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How to Parallel Park

Steven Mitchell

When you fear having to parallel park, there’s nothing better than overcoming that fear with knowledge. Let’s review and learn how to parallel park.

“Now I want you to parallel park.”

Street lined with parallel parked cars
Street lined with parallel parked cars

If you’ve ever taken a driving test, you may have trembled in fear at these words. Even today, if you don’t usually drive around in an area where there is parallel parking, the thought of it will still fill you with angst.

If you’re a new driver and don’t know what parallel parking is, parallel parking is parking your car parallel to the curb. Easy, right? It is easy until other cars are trying to get by you on the road as you try to park in between two other vehicles. That’s where the stress comes in.

Vacant parallel parking spot
Vacant parallel parking spot

To prevent that stress, you might cut your losses and search for an easier parking spot. Eventually, you won’t have a choice and will have to take the plunge. If you have a newer car, the chances are good that it can park for you automatically. Still, there’s nothing better than perfecting the art of how to parallel park for the rest of us. Let’s review how you can be a master!

How to Parallel Park with Helpful Steps

The saying “practice makes perfect” applies to most anything. It fits, in particular, with the learning how to parallel park. The good thing is that the process of learning how to parallel park is repeatable and you’ll be able to master it quickly.

Let’s suppose you find the perfect place to park. You’ll drive past the chosen parking space and pull up beside the car in front of the space. Then you’ll put the car into reverse and back into the spot. To help you with learning how to parallel park, here are some steps to follow. So, let’s do it!

Driver checking rearview mirror
Driver checking rearview mirror

Check Your Rearview Mirror.

Check the mirrors for traffic before you pull up beside the car in front of the space. Stop when the rear of your car lines up with the back of the other vehicle.

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Turn Your Steering Wheel.

With your foot still on the brake, turn your steering wheel to the right until it stops. Hold it there.

Driver checking surroundings
Driver checking surroundings

Look Around.

Now, you’ll want to look over your right shoulder to the spot and back up.

Slowly Back Up.

As you slowly back up, keep the steering wheel to the right, and your car will begin to turn into the spot.

Vehicle parallel parking
Vehicle parallel parking

Stop When You See the Rear Car.

Stop backing up when the rear car’s right-front corner is in the middle of your rear windshield.

Turn Your Steering Wheel.

After you stop, turn your steering wheel to the middle and continue backing up slowly until your car clears the car in front of you. Stop again.

Driver turning steering wheel
Driver turning steering wheel

Turn the Wheel Again.

Now turn the wheel all the way to the left and continue to back up until you’re in the spot.

And You’re Done.

You did it! Your car should be parallel to the curb.

Traffic in side view mirror
Traffic in side view mirror

Check Your Mirrors.

Before you open the door, check the mirrors for cars, cyclists, and joggers. You don’t want to open your driver door on them and ruin your excellent parking job.

Admire Your Skills.

As you walk away, look back and enjoy that you’ve learned how to parallel park.

After you do this a few times, you won’t need to stop during the process and smoothly do it from start to finish. If you continue to repeat and practice this 10 step process, you’ll be on the way to being a no-stress parallel parking pro. It’s not going to be as easy as an automated car, but you’ll have the feeling of a job well done.

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Steven Mitchell
Steven Mitchell

Steve's first car had pedals, and he's been filled with passion for four wheels ever since. He lives and breathes the car life as a technologist, futurist, and writer while keeping up with the whys, hows, and plans of the automotive industry. His automotive journey began with a fully restored Triumph TR3b that he sadly never appreciated until decades later. Ownerships of X-1/9's, BMW's, an SVT and a Dodge Ram Hemi have given way to the house of Audi Sport. You'll also find him as an endurance athlete on the bike in SoCal, but you'll know he's thinking about cars.

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