Parallel parking is something that every new driver dreads, and even seasoned drivers still have trouble with it sometimes. Some areas have even stopped testing it in driving tests. While this may seem merciful, it leads to people having even more trouble with parallel parking in the city.

So what’s the right way to parallel park? How can you park in a tight row of cars without grazing your bumper?

In this guide, we’re going to give you some practical and actionable parallel parking tips that can help you nail parallel parking in even the harshest of conditions. Start putting these tips into play and you’ll soon be a parking master!

Are you ready to learn more? Then read on!

1. Check That the Spot Is Big Enough

When you’re looking for a parking space in congested cities like New York, it’s easy to jump at the very first available spot you see and try everything to park there.

Hold your horses! Before you try and park in a spot, you should make sure that it’s big enough for your car. Trying to park in a spot that’s too tight will lead to frustration at most and dents at worse.

So, how can you tell whether the spot is big enough? The key is practice. Pull up next to a spot and eyeballing it is a good start, but you may still end up finding that it’s too tight, as you’ll need around three feet of clearance, and up to six feet for novice drivers.

We understand that this can be frustrating. If you’re not sure whether a spot is big enough, it probably isn’t, so you should pull away and look for a new parking spot.

2. Give Other Drivers Notice of Your Intent

Someone coming to a dead stop in front of you then starting to reverse is an unnerving experience, so be considerate to other drivers and indicate that you’re about to start parallel parking.

Come to a stop next to the car and turn on your signal in the direction of the parking spot. You should be around two to three feet away from the car on your right. If it’s a tighter spot, you’ll need to be closer to the car, as your reversal into the parking spot will need to be at a tighter angle.

3. Check Your Mirrors and Be Aware of Your Surroundings

The US leads the developed world in road deaths and it’s possible to cause serious injury or worse while reversing into a tight parking spot. To avoid this, you need to be aware of your surroundings.

Check your mirrors and make sure that the road is clear of pedestrians and other cars before you start reversing into the space. Situational awareness while parking is a serious skill.

When you’re reversing, keep watching the road to make sure that it’s clear and reverse slowly so that you can come to a stop fast. When you need to pull forward, keep your eyes on the road in front of you, while also checking that the road to your left is clear and that no pedestrians are stepping off the sidewalk on your right.

4. How to Reverse Into a Space

We’ve talked about reversing into a spot, but how can you do this more efficiently? What are the secrets of reversing into a tight space?

Once you’ve shifted into reverse and checked your surroundings, turn your wheel to the left and start reversing slowly into the space. When you reach the point where the passenger half of the car behind you is in line with the center of your car, straighten the wheel out.

Then, reverse further into the space until your front bumper is clear of the rear bumper of the car in front of you. Now it’s time to straighten out, so turn your steering wheel to the right and try to straighten out so that the car in front of you’s license plate is in line with your front license plate. If you’re parking in Atlanta and don’t have a front license plate to align it with, try to center the license plate in your field of view.

Straighten out your steering wheel again and try to reverse into a spot with more clearance. You should leave yourself at least two feet of clearance at either end of your car.

If you curb your tire while reversing, don’t panic. This is usually harmless, so just shift back into drive and pull forward a little.

5. Straightening Out

Now that you’re in the parking space and aligned with the cars to the front and rear of you, you need to make sure that you aren’t sticking out into the road. The key to this is getting as close to the curb as you can.

To do this, reverse straight back and then shift into drive, turning hard towards the curb. Repeat this procedure until you’re straightened out and next to the curb.

If the road has lines indicating the parking space, make sure that you’re within those lines, or you could get a ticket. If it doesn’t have lines, just make sure that you aren’t sticking out into the road any more than the other cars on the road.

6. Take Your Time

When you’re parallel parking, take as much time as you need. If you give other road users enough space to get past, no one should honk their horn at you or make you feel pressured. Parallel parking is stressful, and most people are fairly sympathetic to people who are having problems parking.

If you try to rush your parking maneuver, you’re more likely to end up dinging the car to the front or rear of you, which will cause problems, for obvious reasons. You’re also more likely to mount the curb, which could endanger pedestrians.

If you’re having a lot of trouble getting into a space and you’re feeling stressed out, it’s okay to take a break and take a deep breath for a moment or two, so long as you aren’t blocking the road.

7. What to Do If You Hit a Car

If the worst happens and you hit the car to the front or rear of you, you should park up in a safe position, and then inspect both cars for damage.

If the other driver isn’t present, you need to leave a note explaining what happened. Do this even if there isn’t any visible damage. You should also take pictures of both cars to show any damage (or the lack of it): doing this prevents the other driver from making a fraudulent claim against you.

You should also contact law enforcement to notify them of what happened, as per your legal obligations.

If the other driver is present, then you should exchange contact and insurance information with them. You should still take pictures of both cars to prevent insurance fraud. You may wish to contact the police at this time too, so they can keep the peace.

Stay calm while discussing the accident and wait for the police to arrive. If the other driver attempts to leave, let them go and inform the police about what happened.

8. Don’t Forget to Pay for Your Parking

Now that you’re parked up and feeling like you’ve conquered the world, don’t just stroll off into the sunset. In many areas, you still need to pay for on-street parking, so look around for a parking meter. Sometimes these aren’t easily visible, but the parking attendant won’t care, so make sure you find your meter and pay for your parking.

If you’re lucky enough to find a spot with free on-street parking, then you can skip this step.

Put These Parallel Parking Tips to Good Use!

No one enjoys parallel parking, but with these parallel parking tips, you should find it a lot easier and less stressful. However, there are easier ways to park. One of the easiest ways is to use ParkMobile is for finding a parking spot that you can reserve for later!

Our app makes it easy to find a spot and guides you to the parking lot or parking garage. Once you’re there, just follow the instructions in the app or the confirmation email that was sent when you made the reservation online.

We’re available in several cities across the US, including Atlanta, Washington D.C., and New York City.

Our app is available on iOS and Android, and you can also visit us online,