If two words strike more fear into the hearts of novice drivers than ‘parallel parking’, we’re yet to find them.
In fact, parking of any sort is a skill that takes judgment, spatial awareness, and more than a little bravery. So if you want to keep your bumpers’ gleaming and scruff-free, you’ll want to follow our guide to hit those perfect angles.
Squeezing into a small space at the side of the road can be very tricky – the first job is to establish if there is enough space. A good measure is the length of your car, plus the width.
A parallel park should always be done in reverse, and you should keep your speed slow. We’re going to assume that the parking area is marked with a line.
- Start by pulling alongside the car in front, with both rear bumpers side by side
- Turning towards the kerb, pull back slowly until the car is at a 45° angle and the rear wheel furthest from the kerb is just inside the line
- Remember to use your mirrors and check your blind spot continually
- At this point, turn the wheel full lock in the opposite direction
- The car should roughly pivot around the rear wheel and straighten up into the space
Parallel parking on a hill
If you’re parking on a hill, you’ll want to do everything described above – and then make sure the car is prevented from rolling away.
A failed handbrake can cause absolute havoc, so if your car is facing downhill (or uphill with no curb) angle the front wheels towards the kerb. This means the car will roll away from the highway and moving traffic if your handbrake does indeed fail.
If your car is facing uphill and the road has a kerb, angle wheels away and reverse slowly until the front wheel hits the kerb. This will prevent the car from rolling away at all.
Bay parking - reversing in
Once you’ve found a space, pull up perpendicular and check your mirrors. We’ll label the lines of the space A and B - A being the one closest to you, and B further away. Begin reversing slowly, turn the wheel full-lock towards the space, and continually check your mirror until line A becomes visible in it.
Use line A as your reference point. Still moving slowly, line B should become visible in your other mirror. When the two are parallel, straighten up and keep things steady as you go back.
Bay parking - nose first
Line up perpendicular to the space, with your wing mirror dividing the adjacent parking space (or car parked in it) straight down the middle. Turn full lock towards the space and move forward slowly, bringing the steering wheel slowly back to the straight ahead as the nose begins to swing around.
All set? Now get practicing!