How to parallel park, a step-by-step guide
If you’re ready to teach your teen driver how to parallel park (or brush up on your own skills), review this guide. Before you know it, you and your teen will be parallel parking without hesitation.
Step 1: Create a parking space to practice. If you or your teen is new to driving, you may want to begin in a parking lot. Use cones to create a space that’s at least three feet longer than your car on both ends. For example, if your car is 15 feet long, place the cones 21 feet apart. This should provide enough room to practice.
Step 2: Discuss how to find legal parking spots. Usually, parallel parking is necessary in areas where there are parking regulations and garage parking is limited or pricey. Brush up on parking signs so you know where you can park legally. You should also know when parking is free and how to pay for metered spots. After all, you don’t want to face hefty parking tickets in the future.
Step 3: Pull up next to the car that’s in front of the space. This is the part that takes practice. It may take a few tries before you or your teen understand how close to place the car before backing in.
Step 4: Turn on the signal and start backing up. Use the turn signal that points in the direction of the parking spot. This will let other drivers know where you’ll be parking. Use the side and rearview mirrors to make sure no one is behind or next to the car. It also helps to turn around and check for cars, bicyclers and pedestrians. If no one is there, slowly start backing up and continue until the vehicle is about halfway past the front car.
Step 5: Turn the wheel toward the parking spot. Start turning the steering wheel in the direction of the parking spot and continue slowly driving it in reverse. Continue driving backward until the car is at a 45-degree angle to the front car.
Step 6: Turn the wheel in the opposite direction. Next, turn the wheel in the opposite direction and continue reversing. Once you have cleared the car in front of you, start turning in the opposite direction until it is parked. This will also take practice to perfect.
Step 7: Aim for six inches from the curb. Parking too close to the curb can damage the car’s tires. But parking too far away can disrupt traffic and cause an accident. Once you and your teen have parked, get out of the car and look at how close the car is to the curb. If you need to, pull out of the spot and try again.
Remember, parallel parking and learning to properly use all of your mirrors can take time to master. It’s OK to start practicing with cones and move slowly to real-life parking scenarios. When you do head out, look for parking spaces that are large and on roads with limited traffic.