or Near a Hydrant

The easiest way to protect your car from parallel parking is to avoid it completely, but if that’s not possible, you can at least delete one car from the situation. By parking at the end of a street or near a fire hydrant, you reduce the danger caused by other automobiles because you can only be hit on one end of the car.

Use Bumper Protectors

You’ll ruin any attractive features of your automobile by using bumper protectors, and they’re not guaranteed to protect your vehicle from all scratches and dents, but a bumper hitting rubber is still better than a bumper hitting a bumper. You can buy the full mat, rubber strips, or extended license-plate frames.

Put Velvet Ropes Around Your Car Like Marshawn Lynch

Cones work, too. This was a hilarious moment in history, but please, don’t do this. Everybody will hate you, you might get a ticket, or somebody might damage your vehicle. 

Repairing Parallel Parking Dings and Scratch Marks

If you frequently park on the street, it’s a great idea to get a bottle of color-matched touch-up paint for quick and easy cover-ups. If you don’t want to pay for that, you could go the cheap hack route and use a Sharpie, as detailed by our sister site, Car Bibles.


Sometimes it’s easier to learn by watching someone else do it rather than reading about it. Check out these video instructions to get a better grasp of parallel parking.

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