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How to Parallel Parking – 11 tips for learning this skill

Parallel Parking – Learn This Skill Or Use A Parking Lot

I’ve been parallel parking, often very quickly in high traffic situations, for a long time. I was reminded lately again that not everyone has that skill. My friends always say, ‘how do you do that?’ when I reverse my car into space on a busy street.

First, I watched some videos to see what’s out there. They are full of instructions about what to line up with what when parallel parking. I decided to watch myself to see what I do.

When I started to observe myself to see what I used to align with whatever, I began to find it harder to park. That’s what happens when something becomes a habit. I no longer watch each step. That being said, here are some things I observed from my parallel parking maneuvers.

When I see a parking spot, I already know whether it’s worth my time to try and get it. By that, I mean I have a good idea of what size space I can get into. When I pull up beside a space, I do a quick visual measurement to make sure I have enough room to get in. I stop when the rear bumpers are parallel.

As I begin to reverse, I turn hard towards the curb when my rear wheel passes the front car’s rear bumper. I turn hard the other way as soon as my front bumper clears the front car. During this time, I also check the vehicle behind me to make sure I measured right or that it hasn’t started moving.

Yes, that has happened to me. Someone started to pull out as I was backing in! I don’t know what they were looking at. I stopped, and they pulled out and left as if nothing unusual had happened.

How not-to park

Promise me you won’t try what the guy in this video does to get into a tight parking space. Even he wouldn’t try it on a regular city street between strangers’ cars. I’ve included it for its humor, not as a ‘how-to’ tip. Prepare to be surprised and enjoy.

Your first parallel parking attempt

If you have not yet attempted to learn parallel parking techniques, here is one method that would be a good starting point.

To do this without undue stress, you’ll need:

a part of a parking lot where you will not be disturbed

by a pair of tall, orange pylons or other elevated markers that you can see from the driver’s seat. These markers should not be damaged if you hit them, nor should they damage your car.

someone with experience that is willing to observe and give you some tips, if needed

Place the pylons in line with each other, with the distance between them equal to the length of your vehicle plus 6 feet.

The first pylon will represent the driver’s side rear corner of the car in front of your parking space. The second pylon will designate the driver’s side front corner of the vehicle behind your parking spot. The objective is to be parked with your car’s driver’s side between and parallel to the two pylons.

Ready?

  1. Pull your vehicle up beside the first pylon on your car’s passenger side and stop when it is parallel to your rear bumper.
  2. Reverse slowly until your right rear tire is beside the pylon
  3. Turn your steering wheel, quickly, all the way to the right while continuing to reverse
  4. When the front bumper of your car lines up with the pylon, again quickly turn your steering wheel to the left.
  5. Continuing reversing until you almost reach the rear pylon. Your car should be just to the right and parallel to the pylons
  6. You may have to move back and forth a few times to get parallel. Remember to turn your wheels appropriately as you ‘wiggle’ in.
  7. Repeat
  8. Move the pylons a foot closer together and do it again
  9. Keep moving the pylons closer by a little closer until you can’t park between them anymore. Now you know your limit.
  10. Repeat until your observer passes you
  11. Repeat more if needed to feel comfortable in this maneuver. Remember that hitting a pylon means you need more practice. You are hitting a car while parking can mean all kinds of problems. Do this with pylons until you’re comfortable.


Soon you’ll be parallel parking without fear while others wonder how you do it and keep looking for a parking lot. Just remember to check the parking signs to make sure your correctly parked vehicle will be there, and without a ticket, when you return.