There's no denying the fact that parallel parking is a difficult maneuver. If it makes you break into a cold sweat, whether you're wedging your car into a tight spot or snuggling up to the curb on a perfectly empty street, you should know that there are plenty of tips and tricks to help you parallel park like a pro every time.
As intimidating as parallel parking can be for new drivers, and even seasoned vets, there's no need to let your anxiety impact you to the point that you're parking blocks away from your destination just to avoid parallel parking. Here are a few tips to master this useful maneuver and ensure that you feel comfortable parking in any situation.
Look for the Right Spot
If you're nervous about parallel parking, the worst thing you can do is choose a spot that's too small, which is to say, one that's the size of your vehicle or only slightly larger. Instead of white-knuckling it with the first spot you see, take the time to look for a larger parking space, one that's about the length of your vehicle plus half. If your car is about 15 feet in length, look for a spot that's roughly 22-23 feet, for example. This will leave you plenty of wiggle room to get it right.
Line it Up
Positioning your vehicle properly in preparation for parallel parking is half the battle. You need to put on your blinker and pull up to the car parked in front of the space you want, at a distance of about 2-3 feet, with your rear wheel about even with the back bumper of the other vehicle.
Back it Up
The next step is to put your vehicle in reverse, check to make sure there's no traffic, and start backing up slowly, turning the wheel sharply to the right so that you back into the space at a 45-degree angle. When you're angled toward the curb, start backing in straight.
When your front wheel is even with the back bumper of the parked car, turn the steering wheel to the left as you back up, keeping an eye on how close you are to the car and the curb so you can adjust as needed. As you clear the front car, don't forget to keep an eye on how close you are to the vehicle behind you so you don't bump it. Once you've backed all the way in, pull the car forward so you're in the middle of the space, with your wheels no more than about 12-18 inches from the curb.
Use New Technologies
To be honest, you almost don't have to know how to parallel park anymore, what with driver assist technologies that essentially do the deed for you. It is an important skill to have, however, and technologies like a back-up camera can not only help you to better see the curb and the car behind you, but even align properly using provided guides.
When you know how to parallel park properly and you take the time to practice, you'll find the experience less daunting over time. With the help of assistive technologies, you can fit into even tight spots with ease.