Introduction: How to Parallel Park

Picture of How to Parallel Park

I am in the UK. We drive on the left and sit on the right.

If you insist on living somewhere foreign, where they do heathen things like painting taxis yellow instead of black, then you'll have to swap left-for-right and right-for-left.

When I say "left hand down", that means "turn the steering wheel anticlockwise". "Right hand down" means "turn the steering wheel clockwise", and "full lock" means "turn the steering wheel as far as you can.

Step 1: Setting Up Your Car.

Your car has mirrors. You need them.

Make sure that both your wing mirrors are adjusted so that you can just see your own car in them. Adjust the rear-view mirror so that your rear window appears central to the image.

Step 2: Find Your Space

Picture of Find Your Space

What do you do when you see a spaceman?

Park in it, man!

The ideal space is on a straight section of street, and is around a third longer than your car. With practice, you will be able to park in slightly shorter spaces without problem.

When you find your space, indicate left, slow down and drive past it. Stop about half a length past the space, with enough space between your car and the parked car for two sets of wing mirrors (about 30cm / a foot). Keep indicating left, and engage reverse gear.

Step 3: Park.

Picture of Park.
Make sure you are indicating left.

Raise your revs slightly and ease off the clutch gently. Slow manouevers are accurate manouevers.

Check your mirrors and the road around you before you start.

As you start to move, turn left-hand down to full lock. The front of the car will start to swing out, and the rear will move only slightly into the space. Continue like this until the car is at and angle of 45 degrees to the curb.

Straighten the wheel, and reverse until the rear of the car is about in the centre of the space.

Right-hand down to full lock. The front of the car will swing into the space. Keep and eye on your front corners. Remember that there are a few inches of bodywork just past the point you can see. If you think you may clip the bumber of the parked car in front of you, straighten up the steering wheel slightly.

As the front of your car clears the corner of the parked car in front, check behind for pedestrians.

Switch your attention to the car behind, but stay aware of the angle between the car and the curb. Your car should become parallel to the curb just before you hit the car behind.

Use your curb-side wing mirror to check the distance between car and curb. If the distance is reasonable (anything up to 15-20cm / 6-8 inches), then simply straighten the wheel and pull forward until you occupy the middle of the space (maximising the probability of having enough space to pull back out later). Engage the handbrake, put the gears in neutral and switch off.

If the gap between car and curb is too large, engage full left lock and inch forwards. After only a few inches, straighten up and check the gap again. If the gap is fine, centre the car in the space as above. Otherwise, repeat again.

Do not feel emabarrassed if you have to shuffle several times. Nobody will watch you park unless you rev the engine loudly and make jerky, tyre-screeching stops.

Well done. You have parked your car.

  • Animated GIF kindly prepared by ggiihh1

Step 4: Hints and Tips

Practice. Parallel parking is a skill, and you will not get it perfect every time, and certainly not the first time.

Practice first on an empty street, just reversing until you are parallel to the curb and the correct distance away.

Try practicing between dummy cars; my father stood wooden pallets on edge to represent the ends of parked cars. When I clipped them, they went down with an almighty bang, but did no damage to my car. If you cannot get pallets, try stacks of boxes with noisy object balanced on top.

Memorise where the curb is. Many car rear screens have manufacturers' stickers on them - does the curb line up with one of them when you are parked properly? If not, add a tiny piece of clear stickytape to your window as a marker (if your driving examiner asks why it's there, tell them it's where you took the for-sale sign off when you bought the car).


ŽAkařaíß (author)2016-01-24


clazman (author)2014-11-16

Wow, there is still parallel parking? jj
So much angle parking where space permits. And yes stall parking, which
many drivers even fail to accomplish!!

Can't forget to terrible experiences.

One, while I was in driver training in high school and the other when taking the scary test.

driver training we were ascending a very steep hill in downtown Tacoma,
WA. when I was directed to park. Oh boy! The car, an Oldsmobile 6 cyl.,
had a standard transmission. There were four people in the car. I got
it in there, but was there a lot of smoke and smell from the poor

Then, during the licensing test I was told to stop the car
and parallel park. We were on a track behind the licensing agency. No
cars or objects even resembling cars. There were only two traffic cones.
Needless to say, I messed that one very badly. Somehow I still passed.

jackrackam (author)2007-06-17

Or you could buy a lexus and just use the Autmated Parking feature. And who's stupid idea was it to sit on the Right and drive on the left? And the taxi's are yellow so you can see them. It's common sense really. Not to mention spelling it "Color" makes a whole lot more sense then "Colour".

rerat (author)jackrackam2007-06-17

Ya know, you Americans just dumbed down a lot of English words to make it less confusing. Our way, is the "proper" way. No other country spells like that.

whatsisface (author)rerat2007-06-18

Actualy, the first edition of websters dictionary was written with misspelled words in order to give America an indepedent language, so they dropped letters in some words that didn't need them. Some alterations were made but they didn't make it into the official language.

8bit (author)whatsisface2010-05-04

Where could I learn more about that? 

Esmagamus (author)rerat2008-06-10

Totally loved it! :D

Ezza (author)rerat2007-06-18

I live in Australia and we use the same spellings as they do in the UK. We also drive on the left (correct) side of the road. Also, the "English" used in America was based off the British English and is a simplified, less correct way of spelling things.

rerat (author)Ezza2007-06-18

Yeah, that's exactly what I said;). I'm in Canada, we also spell words correctly. METRIC 4 lyfe.

ProfessorZ42 (author)rerat2007-09-21

Funny, I'm in America and I've always used the correct "British" spelling. And by parents and grandparents were born here, so it can't possibly be that.

Kiteman (author)jackrackam2007-06-18

We sit on the right so we can reach out of the window with our sword arm...LOL Anyhoo, if you drive on the left and sit on the right, you are nearer the centre of the road and can see further, and see oncoming traffic. The same goes for driving on the right and sitting on the left.

whatsisface (author)Kiteman2007-10-22

That's the best excuse I ever heard xD

jackrackam : " Not to mention spelling it 'Color' makes a whole lot more sense then 'Colour'. "

Yeah, and also, not to mention spelling it "than" makes a whole lot more sense than "then" ;-P

About driving on the left instead of the right, i'm still wondering what trick they use in Eurotunnel ...

Kiteman (author)chooseausername2007-06-18

i'm still wondering what trick they use in Eurotunnel


chooseausername (author)Kiteman2007-06-18

lol Actually, i've just discovered that french trains also drive on the left :-P

howboutitbru (author)jackrackam2007-06-18

i like how we, AMERICKA, spell color but how UKians, yes made up word, spell armour armor is whimpy... good instructable to you UK kid

xerxesx20 (author)2009-09-03

"noisy object balanced on top." Like the missus favourite really ugly tea set. Nicely written 'ible once again Kitey. England rules the world! (did at one point anyways, biggest empire ever known!)

xerxesx20 (author)xerxesx202009-09-03

Forgot to mention: I also like your "new" (new to me anyways) avatar Kiteman.

Lithium Rain (author)2008-06-15

What?? They have black taxis in Great Briton?

Kiteman (author)Lithium Rain2008-06-16

No, we have Black Cabs in Great Britain. If we had them in Great Briton, he would need surgery to have it removed.


Lithium Rain (author)Kiteman2008-06-16

Rsssssp :P All those times I pointed our your typos are coming back to haunt me...

Kiteman have typos? That umpossible!

Kiteman (author)Lithium Rain2008-06-16

> silly grin

ggiihh1 (author)2009-02-01

I turned the parking car into a gif not sure if it'll work but i was bored

killerjackalope (author)2008-06-10

Quite often in a hatchback it'll line up with the middle hump where the wiper comes out of, this is stillf resh for me, was just passing through, funny many instructors teach a different way of doing it, this is my preffered method though, bay parking is another one that many instructors teach the complicated way...

mikesty (author)2007-06-17

Well, at least our clocks turn the same way. Good advice though, just flip it around and it'd work here in America. I never have had to parallel park and won't have to for some time, thus I don't really know how to do it.

Esmagamus (author)mikesty2008-06-10

I have to parallel park almost every time I drive.

CameronSS (author)2007-06-18

Wow! First Instructable I've seen that used graphics instead of photos that was actually good! Nice! And I don't "insist" on living in a foreign country. I'd much rather be in the UK. And half the taxis where I live are white, though they are from Yellow Cab company.

Esmagamus (author)CameronSS2008-06-10

They should have picked a more pratical colour that gets less dirty. Oh... I forgot there's almost no diesel smoke to worry about there.

Kiteman (author)CameronSS2007-06-18

Thankyou. It was that or keep jumping of my car and standing on a wall to take photos.

I live on a narrow street (built before the car was invented, heck, half of it was built before America was invented), so any such tricks would have caused ... comments.

ara (author)2008-01-11

We, in Romania, have learned to park on both sides of the street. What is a so big deal to park? I think is better to drive on right side because most people are righthanded and is easier to use CDplayer and gearshift (and ...) with right hand. Apologise for my english ... :)

Kiteman (author)ara2008-01-12

Your English is fine, Ara (better than certain natives).

The Instructable was needed because parking like this is a required part of some driving tests, yet it is a skill rarely-practised, thanks to the number of car-parks at shopping malls.

Esmagamus (author)Kiteman2008-06-10

Well, not only it is not practised in driving school, driving instructors usually don't want to spend more fuel to teach you properly. In Portugal we also learn how to park in both sides of the street.

nice very detailed

txtsttoo (author)2007-06-20

Well done, this really was very Informative yes and since I live in MALTA ( EUROPE )I kindly ask if you,Kiteman can send me some tips on parking please, I just got my driving lesson's but I guess your tip's will help me a lot -- by the way here in Malta have the same rule's as U.K - Our cousins ..! Thank's again. Jerry.

Kiteman (author)txtsttoo2007-06-20

You've got my tips in the Instructable, Jerry. If you're just learning, though, the best person to talk to is your instructor, who can show you directly.

kitchenwench (author)2007-06-19

Nice instructable!! This will come in handy. :-)

fungus amungus (author)2007-06-17

You use your mirrors to help parallel park? Interesting. Never done that before and I can parallel park with just a foot to spare while on a hill. Not trying to brag, it's just what you have to do when you're living in San Francisco.

Kiteman (author)fungus amungus2007-06-18

Unless your car is a really wierd shape, you need your mirrors to check you have no small children running under your rear wheels, plus bits of other peoples' cars stick out in places you can't see over your shoulder.

fungus amungus (author)Kiteman2007-06-19

It's OK, I brake for screams. I kid, I kid. I really just have a good feel for my car and good visibility out my windows.

jeffreyf (author)fungus amungus2007-06-17

I will sometimes use my mirrors. They're definitely necessary if you're parking a car you're not highly familiar with the dimensions of. I can parallel park my own car without a problem, but put me in someone else's car, and it can be a lot trickier.

jeffreyf (author)jeffreyf2007-06-17

I should add that I also use my mirrors as a line-up point. Ie, I make my side mirrors even to those of the car in front of the space in which I wish to park. Kiteman pulls up a bit further than this, but either way works.

fungus amungus (author)jeffreyf2007-06-17

Yeah, I totally use the mirrors for lining up. I adjust for the size of the car and then do the dance.

Saddam and Osama (author)2007-06-18

Awesome. Nice Instructable.

trebuchet03 (author)2007-06-18

So yeah... last night, I parallel parked my car for the first time in San Francisco.... Totally botched (2' away from the curb)... But parked :P Ya, parallel parking -- not on the Florida driver's test :/

Warcraft Maniac (author)2007-06-17

Cool. This will help me a lot when I get my driver's license! Only a few more years though ... can't wait :)

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