How to Parallel Park: A Guide to Parallel Parking Like a Pro
If you’re like most drivers… parallel parking is a real pain in the butt.
Doing so is such a tedious activity that many will circle around the block until a parking spot becomes available. To make matters worse, you may be required to parallel park as part of your driving exam for a learner’s or provisional.
Given you take an hour, practicing your parallel parking can help you avoid automatic fails on a driving test if your state has this as a requirement. Plus, knowing it is quite handy if you’re in the city or going to busy locations where parking lots or garages aren’t always available.
The easiest way to learn how to parallel park is by setting up a testing environment:
- Find an empty parking lot or street where you won’t inconvenience anyone
- Set up markers for the length of a typical parking space size
- Use your time to practice until you get a feel for it
Ready? Let’s go!
Parallel Parking Tips, Gifs, and Guide
The easiest way to get an idea of parallel parking is through video and gifs. Therefore, we found a couple of different ones making the rounds online. We suggest giving them a watch, a few times, to get the basic concepts down before you head off to practice how to parallel park.
Reddit user u/APHTHARTO had this great video to share from YouTube’s JimiMoso:
There is also this GIF showing the parallel parking dimensions, rules, and steps:
Finally, Reddit user u/zeeworks created this visual guide to parallel parking from tips they learned from a bus driver:
Pretty neat, huh?
The Step-by-Step of Parallel Parking
If you’re the type that gets more info from reading — then you’ll appreciate this section. Below are the steps you’ll take when parallel parking. If you’re doing this for practice, try to imagine the parking and vehicle dimenions when doing so.
Step 1: Get Into Position
Bring your vehicle alongside the vehicle where you intend to park. Ideally, you should have about 1.5 times the length of your vehicle for the parallel parking dimensions — this way you have room to maneuver in and out.
You also want about 3 feet from the side of the cars. Or, 2 feet from mirror to mirror.
Step 2: Check Your Surroundings
Be aware of your surroundings by checking in front, to your side, and behind you. If you need, turn on your blinker or hazards if you’re feeling anxious with drivers coming up from behind.
Step 3: Turn the Wheel to the Right
Turn the wheel as far as you can to the right. And, use this as another opportunity to check your blind spot before backing up.
Step 4: Reverse Until You See the License Plate
Reverse, slowly, until you can see the license plate through the passenger window. At this time, your front right wheel should be about where their back left wheel is. Or, somewhere along their bumper.
Step 5: Cut to the Left and Back Up
Cut the steering wheel to the left while you see the license plate when aligned. Then, continue slowly backing up. If you did it right, you’ll swing in just before contacting the curb.
Step 6: Pull Forward
Give the person behind your spot room to get out by straightening the wheel and pulling forward. Try to give 2 to 3 feet between the front and rear vehicles if possible.
Tip: Try to leave about 6 to 18 inches from the curb so you don’t damage your tires or cramp the sidewalk space.
Check It Over
Hop out of the vehicle and marvel at your parallel parking job!
Use this time to:
- Note any parking restrictions
- If you’re sticking out into the street
Note where your car is parked while at it if you’ll be out a while. Other than that, you’re now good to go. Congrats!