Parallel parking is easy when you know what to look for before you turn

How To Parallel Park:

Step 1.
As you drive past the parallel parking spot you intend to back into, size the spot with your vehicle to make sure it will fit. You want a space about six feet longer than your car.

Be about four feet away from the car in front of the space you are backing into.

Step 2.
Line your steering wheel up with the steering wheel of the car before the space.

Step 3.
Next, look in the back passenger window on the side you will be parking.
You should see the rear of the car you are next to in the back part of the rear passenger window.

The top picture shows where you see the rear of the Echo in the back of the van window.

The window frame blocks the view of the very back of the Echo, but you can still tell where the back of the Echo is.

In this position you will clear the car in front when turning,
while leaving room with the car behind.

As you can see in the bottom picture,
it's easy to see the rear of the van
in the back window of the Echo.

Step 4.
At this point you are ready to
turn the steering wheel all the
way to the right,
letting off the brake a little,
controlling your speed with the brake
(unless you are going slightly uphill)

Remember two of the top most important parking rules:

Move slow and turn fast.

You turn right until you have a 45 degree angle with the car next to you as seen in the pictures below.

Notice with the van above it's a little less of an angle than with the Echo,
this is because of the difference in the size of the vehicle.

Step 5.
Once you are at this 45 degree angle, turn your steering wheel fast about 1 revolution left. (just enough to keep you at that angle)

If you turn all the way left before backing up, you will end up too far from the curb.

Notice in this picture,
(using a Toyota Corolla and another parked vehicle)

The front passenger seat is parallel with the corner of rear of the front vehicle.
This is a fairly good reference point to know you have that 45 degree angle.

Step 6.
with your vehicle at a 45 degree angle, (no more no less)
start backing up slow until the side mirror is parallel
with the rear of the car next to you as seen in the pictures below.

Some instructors say to use the
steering wheel as a reference point instead of the mirror.

This works also, but I find using the side mirror is easier since it is outside near the parked car where you are already looking.

If your side mirror is at the rear of the car beside you,
the front of your vehicle won't hit the parked car as you turn left.

Step 7.
Now look in your side mirror or out the window, to see how close you are to the curb. You may be a bit far away.

If you are, back up until you see
the mirror closer to the license plate of the parked car.

Step 8.
Once you are close enough to the curb,
turn fast all the way left.

This will bring the front of your car to the right, and using these reference points you should easily clear the car in front and have room with the car behind to straighten.

If you believe you are getting too close to the car behind, go forward to get straight.

*Convex blind spot mirrors on your side mirror
are an excellent tool to help you see where you
are in relation to the curb when parallel parking.

Video on Parallel parking and much more

"Get Ready To Pass" will show you in video form how to Parallel park, as well as other driving skills you will need to master to pass your road test.

Get Ready To Pass

Knowing the space with the
vehicle behind when parallel parking

This is often difficult even for the best of parallel parkers.
I am still working on how to know the distance I have with the vehicle I come in front of while parallel parking.

Below I will share a few tips that help me and hopefully will help you have a good idea of distance you have behind.

Do remember every vehicle is different in how long the front and back ends are. Get to know the length of the trunk and back bumper of your vehicle.
This will help you get an idea of space you have behind when parking.

Once in the stall, when looking in your rear view mirror, as long as you can see the headlights of the vehicle behind, you won't hit that vehicle.

*If the vehicle behind you is a large truck, extra high off the ground because of large tires, this tip doesn't apply because you can still see the headlights no matter how close you get.

If you back up just to the point where the headlights disappear,
you still have several feet before you would come in contact with the vehicle.

The top pictures show where you see the headlights and how much space it leaves.

The bottom pictures show the point where the headlights disappear and how much space it leaves.

The top picture is about half a car length, the bottom picture about a fourth of a car length.

The hard part is gauging how far back you can move AFTER the headlights disappear.
You can also use your side mirrors. Though it's harder to tell your distance from your side mirrors.

Do remember the further to the outer edge of the side mirror you see the vehicle the closer you are to it.

With about three feet of space, you will probably see just a sliver of the vehicle in the inner part of the side mirror.
Again, vehicles are different so get to know your own reference points.

For about $50.00 you could install a sensor for the back of your vehicle, aside from a rear view camera, that is going to be the best "space detector" for parallel parking.

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Watch for more tips on parallel parking here in the future.