Just the thought of parallel parking can strike fear into the hearts of experienced and newbie drivers alike.

Learning perfect parallel parking skills is no small feat, but it shouldn’t be as intimidating as it’s made out to be. Some drivers avoid doing it at all costs, but eventually, there will come a time when you need to pull the perfect parallel park and you’ve got to be ready.

In this post, we’re going to prepare you to park like a pro by giving you the complete guide for parallel parking. Follow these steps to a tee and you’ll find yourself sitting comfortably in a parking spot with a big smile on your face.

To Parallel Park, Remain Calm

Many drivers, when found in a parallel parking situation, start to panic before they even start the process. The threat of hitting another car or being watched by other people can be a bit nerve-wracking. This is why many students fail driving tests and why many experienced drivers simply avoid choosing spots that require parallel parking maneuvers.

Whether it’s the thought of having to make more than one attempt at it or holding up traffic on a busy street, you must believe in your ability and just get started.

As long as you’ve selected a big enough space, the following parallel parking tips will see you through.

Step 1: Stop & Signal

When you find the perfect space with plenty of room for your car, pull up beside the vehicle in front of your space, about 2-3 feet away. Check your mirrors and slow down to make sure drivers behind you know that you are preparing to stop. Activate your right signal to let the other drivers know that you’re about to park.


Step 2: Position Your Car

After you signal and before you start backing up, it’s good to do a quick shoulder check to make sure that no cars or bikes are in your way or coming towards you, since the front of your car could briefly end up poking into oncoming traffic.

Looking at your rearview window, start backing up. When the back of your seat is aligned with the taillights of the car beside you, turn the steering wheel sharply towards the curb and keep backing up slowly. This should put you at a 45-degree angle to the curb.

This is perhaps the most important step to follow. When drivers fail to begin turning at the right time, their vehicle can get out of position in a hurry. A simple 5-step parking maneuver can turn into a 10-step nerve-wracking exercise.


Step 3: Back It Up

Now straighten your wheels and continue to back up until your vehicle is 1-2 feet away from the curb. If you hit the curb, you’ve gone too far. Simply pull forward a bit. This maneuver puts the back of your car in the parking space.


Step 4: Pulling In

Now you have to move the front of your vehicle into position. With your car near the curb, turn the steering wheel sharply toward the street and continue backing slowly. This should swing the front of your vehicle into the parking spot.


Step 5: Straightening Out

The last maneuver is simply to straighten out and center the car in the space. Make sure to leave enough space in front and behind you for the other drivers to pull away.


Start Again, If Necessary

If you follow these instructions closely, all should go according to plan. However, every parallel park can offer unique challenges, mostly relating to how much space you have to work with. When one step goes wrong, just start over from the beginning. Focus on the task at hand and don’t worry about the drivers around you.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more comfortable you get with these steps, the easier they will become to perform.

If you need a refresher on other driving techniques, or just want to save money on your auto insurance, take an online defensive driving course. It’s fast. It’s easy. It will make you a safer driver, and it might even put money back in your pocket.