The majority of people in the world know how to drive. Despite that, there is still a high percentage of drivers that have issues with parking a car.
I won’t go into the reasons why that’s the case, but I can certainly help you improve your parking skills. With a little practice and understanding of how cars turn when in reverse, you’ll become a master chauffeur in an instant.
Now, parking spaces aren’t always equal, and each one warrants a different technique. Not that you should worry about that – I’ll cover each one in detail down below!
Quick Safety Tips
I’ve encountered many situations where the driver in front of me abruptly brakes to catch a free parking spot. This can be very dangerous, precisely because vehicles in parking lots drive close to each other.
To avoid these situations, you should always use the turn signal while searching for space. Do that until you find the desired parking spot. That way, you’ll show the driver behind you that you’re looking for a place.
Moreover, if you are driving behind a car on a parking lot, never get too close. That way, you’ll have time to stop if the vehicle in front brakes abruptly. Also, you’ll give the other driver more space to park his/her car in reverse.
Finally, always be aware of the surroundings and continuously check all rearview mirrors. According to the National Safety Council, over 66% of people driving on parking lots are distracted and don’t pay enough attention.
This can lead to severe accidents, like bumping into a kid or cyclist that you couldn’t spot on time. To alleviate this issue, always park your car slowly and check all corners occasionally. Also, if your car has a reversing or surrounding cameras, use them to your advantage.
Angle Parking (Reverse)
Parking in angled spaces in reverse is very straightforward. Most drivers should know the technique, but that’s not a reason not to revisit it. Here are all the steps you need to position your car correctly.
1. Find a Suitable Parking Spot
Make sure that the parking spot is wide enough for your car, and also for opening the doors. Check the surroundings for people, cyclists, pets, or poles.
2. Place your Car for Easy Entry
Position the car at around 3-4 feet from vehicles parked right next to the free spot. Then, make sure that the rear wheel of your car is approximately 2 feet inside the imaginary parking line.
3. Put the Transmission in “Reverse”
Put the gear lever in reverse – it’s marked with “R” on both automatic and manual transmissions.
4. Turn the Steering Wheel While Stationary
Before you start backing up, be sure to turn the steering wheel until it fully locks. Ensure that your vehicle doesn’t move – otherwise, you might position the car wrongly.
5. Start Moving Slowly
Start moving slowly while continuously checking the surroundings. During this step, the front of your car will make a larger circle, so be sure that you don’t hit other vehicles in front.
Ensure that you also keep the steering wheel turned until the vehicle aligns with the parking spot.
6. Straighten the Steering Wheel Once the Car Aligns with the Parking Spot
Once your car is in line with the parking spot, stop. This is important for newbies, as turning the wheel and backing up at the same time can ruin the alignment.
Then, turn the steering wheel to straighten the front tires. After you make sure that the tires are straight, start backing up again.
7. Continue Reversing Until You Fully Enter
Continue to back up slowly until your car fully enters the parking spot. After you finished, ensure that you put your automatic transmission in “P” or your manual transmission in gear.
Also, you might want to engage the parking brake to ensure that the vehicle doesn’t move, specifically on inclines.
Angle Parking (Forward)
Parking while driving forward is much easier than driving backward because it emulates normal driving. However, you should still follow some essential steps to ensure proper alignment. Here is what’s different when compared to angled parking in reverse.
8. Different Positioning
When driving forward, you must ensure that your car is at least half entered into the imaginary parking lines. Remember, the front wheels always make a larger circle, so you must ensure that you don’t enter the spot too early.
Also, don’t get too close to other vehicles. In this case, you might want to keep 5-6 feet of space, instead of 3-4 feet. Otherwise, you might crash into the car that is near you.
Afterward, you can follow the same steps as the angled parking while forwarding. Engage in gear, turn the wheels, and start moving slowly. Then, when your vehicle aligns with the spot, straighten the wheels and continue straight until the end.
Perpendicular Parking (Reverse)
Perpendicular parking is similar in many ways to angled parking. However, it requires more space to straighten the car properly and enter the spot. For that reason, many people find it harder to enter a perpendicular place, especially in tight parking lots.
9. Find a Suitable Parking Spot
As with angled parking, find a parking spot that your vehicle can fit in. Also, make sure that you have enough space to open the doors.
10. Place your Car Further from Other Parked Vehicles
In perpendicular parking, you should always position your car further from the parked vehicles. I recommend keeping around 4-5 feet of space for easy entry.
Then, make sure that the back of your car is aligned with the second line of the space you want to enter. Or, you can position the front mirror with the edge of the second parking spot after your parking place if you have a smaller vehicle.
Here is a video for reference:
11. Put the Transmission in Reverse
Put the gear lever in reverse, marked as “R” both in automatic and manual transmissions.
12. Turn the Steering Wheel Fully
Turn the steering wheel entirely to the right without moving the vehicle. Otherwise, you risk shifting the position of the car.
13. Start Backing Up
Ensure that the surrounding area is free of pedestrians and cyclists. Then, start moving slowly in reverse.
14. Straighten the Steering Wheel Once the Car Aligns with the Parking Spot
Once your vehicle is aligned with the parking spot, stop the car. Then, straighten the front wheels while stationary. Afterward, just back up until you reach the endpoint.
Put the gear lever in “P” on automatic transmissions or in-gear on manual transmissions. Engage the parking brake if needed.
Perpendicular Parking (Forward)
Many people don’t like the hassle of reversing into a perpendicular spot and instead do that while driving forwards.
To park your vehicle this way, you’ll need to make a sharp turn to the right and position your vehicle farther from other cars. Here’s what’s different to perpendicular parking in reverse.
15. Position Your Car Even Further Away from Parked Vehicles
To enter a perpendicular parking spot while driving forward, you’ll need at least 8 feet of space to the right, or even more. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to straighten the vehicle once you enter the parking spot.
Furthermore, make sure that at least half of the length of the car is inside the imaginary lines of your desired parking space, perhaps even more. This also depends on the length of the vehicle.
16. Make Corrections on the Fly
Once you position correctly, turn the steering wheel sharply and start moving slowly. However, in this case, you might want to make little corrections with the steering wheel. Do them while stationary or while driving very slowly, or you risk ruining the entry line.
Finally, we’ve come to the holy grail of parking. I’ve seen that it scares a lot of people, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll know it for life. Just like riding a bicycle!
Also, remember that you can only enter a parallel gap in reverse – no going forwards this time. Got it? Then, here are all the needed steps to ensure proper entry.
17. Find a Spot That’s Long Enough
Always ensure that your vehicle can fit into the parallel space. The gap should be at least 3-4 feet longer than the length of your car.
18. Position Your Vehicle Correctly
For parallel parking, you need to be around 3 feet from the car to the right. Then, the best practice I learned is to align the right mirror with the left mirror of the other vehicle.
Here is a video for reference:
19. Put the Gear Lever in Reverse
Put the gear lever in “R” on both automatic and manual transmissions.
20. Turn the Wheel Completely to the Right
Turn the wheel entirely, but don’t move your car. Otherwise, you risk ruining the perfect entry line.
21. Start Reversing Slowly
Check the surroundings for pedestrians, cyclists, and other cars. Then, start reversing slowly into the free spot.
22. Stop Reversing Once You See the Car in Front Through the Right Window
Stop reversing when the plate of the other car is just in the middle of your right window. You can use the video above for reference.
23. Turn the Steering Wheel in the Opposite Direction
Turn the wheel in the opposite direction, completely. Make sure that your car doesn’t move, or you might spoil the entry.
24. Start Reversing Slowly Until Your Car is Aligned
Now, you can continue to reverse until aligned in the parking space. Then, stop completely and disengage “reverse” on your gear lever.
25. Move Forward if Needed
To open space for other drivers, you might need to go forward a bit. Nonetheless, always leave enough space for exiting the spot.
Put your gear lever in “P” on automatic gearboxes, or in-gear on stick-shifts.
26. Check the Mirror Before Exiting
Most often, parallel parking spots are next to public roads. Because of that, always check the left mirror for cars, bikers, or cyclists.
This article might be exhausting when you read it from the couch. However, do it right before parking, and it will make sense immediately. Re-check the steps several times if needed.
The essential thing is to go slowly. Going fast can increase the chance of mistakes! Also, be calm and don’t mind other impatient drivers, however counterintuitive that might be.
If you have other questions on parking a car, please feel free to comment down below. Also, if this article helped you improve your driving skills, why not share it with your friends and help them too?