Parallel parking is the hardest part of most driving tests, especially when a single fallen cone is all it takes to fail the whole thing. Even most adult drivers avoid parallel parking when they can, or at least avoid parking between two cars when they could just drive forward into a spot instead.
But even though parallel parking is hard and involves judging distances when you’re on the wrong side of the car, there are some tricks and tips people use to get in a spot without bumping the curb or the other cars. So, if you’re still practicing or if you find yourself needing a refresher course, remember these straightforward instructions that can put you next to the curb without putting a wheel up on it.
1. Find a Good Spot
The more space you have, the more mistakes you can make without hitting anything. More importantly, the longer your vehicle is, the more space you need no matter what. A short subcompact can fit into plenty of spaces that a full-size truck can’t, so be aware of what you’re driving before you decide you can park.
Image via Flickr by Bossi
2. Line Up Your Rear Wheels
This might be the single hardest part of parallel parking because the driver seat is so far away from the rear right tire. It’s also a big reason why many car companies offer top-down camera angles on their top-level trims. Your goal is to line up your rear axle with the rear bumper of the front car, and to put about a foot between the two vehicles.
3. Turn the Wheel All the Way Right and Reverse
Don’t do this part way or finish turning your steering wheel as you start backing up. Turn your steering wheel to the right until it can’t move any further and only then start inching backward. You should then come to a complete stop when the front right corner of the rear car is at the center of your back window.
4. Straighten Out and Reverse Again
If lining things up is the hardest part, this would be the second-place contender. With your steering wheel and tires straight, back up a few inches at a time. Stop when your front right tire is about even with the left side of the front car.
5. Turn Full Left Until You’re Even
At this point, it’s time to swing the wheel the other way. Do that until you’re parallel again, and with any luck, you’ll be within a foot of the curb, and you won’t have bumped into anything.
But as you do all of this, don’t forget to keep looking around you and keep in mind how long your car is. If you think following this advice to the letter will end in a bump, adjust it. Vehicles and parking spaces come in all different shapes and sizes, so start with these instructions, do what works best for you, and try not to cause any permanent damage in the process.
Image via Flickr by Eugene Kim