Whether you live in the city or country, parallel parking is a life skill you need to know. Although it may seem like an impossible task, parallel parking is simple when you follow five easy steps.
I was lucky to learn how to parallel park in high school. My driver’s ed instructor was a very patient man with superb driving skills, but he really excelled at parallel parking. Sadly, most driver’s ed classes don’t teach parallel parking anymore, leaving you to learn on your own. Follow these five simple steps and you’ll soon gain confidence to parallel parking like a pro.
Make Sure You’ll Fit
To make sure your vehicle will fit into a vacant parking space, slow down, put on your right turn signal and pull up even with the parking space to check for size. Be sure to check your rearview and driver’s mirrors for other vehicles and wave them around you if needed. The parking space should be several feet longer than your vehicle. If the parking space seems too short, find another space. If your vehicle will fit, you’re ready for the second step.
Steering Wheels Even
Pull up even with the lead vehicle, leaving enough space between the vehicles so you won’t scrape your mirror as you back up. Leaving two or three feet between the two vehicles will allow enough space to protect both vehicles. Line up your steering wheel with the other vehicle’s steering wheel. If your car is shorter than the lead vehicle, slowly back up until your rear bumpers are even.
Turn Your Wheel to the Right and Back Up
Check for oncoming traffic before you begin to back up. Turn your steering wheel all the way to the right and look over your right shoulder as you slowly back up your vehicle. It might seem like you’re going to hit the other vehicle, but you won’t. Take your time as you back up. Slow and steady driving is the key to parallel parking.
Turn Your Wheel to the Left When Even With Bumper
When your steering wheel is even with the front vehicle’s rear bumper, turn your steering wheel all the way to the left and continue to slowly back up. Although it may look like you’re going to bump into the front vehicle’s rear bumper or the rear vehicle’s front bumper, you’ll be fine if you take your time.
Center It Up and You’re Done
If you’ve followed the first four steps, your car should be close to the curb, but not touching it. If you hit the curb on your way back, just pull back to your starting position and begin again. Straighten your wheels and pull slightly forward or backward until you’re centered between the other two vehicles in the parking space. Once your car is centered, you’re done. Check for oncoming traffic before you open your door and step out. Feed the parking meter if there is one and note where you’re parked so you can find your car later.
Practice parallel parking a few times on a quiet city street before you try your new skills in a busy business district. Ask a couple of friends to park their cars on the street, leaving space for your vehicle between them. Before you try to teach someone else how to parallel park, make sure you’re comfortable with the process yourself.
Don’t get discouraged if parallel parking doesn’t come easily at first. Practice makes perfect. As you continue to practice the new skill of parallel parking and gain confidence, it will get easier.