How to Parallel Park




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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.

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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

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.

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).

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    47 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    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".

    14 replies

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    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 ...


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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


    10 years ago on Introduction

    "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!)

    1 reply