Master Parallel Parking in 4 Easy Steps

Do you get nervous when driving around a city block looking for a parking spot, knowing that you’ll have to parallel park your car once you find one? Your palms sweat and you wonder if you’ll be able to pull off the maneuver while other cars impatiently wait behind you. To avoid having performance anxiety next time you have to parallel park your car, here is how to master it in four easy steps.

An Aston Martin sits in front of a prime parallel parking spot. | Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
An Aston Martin sits in front of a prime parallel parking spot. | Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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How to parallel park like a pro

While parallel parking can produce a lot of anxiety for most drivers, it’s really just a matter of doing it right – and not necessarily the first time. Here are the four easy steps to parallel park like a pro:

  • Step 1: Find a parking spot – When looking for a parking spot to stick your car into, it pays to be picky. According to Geico, you shouldn’t park in the first spot that you see, instead, look for one that is roughly 1.5 times the length of your car. When approaching the spot, pull up next to the car that you’re going to park behind while keeping two to three feet away from it. Also, turn on your right (or left) turn signal to alert any other approaching cars of your intention.
  • Step 2: Put the car in reverse – Now that you have found a spot and are ready to park your car, put the car in reverse and back up slowly until the middle of your car lines up with the other car’s rear bumper. If another car approaches, keep still, as your turn signal should give them the hint that you’re parking in that spot.
  • Step 3: Turn the steering wheel – After you have started reversing toward the curb, it’s time to turn the steering wheel to the right sharply. Ideally, you want to enter the space at a 45-degree angle and continue until you can see the car’s headlights behind you in the driver’s-side mirror. When the passenger-side mirror lines up with the middle of the rear bumper of the car in front of you, cut the steering wheel to left and continue reversing.
  • Step 4: Straighten the car out – After reversing into the spot, straighten the car out by moving forward making sure that the cars in front and back of you have enough room to get out their spots.

That’s it! Parallel parking really isn’t that hard once you get used to it. However, it does take some practice, so don’t sweat it if you don’t get it perfect the first time.

Have a friend help you parallel park

Cars parallel parked near some shops. | JOEY MCLEISTER/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

If you’re still nervous about parallel parking, then you can always have a friend help you out while you practice. Have your friend stand outside the car and guide you into the parking space so that you can understand the dimensions of your car and judge the distances better. Also, if your car is equipped with a rearview or 360-degree camera, then be sure to use those to your advantage as well.

Just remember, don’t solely rely on the cameras as you should always check your surroundings yourself before executing the parking maneuver. Otherwise, parallel parking isn’t that hard once you break it down to these four simple steps.

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