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Maybe you have a lot of kids, or maybe you regularly need to haul a bunch of stuff. Either way, a full-size SUV makes a lot of sense and can be hugely helpful in getting your kids and your belongings where they need to go. If you own a large SUV, parking it can be difficult. Oftentimes, spaces and parking garages aren’t quite designed for an SUV the size of two cars. Being able to pull far up enough into the space without having the back end hang out too much is a feat all on its own. If parking your massive SUV stresses you out, try some of these tips.

The 2022 Ford Expedition Timberline in the dirt
2022 Ford Expedition Timberline | Ford

How do you park a large SUV?

When it comes to parking a large SUV, there’s one thing that you should keep in the forefront of your mind: take your time. Even when there are people honking behind you, or someone impatiently waiting for you to move your vehicle, taking a few extra moments to make sure that you have the space you need to maneuver the way you want to is essential. Otherwise, you risk bumping another car (or worse).

Check both sides of your SUV to make sure there’s enough space

When you pull into a parking space, it’s easy to misjudge how close you are to the vehicles on your left and right. Before you put your SUV into park, try to make sure that there’s an even amount of space on both sides. This may mean that you have to back up and adjust your positioning, but that’s okay. It’s better to take the time to do it while you’re parking than it is to come out to a scratched up car.

In addition, it’s important to make sure you’re leaving enough space for the people parked on either side of you to get in and out of their own vehicles. This can be especially difficult in a crowded parking lot with small spaces, but do your best. Your neighbors and your paint job will thank you for it.

To back into a parking space, pull ahead of it

It can be tricky to back into a parking space in a full-size SUV, especially when other cars are waiting for you to move. That said, if you simply must do it, it’s a good idea to start by pulling two to three spaces ahead of the empty parking space. Make sure that your turn signal is on so that other drivers and pedestrians know that you’re going to be turning. Use your backup camera, if you have one, to make sure there’s nothing that you can’t see, but don’t rely on it. There are blind spots with backup cameras. They should be seen as an accessory and not a replacement for looking behind you.

Go slowly, turning your wheel gradually to adjust your wheels as necessary. Continue to look behind you, and check your mirrors and cameras to make sure that nothing moves behind your vehicle. This is especially important when you’re backing up. It’s harder to see things that move underneath your tires, like children and animals. Try to line up your SUV with the space, and don’t worry if you have to pull forward and try again to get it right. You can use the parking lines as a guide. Back up until your bumper is near the wall or car, but obviously not touching it. You may have to get out to check your progress, and that’s okay. The more you back into spaces, the better you’ll get at it.

To parallel park, pull up next to the vehicle in front of the open space


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When you’re parallel parking, it can be helpful to start your parking by pulling up next to the vehicle in front of the parking space you want. Then, with your SUV in reverse, cut your wheel in the direction you want your tires to go. Back up slowly and once you’re halfway aligned with the car in front of you, turn your wheel a little bit more so that the rear of your SUV is heading for the curb. It’s essential to go slowly and adjust your wheel as necessary to line things up correctly. Use your mirrors and cameras to get a sense of where your SUV is positioned, and to make sure you’re not in danger of hitting anyone on the sidewalk or any cars. Move slowly and adjust until you’ve backed up as far as necessary. Then put your SUV into drive and turn your wheel all the way in the direction that you want to park. Move ever so slowly as you inch up and allow your SUV to maneuver into the space. You may have to move forward and backwards several times until you get it right.

Above all, when parking a large SUV, just remember that it really doesn’t matter how long it takes you. Stay calm, do your best, and get through it. The more you park, the better you’ll get. In no time you’ll be whipping your SUV into New York City spots with barely more than a finger flick.