Monday, April 12, 2010

Life Skills: How to Parallel Park a Car

I hate to perpetuate the infuriating stereotype of "bad female drivers", but I'll admit that I've had trouble with parallel parking in the past. However, I am not alone. In the past 2 weeks I have witnessed over a dozen bad/failed attempts at parallel parking. It may not seem like parallel parking is a big deal. I know many people don't have to deal with it regularly. But, since I live in a metropolitan area and don't drive one of these fancy self-parking Lexuses, knowing how to parallel park on the curb is a must. So, there are some tips below the jump on perfecting that tricky S-turn next to a curb. Check out this how-to video, as well. Practice makes perfect!

  1. Find a space that's a few feet bigger than your car.
  2. Use your signal and line up your car parallel to the parked car directly in front of your chosen spot without getting too close.
  3. Put your vehicle in reverse. Make sure all is clear on the driver's side. Look over your other shoulder at the space and then turn the steering wheel hard right, which is the starting position for the S-turn.
  4. Release the brakes and very slowly back into the turn. Keep an eye on the cars around you. Don't run over the curb!
  5. When the back of the car is in the space, turn the steering wheel to the left to complete the S-turn and straighten your car out in the space. Back up some more, but leave ample space between your car and the car behind you.
  6. Put the car into drive and turn the steering wheel to the right again. Slowly move forward and toward the curb while centering your vehicle in the space.
  7. Remember to take it slow. Watch traffic and your position next to other cars carefully. It may take a few frustrating attempts, but eventually you'll develop an internal parallel parking gauge and will be a master. If you have any tips, please share them. Good luck!


  1. Maybe the stereotype you're propagating is that women are comfortable admitting things they want to be better at!

    And speaking of driving and parking, one of the guys* at work posted this article on the wall:
    and I love it.

    *(yes, a male guy, no stereotype reference intended)

  2. Hahaha. Thanks, Karen! That article is pretty cool. I may have to try it--it works for you?

  3. I think the two most important things about parallel parking are the following--

    a) Use your signal and line up your car parallel to the parked car directly in front of your chosen spot without getting too close really means "get as close as you can without hitting the mirror of the other car with your car, the closer the better!"

    and b) Don't be afraid to turn the wheel! In really tight spaces you have to turn the wheel until it stops--and then turn it the other way until it stops--and if you don't, you're just not going to make it.

    Of course, your mileage may vary. But those two tricks have always worked for me!

  4. I have never parallel parked, but now I think I will give it a try in the parking lot across the street. This skill would give me access to some prime spots downtown that I normally avoid.

  5. Thanks for interpreting, Duchess! And you're absolutely right--in DC there's only tight spots, so turn the wheel as far as it will go!

    Let us know how it goes downtown, Mongoose! I never see any cars on the curb in ATL, so I think you sure would great spots with this skill!

  6. A common regulation is no closer to the curb than 6" and no further away than 12". No wonder women find it so difficult to parallel park. They don't have the anatomy to measure that with!


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