I know a lot of people who don’t know how to parallel park. Some of them won’t even try.
And as I observe my world, I realize that a lot of people I don’t know also don’t know how to parallel park. I have seen remarkable things.
Since I like to throw in a light-hearted post every so often, and since I really believe that I’ve discovered the way to parallel park accurately, first time, every time—and in remarkably tight spaces—I want to share my technique here. It really works.
The first thing you need to do is ignore what your driving instructor told you. He wanted you to look back over your right shoulder out the rear window.
As you well know, that doesn’t work at all. You can’t see what you need to see to be accurate.
Here’s what you need to do.
My instructions assume you’re driving on the right side of the road. This will work in former British colonies as well—I’ve proved it in South Africa, with a standard transmission, on a hill—but you’ll need to reverse left and right references, of course.
- Pull up beside the car parked in the space in front of yours, a foot or two from it. Actually, the distance is not all that critical; if you’re farther away, your angle into the space will be sharper, but that doesn’t prevent a successful and efficient park. The key is that your rear bumper is even with the other vehicle’s.
- VERY IMPORTANT THING: Look carefully around to ensure that the area is clear of things you don’t want to run into, including living persons. That liability situation is the whole reason your driving instructor told you to look over your right shoulder and out the back.
- Turn the steering wheel all the way to the right, so that the rear end of your vehicle will move to the right as you back into the space.
- SECOND VERY IMPORTANT THING: Don’t look over your right shoulder. Look instead in the outside mirror on the driver’s side (your left, in the good ol’ USA). This is the key to the whole operation. Note that when you’re looking here, you can’t see if someone is standing in the space you’re aiming for. That’s why you need to clear the area visually before you start.
- Put ‘er in reverse and coast slowly back. As the back of your vehicle moves rightward into the space, locate in the mirror the left rear corner of the parking space. Aim the back left corner of your vehicle just inside that corner.
- When the corner of your vehicle is properly aimed to hit that spot, turn the steering wheel back to the left until the front wheels are straight, and proceed slowly straight back into the space.
- When your left rear tire is inside the side line of the space, and your front bumper is clear of the car parked in front of you, turn the steering wheel hard to the left to swivel the front of your vehicle into the spot.
- When your vehicle’s entire left side is inside the lines of the parking space, straighten the steering wheel and stop.
- Amateur level: You may need to move the car slightly backward or forward to get it completely inside the front and back lines of the space.
- Pro level: Turn off the engine. You’re completely inside the space as soon as you straighten the steering wheel.
I’m telling you, this works. First time, every time.
You’re welcome. 🙂