General Question

ben's avatar

Where can I find a toy car suitable for teaching someone to park?

Asked by ben (9080points) February 21st, 2011

My girlfriend is from NYC, and she’s taken to driving mastery a little late, and I’d like to teach her to park like a pro.

When we’re in the car, it’s clear she doesn’t have a great spacial understanding of the car, and I think that’s much more valuable than any set of rules. I got the idea that a good toy car, with a steering wheel that controls the front tires, could finally allow me to show her what’s going on from above.

Where can I find such a car? Any other suggestions for teaching car/spacial learning (software, etc)?

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21 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Look for a cheap radio controlled car.

SmashTheState's avatar

I think a realistic driving simulation game would be a lot more effective for teaching spacial relations than a toy.

WasCy's avatar

There are all kinds of good videos that show it very well; here’s one. Surely she just needs to see it a few times, and then try it with cones or cardboard boxes (or in real life on a quiet road is good, too).

BarnacleBill's avatar

Have you tried it with Matchbox cars yet? That works pretty well.

jonsblond's avatar

There’s nothing better than the real thing. This is coming from someone that has taught two teenagers how to drive very recently.

Find a quiet parking lot somewhere and practice. That’s where we started.

BarnacleBill's avatar

My youngest called me the day after she got her license. She parallel parked the car at school, on a one way street, on the driver side, and got it in first try. She was so excited! No driveways in our neighborhood, so we can parallel park in our sleep.

Backing out of a driveway, on the otherhand… let’s just say more people than you can count on one hand have had a mailbox or landscaping replaced by yours truly…

Nullo's avatar

Failing the toy, have her stand outside the car and watch while you parallel park.

mcbealer's avatar

Have her check out and practice moving around the cars that Little Tykes makes. Although they’re designed for small children, you can still learn a lot by steering an empty one around. For adults that’s easy to accomplish by leaning on the rooftop slightly, and exerting force on it this way and that. She should be able to get a better idea about the spacial relationship as well as the connection between steering wheel movement and proper positioning of the tires.

Jeruba's avatar

I think I must have come to it much later than your girlfriend; I was 40 and very nervous. Some clear, patient instruction from my driving teacher and ample practice did the trick.

@WasCy‘s link looks like a great starting place.


cloudvertigo's avatar

What she needs is an empty parking lot and some grapes or some cherries – lay them out before she parks and she’ll have an understanding of where her tires are as well. Added bonus: you can finally use “that’s the pits” as a pun. :-)

Otherwise, you should probably check Radioshack or Brookstone.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m not sure if the toy car is a good idea. She really needs to learn how to park a real car.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The toy cars work really well to explain lining up the driver doors, turn the wheel in the direction you want the back end of the car to go, pull in until you’re at a 45 degree angle, stop, cut the wheel hard to the left, back up, straighten up.

Does the DMV have a practice lot for parallel parking, with baracades to simulate parked cars?

SpatzieLover's avatar

Personally speaking, I learned a lot from driving a golf cart ;)

mcbealer's avatar

For the record, I learned how to drive with a clutch on a John Deere tractor lawnmower.

lillycoyote's avatar

@BarnacleBill I didn’t realize that the toy car was that useful. I was a terrible parallel parker until I went to school at U.T. Austin, big school, over 50,000 students, where the reality was that if I was to have any hope parking anywhere near where my classes were I was going to have to finally, not only master parallel parking, but master getting into the very tightest spots imaginable. That’s what finally worked for me; simply really having to do it.

Booth's avatar

Hi Ben

I am in exactly the same predicament as your girlfriend and coincidently came up with the same solution idea as you to aid with this spacial awareness problem. I have tried online parking games which have helped a bit but I’d like to find a suitable toy car with steering etc to help practice in a ‘safe’ environment. The Little Tykes toys look farily promising but they are rather expensive don’t you think?

Have you come up with a solution for your girlfriend? I’d be really interested in resolving this problem so I’d be grateful for your advice. It’s easy for people to say that you need to practice in an actual car but I think learning in a non-threatening environment would help my confidence and I suspect it is the same for your girlfriend?

With best wishes

ben's avatar


Yeah, I agree it’s expensive. I found many of the videos useful, but I haven’t yet bought a toy car the way I imagined, and I still think that could be a great tool.

I’ll let you know if I go for anything (and please let me know if you find something, too).

And: welcome to Fluther!

WasCy's avatar

Considering that no “toy car” is going to replicate the size, feel and actual mechanics of a real vehicle that a human can drive in traffic, you may as well use a “little red wagon”.

Seriously. The principles would be the same, as far as pulling up in parallel with the forward vehicle (as you would in a car), turning the front wheels (same as on a car) to start the “vehicle” backing into the vacant spot, and then turning the front wheels the opposite direction (again, just like a car, except the wheels don’t turn with a steering wheel) to begin moving the front end of the car into the slot, then finishing up with whatever back-and-forth may be needed to settle the “vehicle” into the spot against the curb.

Little red wagons are available at plenty of retailers, and they can be re-gifted to a thrilled child upon completion of the lessons.

ben's avatar

@WasCy Great idea—that’s just what I was thinking of. Really it’s as long as the front steering is right that should work.

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