How to parallel park between two cars on your first try

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Position your car

Slowly steer your car so that it is parallel to the car parked in front of the empty space. Your car should be 2-3 feet from the side of the parked car.

Video

Straighten the steering wheel

As your car moves into the empty parallel parking spot, slowly straighten your steering wheel as you continue to move backwards towards the parked car at the other end of the parking space. As you are maneuvering your vehicle, continuously check all mirrors and through your windows and front windshield to ensure you are not in danger of hitting either of the vehicles bordering the parallel parking space.

Backing Up, Part 1

There are two parts to reversing into the spot. Check your rearview mirrors to be sure there are no cars immediately behind you and that any following traffic has left you enough room to back into the spot. Look over your right shoulder into the spot and begin reversing very slowly. When your vehicle is about a third of the way past the one next to it, begin turning the wheel smoothly all the way to the right. You want to enter the parking spot at about a 45-degree angle. Once your vehicle is angling in, straighten the steering wheel for just a second or two as you continue to creep backward.

When do I need to parallel park?

Parallel parking allows you to park in a smaller space than would be possible if you were driving forward into it.

Driving forward into a roadside space is usually only doable if two spaces in a row are unoccupied.

By reversing in, a driver can take advantage of a single empty space, not too much longer than the car.

Most residential roads accommodate roadside parking as standard, and in town and city centres where space is a premium, parallel parking might be the only option to get a space.

Step 2:

Start reversing your car and keep going back with the wheel fully turned to the right side, until you see the rear car’s license plate in your side view mirror, which means you are 45 degree angle now.

Look, Ma, No Hands: Self-Parking Cars Take the Wheel

See what auto makers have been working on for years with self-parking cars and how you may never have to parallel park again.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here's a summary of what's required for the parallel parking exercise.

For those who prefer visual instructions, there are some tutorial videos further down the page—some with an audio commentary for those who like to listen to what they need to do!

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How to Reverse Parallel Park in 6 Easy Steps

We’ll now explain how parallel parking can be done in six easy steps.

  1. Find a large enough parking spot
  2. Place your car parallel to the car in front
  3. Turn the wheel fully to the right and begin to reverse
  4. Turn your wheels straight and reverse further
  5. Turn your wheels fully to the left and reverse into position
  6. Straighten your wheels and creep forward into position

Step #1 – Find a large enough parking spot

The first thing you need to do is find a large enough parking spot. The gap should be at least 1.5 times the length of your car for you to have enough room to safely perform the maneuver. More experienced drivers may parallel park with even less space, while less experienced drivers may need even more to use as a safety margin to get in and out.

Step #2 – Place your car parallel to the car in front

Align your right passenger side mirror with the driver’s side mirror of the car that you intend to park behind. You should be about 2-3 feet from the side of the parked car.

Step #3 – Turn the wheel fully to the right and begin to reverse

The next step is to turn the steering wheel fully to the right and slowly begin backing up. Stop once you can see the car behind you in your left side mirror. You should see the full front of the car (see illustration 3).

Step #4 – Turn your wheels straight and reverse further

Once you can see the full front of the car in your left side mirror, you need to reverse straight to move closer to the curb. Turn the wheels straight and reverse until your right side mirror covers the taillight of the vehicle in front (see illustration 4).

Step #5 – Turn your wheels fully to the left and reverse into position

When your right side mirror covers the taillight of the vehicle in front, you should turn your wheels fully to the left and reverse carefully until you’re in position. You may need to adjust your position and drive forward or reverse until you are in a good spot between the two cars.

Step #6 – Straighten your wheels and creep forward into position

The last step is about straightening up into position. Straighten your wheels and if necessary creep forward to the correct position. If you are parked on a hill or sloping driveway, you want to turn your wheels in a direction that prevents your vehicle from moving into the path of traffic if the brakes fail.

Will I need to parallel park on my driving test?

Potentially, yes. Since changes to the driving test were made in December 2017, the examiner will now ask you to complete one of the following manoeuvres:

  • parallel park at the side of the road
  • park in a bay – either by driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
  • pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for around 2 car lengths, and rejoin traffic

READ MORE: 15 Driving test tips to help you pass first time

Can You Take Your Seatbelt off When Reversing?

Yes, you can take your seatbelt off when carrying out any of the reversing manoeuvres on your driving test, but it's not advisable! It's very easy to forget to put it back on afterwards, which won't impress the examiner at all!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2009 LouiseKirkpatrick

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