The Right Path to the Parallel Park, Step by Step

If you don’t regularly drive or park in a densely populated urban area, parallel parking can be a concern. Of course, this can be a problem even for the most experienced drivers if they are used to parking in driveways and parking lots – and while many cars are now equipped with automatic parking systems, this is truly a skill worth improving no matter what car you drive. … Luckily, on Quora, Ishan Wong has put together a series of step-by-step guides on how to perfectly parallelize parking every time – and if you follow them literally, you’ll see he’s great.

This is how he explains the steps involved:

Here are the instructions in bold and do-it-like tips:

  1. Move around until you find a spot that seems large enough.
  2. Even drive up to the front car. If your vehicles are of different lengths, align the rear of the vehicle with the rear of the front of the vehicle as best as possible. You don’t have to be precise here.
  3. Stop.
  4. When stopped , turn the wheel all the way to the right. THE WHOLE WAY. When doing this, do not move forward or backward!
  5. Turn around and look at the back of the car.
  6. Start backing up. Your car should start to turn in place. Do not turn the steering wheel from the extreme right position!
  7. Stop reversing when the right front corner of the rear vehicle is exactly in the middle of your rear windshield. If you imagine a line going backward from your vehicle along its center line, you will stop when the right front corner of the rear of your vehicle reaches that line.
  8. I said stop.
  9. When stopped , turn the wheel back to the center position.
  10. Back out slowly until your car pulls out of the front, then stop again.
  11. STOP.
  12. Turn the wheel all the way to the left. All the way! Stay in place while you do this.
  13. Now continue backward. Do not turn the wheel to the extreme left position!
  14. Once your car is parallel, STOP and turn the wheel forward again.

If you follow these steps accurately, your car will magically be positioned in the correct position.

He’s right, and if you go to the full article , he’ll tell you exactly why this works so well. The key is to remember that parallel parking is a repeatable thing. It requires no judgment, no experience, it just requires you to have enough room for your vehicle and repeat the same process over and over with minimal changes. (This is why the computer in these automatic parking systems can do it.) According to Wong:

You don’t have to practice, you just have to follow the heck of instructions. Concurrency is not a “skill”, it is rather a binary thing.

We couldn’t agree more. To learn more about parallel parking, check out this previously posted drawing , this video tutorial for those of us studying visual perception , or this snippet that includes a mathematical formula explaining why this parking method will work every time.

This story was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated to include a new header photo, additional information, and align with the current September 2020 Lifehacker style.


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