How To Parallel Park

For new and experienced drivers alike, learning (or re-learning) how to parallel park is one of the most intimidating aspects of driving. Because of its notoriously tough nature, parallel parking has developed something of a stigma among drivers – one that gets played up constantly in pop culture. Regardless, parallel parking is in fact part of the repertoire of any good driver. So strap on your seatbelt and settle in, because you’re about to discover how to parallel park with perfect ease.

What You Need:

  • A vehicle
  • An open parallel parking space
  1. Start by seeking out a spot. As you roll by looking for spaces, pull next to potential parallel parking spots to see if they’ll actually fit your car. A good rule of thumb is that the space should be at least two or more feet longer than your car on each end. If the space is any smaller, you’re probably going to find it tough to squeeze your car in without hitting the curb or someone else’s vehicle.
  2. When you find a spot with potential, pull up next to the car at the front end. You should first turn on your right turn signal to indicate to drivers behind you that you’re about to parallel park. Then, pull up next to the front car as closely as possible. When your rear bumpers line up, you’re ready to switch into reverse.
  3. For people just learning how to parallel park, this step is toughest. Now that the rear bumpers are lined up and the car’s in reverse, turn your wheel all the way to the right. Then, slowly let off the brakes and let your car idle in reverse. If you’ve pulled up closely enough to the front car, your tires shouldn’t hit the curb.
  4. As your passenger door comes parallel with the front car’s rear bumper, straighten out the wheel. When teaching people how to parallel park, driving instructors often term this part of the process completing the “S curve”. As you continue to idle in reverse, you should be simultaneously turning the steering wheel to the left. In this way, your car will turn its way into the space, while becoming parallel with the curb. Continue in reverse as far as you can without tapping the car behind you.
  5. When you’re fully in, shift back into drive. This final step in learning how to parallel park should come with some relief – after all, reaching it means the hard part is over. Now all you have to do is shift into drive and straighten out the car. When finished, it should be roughly parallel to the curb and an equal distance away from both surrounding vehicles. 
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