How to Parallel Park Like a Pro

how to parallel park like a pro

If you live in a city, finding a parking spot can be a stressful challenge. It’s one thing to find a place and another to park in the spot available to you. 

If you’ve found the perfect parking spot, but it requires you to parallel park, you may be stressed or filled with frustration. While there are various types of parking, such as angle parking and perpendicular parking, parallel parking can be challenging for many people. 

Here’s what you might want to know about how to parallel park.

What is parallel parking?

Parallel parking is a driving technique where you align your car in line with other parked vehicles.

In order to parallel park, you want to have the right conditions and know the exact steps to be successful. Consider these 10 steps to parallel parking:

Steps to parallel park

  1. Identify a viable spot 
  2. Get in the right position 
  3. Put your turn signal on
  4. Review your mirrors
  5. Begin reversing 
  6. Reverse at a 45-degree angle 
  7. Turn your steering wheel left 
  8. Back into the spot and straighten the wheel 
  9. Adjust your position
  10. Put your car in park

How to parallel park in 10 steps

Step 1: Identify a viable spot

The first step is to find a viable spot for your vehicle. 

We’ve all been there where you think you might be able to make it, but in reality, there’s not enough space. You don’t want to feel like you’re squeezing into the space, as that could cause some extra stress.

To parallel park successfully, it would be best if you had a spot three feet longer than your car’s length, which should be around nine to 12 feet.

Step 2: Get in the right position

When it comes to parallel parking, the most important thing to know is that it’s all about the position and angle. You need to line up your car parallel to the parked vehicle in front of the parking spot you want.

You don’t want to be too close to the next car, but about two feet should suffice.

Step 3: Put your turn signal on

Put your turn signal on before making a move. You want to signal to other drivers that you’re about to turn into the spot to park.

The turn signal also helps notify other drivers that the parking spot will soon be yours.

Step 4: Review your mirrors

Before making a parallel parking maneuver, make sure to check your rearview and side mirrors. You want to see any oncoming traffic, anyone walking by, an animal, or anything else that can get in your way before you start your next move.

Step 5: Begin reversing

Once you are parallel to the car in front of your desired spot and have your turn signal on, check your mirrors. Then, you can begin reversing. 

Take your foot off the brake first and then back up.

Step 6: Reverse at a 45-degree angle

When you’re backing up and the middle of your car is parallel to the parked car’s bumper, you want to start reversing at a 45-degree angle. 

It’s okay to take your time, as getting the correct angle is very important.

Step 7: Turn your steering wheel left

Once you’re in the parking spot at a 45-degree angle, brake your vehicle. Then, start turning your steering wheel left.

Step 8: Back into the spot and straighten the wheel

After turning your steering wheel left, back into the spot. Next, you’ll want to straighten the steering wheel as you get closer to the curb.

Step 9: Adjust your position

After you back into the parking spot, you may need to pull forward and then back to adjust your car’s position. 

Your vehicle should be parallel to the curb with enough room for the cars in front of you and behind you to leave. There should be no more than 18 inches between your car and the curb.

Step 10: Put your car in park

Once your vehicle is parallel to the curb, turn off the engine and put your car in park. 

You did it! You’ve parallel parked your car successfully.

The bottom line

Parallel parking is a valuable skill that can get easier with practice. As you park, it’s important to stay safe and go slowly. You want to pay attention to your surroundings, especially the other parked cars, the curb, and anyone else who might be nearby.

To help stay safe on the road, you can switch to Metromile pay-per-mile auto insurance. Drivers who switched to Metromile saved 47% a year on average, according to a 2018 survey of new customers who saved. 

Metromile also has smart-driving features available in the app for free that can make it less stressful to be a driver or car owner, including street-sweeping alerts in select cities, a car health tool, a car locator to help you find your vehicle if it’s ever lost or stolen, and more.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.