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How To Parallel Park A Car

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Parallel parking is always a coup de grace for drivers who are taking their test. It is not hard at all to parallel park a car as long as you have caught the skills during the training. For beginners who have just started to learn parallel parking, it is recommended to learn it at a quiet place or places with the least traffic possible. This is to avoid distraction and also to reduce the driver’s stress. Learn how to parallel park here with six easy steps.

Step 1: Approaching a parking lot
Parallel park step 1

When you are approaching a parking lot or a space, check the rear view mirror, side mirror, and blind spots. Make sure there is no vehicles following you too close. Give signal towards the parking lot as you approach it.

Step 2: Measure the space
Parallel park step 2

You will need to make sure the space is adequate for your car as you approach it. Slow down the car beside the parking lot and see if there is an adequate amount of space for your car. A parking lot that has at least four to six feet longer than your car is recommended for beginners. Look for a bigger parking lot if you feel the space is too small or uncomfortable to park the car.
Measure the parking space

Step 3: Line up your car
Parallel park step 3
With the signal light on, parallel your car next to the parked vehicle in front of your desired parking lot. Keep a distance of two feet from the parked vehicle. If the parking lot is tight, you may need to keep a distance of less than two feet. Do not get too close to it otherwise you may hit it when you’re maneuvering your car. The easiest way to parallel your car with the parked vehicle is either align your rear bumper with the vehicle’s rear bumper or align your rear wheel next to the parked vehicle’s rear wheel.
Parallel the car
Click on the image to enlarge it
Parallel parking

Step 4: Reverse
Parallel park
Double check all the mirrors to make sure there is nothing behind you but a space to park the car. Imagine you are going to maneuver your car in an S-shape. Put your car in reverse gear and turn the steering wheel hard towards the curb to execute the first part of the “S”. Reverse it slowly and do not step too hard on the accelerator. Go slow and steady.

Step 5: Last part of S-turn

Turn the steering wheel hard to the other side (opposing the curb) and pull in once:

A: Your front seat is in line with the parked vehicle’s rear bumper.
step 5

or

B: Your left rear corner is in line with the left front corner of the vehicle behind (if you are parallel parking to your right) or your right rear corner is in line with the right front corner of the vehicle behind (if you are parallel parking to your left)
step 5 second choice

or

C: You see the front corner of the parked vehicle behind you from your side mirror.

If your rear tire or rear bumper hit the curb, it means you turn the steering wheel at the wrong timing or you did not turn the steering wheel hard enough. Use your mirrors to check the car position and also check around to make sure it is clear. Continue reversing the car until it is fully parked into the space. Make sure you do not hit the bumper of the car behind you.
bad parallel park
Example of bad parallel park

Step 6: Align the car

Parallel park step 6

Turn the steering wheel to the center once you have parked into the space. If your rear bumper is too close to the front bumper of the car behind, pull your car forward a little bit to the center of the parking lot. Do not cross the parking lot lines. Compare your right front bumper with the right rear bumper of the vehicle in front. If they are parallel, you have successfully parallel parked your car. Sometimes, both of the parked vehicles (front and back) could be in a bad position. Check if your car stays around 6 to 12 inches away from the curb. You may not be able to open your car door if it is too close as the door may hit the curb. You may risk having someone kill your side mirror if you park the car too far from the curb.
Parallel park

Tips for parallel parking:

  • You will need to see the type of the vehicle parked in front of your desired parking space when you line up your car. If it is a vehicle with super long trunk like the classic Chevrolet Impala, it will be better to align your car with the bumper.
  • If there are any vehicles coming from behind when you’re approaching a parking space, give signal to the driver and let them pass if necessary.
  • Never use the front to go in first.
  • When you are approaching a space, check and see if any of the cars at the front and at the back is leaving or any drivers is sitting inside the car. If there is, let them leave first.
  • You can always move your car back into the starting position if things are not according to what you have planned.
  • Use student driver magnets or L (Learning) license plate to notify other drivers while you are learning how to parallel park a car.
  • If your car is parked too far away from the curb once you completed all the steps, it could mean you pull your car too far from the parked vehicle when you parallel your car with it in Step 1.

Key to remember

1. Measure the space
2. Parallel your car with the parked vehicle
3. Turn the steering wheel away from curb when front seat (the rear of the front door) is IN LINE with parked vehicle’s rear bumper.

Click here to see the video of how to parallel park.

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