Many new drivers say that parallel parking is the most difficult skill to master. Even some experienced drivers dread parallel parking, paying money to park in a parking lot rather than attempting to squeeze between two cars on the street. Whether you are a learning driver or have been operating a vehicle for years, here are some tips for mastering parallel parking.
Find a space that is several feet longer than the car so the vehicle can be safely maneuvered into the spot without hitting the car in front or back of it. As you approach this spot, check the rearview and driver-side mirrors to ensure that another car is not behind you. Activate the turn signal, slow down, and come to a stop. Line the car up with the vehicle parked directly in front of the space, keeping a distance of two to three feet from the side of this car.
Check the mirror on the driver side and if all is clear, put the car in reverse. Look over your right shoulder to assess the space and turn the steering wheel to the right hard. Release the brakes and back into the turn slowly, checking around the car in the process and staying clear of the rear bumper of the vehicle parked in front of the space.
If the rear tire taps the curb, shift the car into drive and pull forward several feet, then reverse again. Once most of the rear of your car is in the spot, turn the vehicle steering wheel to the left, continuing in reverse as far back as possible without hitting the car behind you. Shift the car into drive, turn your steering wheel to the right, and slowly move forward toward the curb to center the car in the parking space.
If the vehicle is too far from the curb, turn the wheel slightly to the right while reversing and come to a stop. Straighten the wheel, put the car in drive, and go forward so both the front and back of the car are closer to the curb. Be sure to leave ample room in front and back of your car so the other vehicles can safely exit from their spaces.
Do not be upset if the first attempt at parallel parking proves unsuccessful. Simply signal that you are exiting the spot and try again. Many skilled drivers make multiple attempts before getting into a parking space successfully. Practice makes perfect so repeat this skill as many times as necessary to feel comfortable.
*Photo Courtesy of thienzieyung via Creative Commons License