General Question

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Any tips on parallel parking?

Asked by Dr_Dredd (10540points) November 23rd, 2010

OK, I admit it. I suck at parallel parking. I managed to do a passable job on my road test 20 years ago, but I was never comfortable with it. And I only seem to be getting worse with time. I just can’t seem to position my car correctly no matter how much I try.

Any suggestions on how to improve, given that it’s been a looong time since my driver’s license test?

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16 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Practice in a parking lot with some bushes. Slow and steady, take your time.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I know that we’re not supposed to say “google it” as a response to a serious Q in the General section. So I’m not going to say that.

What I will say is that if you should happen to google that Q, simply “parallel parking”, you’ll find all kinds of great references, from videos to diagrams and well-thought-out text, like this one, for example. Way better than any advice I can give you.

About the best I could offer is “practice in a vacant parking lot” (for an office building on a weekend is good) with some boxes to represent parked cars.

Kraigmo's avatar

1.Drive right up next to the car that is in front of the space you wanna be in. Drive right up next to that car so your car’s front end is where the the other car’s front is, and that your back end is where the back end of the other one is. If the other car is longer, then just match your rear bumper to where his rear bumper is.

2. Slowly go in reverse straight back till your car’s middle section is next to the parked car’s rear bumper. At that point, began the hard steer it takes to move into the spot. As soon as your bumper is near the curb, at that point begin straightening out the steering wheel in the opposite direction. From this point, it will be intuitive for you to just fit right in, or adjust by going back ‘n forth a little bit.

3. If the street is on a hill, remember to turn the front tire to the right against the curb if downhill, and to the left (then reverse a bit so the back of the front right tire hits the curb) if going uphill. If on flat land, Step 3 is unnecessary.

Brian1946's avatar

One thing that helps me is having my right outside mirror aimed down and in, so that I get a good view of the curb.

mrentropy's avatar

I’ve been driving for about 25 years, but I’m basically in the same situation, @Dr_Dredd. I’ll probably get modded for not taking this seriously, but the only time I was ever comfortable parallel parking was when I owned a Honda CRX; it was so small I could just pull into a parking space without worrying about all the maneuvering.

Unlike you, the person giving me the driving test forgot to have me do the parallel parking bit and just passed me on it.

nebule's avatar

I am not so hot at it either at times. However, I do find that even though I studied the official methods I can often do it better when I just trust myself and instincts and feel my way into the space. Strangely enough as well…when I’m feeling confident and think that I can do it I 99% of the time do get it right and conversely when I’m full of self-doubt and think I’m not going to be able to do it…I invariably end up cocking it up royally… so… it’s worth a go just to feel your way into the space…but only probably if you’ve been driving for a few years! Oh and practice practice practice!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I wouldn’t say this to too many people, but you need to learn to drive from your butt. It’s letting you feel where the car is instinctively, rather than trying to think it through too much.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Pull beside the car and back up straight till your rear view mirror is parallel with the rear bumper then cut the wheel all the way (away from the car you are next to) and back up till you see the middle of the rear cars grill through the other side mirror. Then cut the wheel back the other way till the car levels out. One shot.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Hi Dr D Go easy on me.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’ve tried driving from my butt, and usually end up scraping the curb and/or almost hitting the cars on either side! LOL. I’ve already busted a tire from scraping the curb, too. That’s why I’ve thrown myself on the mercy of this group. :-)

@nebule I’ve been driving for ~22 years and still have trouble with this! Unfortunately, I’ve tried to feel my way into a space, and usually get into trouble.

@nebule Unfortunately, I was not so lucky…

@Brian1946, @Kraigmo, @thekoukoureport, @YARNLADY, @CyanoticWasp I’ll have to give those a try. thanks!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dr_Dredd Probably the biggest thing is to stay far enough from the car your parking behind. At the minimum two feet away. Pull up to it so your back bumpers are aligned and crank the wheel hard, then straigthen it up when your half to three quarters of the way in. And yeah feel plays a part for me.

Poser's avatar

This is going to sound like a joke, but I am almost serious. Practice in an empty lot, with your children in place to act as parked cars. This is better than boxes because, unless they are toddlers or younger, they are tall enough that you can see them over the hood and trunk. Also, because you will be absolutely sure to take it slowly and carefully in order to prevent harm.

Now, of course, I’m not recommending that you put your children in harm’s way. That’s why you must be very careful.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Poser I don’t have kids! (And the dog isn’t too keen on the idea.)

jerv's avatar

I believe that @Kraigmo and @thekoukoureport have it spot on.

However, I should add that it is much easier with a more maneuverable vehicle. Most Fords I’ve driven can barely turn the front wheels enough to make a corner and thus are nearly impossible to parallel park without a lot of back-and-forth whereas my current car can turn like a forklift and thus can go straight into a space barely longer than my car in one shot.

The reason I bring this up is that part of the trick is knowing whether your car will fit in the first place. If the spot is about five feet longer than your car then even a Ford can make it, but when you have less than a foot to work with then even my little Corolla will have issues. (I’ve done it before, but it took a bit of back-and-forth) so you have to know your vehicle and have a fairly good eye for estimating how big a gap you have.

Also, I tend to go slower than hell, often not even using the gas pedal. That way, if I blitz it and cut the wheel too late, I stop as soon as I touch the curb rather than shoving the car into it and damaging my wheel.

Poser's avatar

@Dr_Dredd Hmm. I suppose someone else’s kids could be substituted, but the motivation to be careful wouldn’t necessarily be there…

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Poser Oh yes it would! I’m sure there would be a lawsuit involved…

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