Parallel Park Close to the Curb (Step-by-Step Instruction with Tips)

Parallel parking can be nerve-racking, frustrating, and difficult. But only if you did not learn the steps to park properly. I drove my old Honda Accord to high school and nearly every day had to park on the side of a busy street. Parallel parking daily on a busy street will cause you to learn to parallel park rather quickly, but there is an easier way. Follow the clear directions provided here and you will park perfectly between cars and close to the curb.

Parallel Park the First Time Close to the Curb

Scouring the internet for simple tips to improve parallel parking skills and park closer to the curb all I found were answers that were too complex and intimidating. Here is the secret to parallel parking:

Some say you need lots of practice to get good at parallel parking. I say you need good directions and to follow them the same way each time and you won’t need any practice. You will have it down the first try!

These are the exact directions you need to parallel park close too the curb the first time with a big car or small car, on a busy street or a quiet street every single time. Parallel park exactly this way and you will skip having to practice:

  1. Find a spot that looks big enough.
  2. Pull up even to the front car. If your cars are different lengths, line up the back of your car with the back of the front car as best you can. You don’t have to be exact, but close.
  3. Stop.
  4. While stopped, turn your wheel all the way to the right. ALL THE WAY. Don’t move forward or back while doing this! Keep your foot on the brake!
  5. Turn around and look out the back of your car.
  6. Begin backing up. Your car should start turning into the spot. Don’t turn your wheel away from the all-the-way-right position!
  7. Stop backing up when the right-front corner of the rear car is in the exact middle of your rear windshield. If you imagine a line extending backwards from your car along its centerline, you stop when the right-front corner of the rear car reaches that line.
  8. I said STOP.
  9. While stopped, turn your wheel back to the middle position. Keep your foot on the brake!
  10. Back up slowly until your car just barely clears the front car, then stop again.
  11. STOP.
  12. Turn your wheel all the way to the left. All the way! Stay stopped while you do this. Keep your foot on the brake!
  13. Now keep backing in. Don’t turn your wheel away from the all-the-way-left position!
  14. Once your car is parallel, STOP and then turn your wheel to face forwards again.

These steps came straight from a DMV driving course and have been laid out very clearly and extremely easy to follow.

Parallel Parked Close to the Curb

Parallel park exactly this way and you will skip having to practice

said by me

The First Few Times You Parallel Park

I discovered the benefit of using these directions one day when I thought to myself, “I should be able to parallel park quicker, closer to the curb, and in smaller spaces”. I decided there may be some benefit to the printed directions that we receive from our driving lessons before getting our license.

Parallel parking is not something that anyone should just have to figure out themselves by trial and error. There should be a method to it, and there is! It is the directions that you just read. They are simple directions informing us how to parallel park like a recipe to bake something delicious. Follow the directions and you will be terrific at parallel parking!

Those who say they are good at parallel parking are not more skilled than others and don’t know anything more than we do. They merely have the mental fortitude to precisely follow instructions and learn the proper steps.

For the next time you park, pull up these directions on your phone and follow them as you learn to parallel park like a pro close to the curb every time!

Parallel Parking Tips and Steps with Details

These directions are so perfectly dialed in, tried and tested and explained as simply as possible here. For a bit more explanation to some of the steps in case you have some questions or require further explanation, here is more detail of some of the steps.

Finding a Spot that Looks Big Enough

Your car appears bigger from the inside than it really is. Pull up next to the spot you are considering parking in and by being close to it you will be able to gauge better if the space is large enough for your car.

If you are just learning the limits of your car and getting used to gauging how much room you have in front of and behind you, have a friend stand on the sidewalk and direct you telling you how much room you have. This will help you learn how close you can get to the other cars without bumping into them.

Pull up Even to the Front Car

A pro tip here is to pull up close to the side of the car in front of your parking space.

To park closer to the curb when parallel parking, begin by pulling up closer to along side the car in front of your parking space. By pulling up closer to the car in front of the space you will have to back your car over less distance to the curb. This is the number one mistake I see people make when parallel parking.

If you are too far from the car in front of you then you will have to far of a distance to move your car over to end up at the curb by the time you pull between two cars.

You will also benefit from not being so far out in the street on a busy road the closer you pull up next to the parked car in front of your space.

While stopped, turn your wheel all the way to the right

Even when you get very good at parallel parking, you still will fit in the tightest spaces and park the closest to the curb by being completely stopped while turning the wheel. What changes after you park a few times following these steps is you will be much faster transitioning between steps.

Turn Around and Look Out the Back of Your Car

Always good practice to learn to parallel park without relying on a backup camera. If you have one it may make lining up your car faster but learn without so you can parallel park with any car without the assistance of a backup camera.

Back up Slowly Until Your Car Barely Clears the Front Car

Again, when you are getting to know the feel of your vehicle it can be difficult to gauge how much room you have in front of or behind your car.

Have a friend help back you in to the parking spot to learn to gauge how much room you have around your car. Sitting in the driver’s seat does not give you a great view and by having a friend shout to you the amount of space you have or signal with their hands, you will get used to your car quickly.

Turn your Wheel all the Way to the Left

Turn your wheel to the left as soon as you can as you begin to turn the front of your car into the parking space to fit into tighter spaces. The closer your front bumper is to the car in front of you as you turn in, the tighter of a parking space you can fit in.

Once your car is Parallel, Stop

It is not necessary to straighten your wheels once parallel parked and if the car does not need adjustment, simply leave the wheels turned so you can easily drive out of the parking space later.

When parking on a slope, you must not leave your tires straight but should turn them into the curb. This is a law and is an extra safety measure to keep the car safely parked.

Parallel Parking Big Cars

Parallel Parking big cars is easier with the use of a backup camera. The toughest part of parking big cars is the big cars are harder to see how close you are to the car in front and behind you as you park. Otherwise the parallel parking steps apply just the same and all you need is a bigger parking space.

The best tip I have for parking big cars is to add a backup camera. Here is a link to the best value Bluetooth backup camera I have found. Click here to check one out on Amazon. Cost is about 100$ and totally worth it. They are easy to install and make parallel parking so easy especially in a big car.

What if I am Still Having Trouble Parallel Parking
If you follow these steps I have provided exactly, your car will magically place itself into the correct position.

If you think you’re following these directions correctly but you still can’t parallel park, the problem is that you aren’t following them correctly. You are probably still moving backwards at the same time as you are turning the steering wheel instead of stopping first. Or you think you are too close, or don’t angle the car to enough of an angle.

Parallel Parking Tips if you have Trouble Parking

  • Do not turn the wheel to early or late
  • Take your time (actually stop when the steps tell you to)
  • Don’t lose your nerve – just read the steps and do them!
  • Have a friend watch you and tell you how much room you have
  • Practice judging how much space is enough to park

This last tip can help if you feel like you are bad at judging how big a parking space is.

if you feel like you are bad at judging how big a parking space is, Park parallel to the space you have your eye on. Get out and look at your car and the space. Your car feels much bigger inside than it actually is and if you are unsure if you can fit in a parking space, go for it!

Try parking in the space and then you will know for sure if it is too small or not.

Parallel parking is a precise mechanical formula that works every time which is why modern self-driving cars are able to do it. All you need in order to be an “expert” is to follow the directions exactly.

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