Picture this: You’re on the way to a nice dinner. Things are going great, but you’re desperately searching for a parking spot in a busy area of the city near the restaurant you’re visiting. You see someone’s turn signal start to flash as they pull out of a parking spot on the street right in front of the restaurant. You feel like you’ve just scored. It seems like the ideal set-up until you start to back into the spot. Your palms start to sweat, you freeze up, and realize you’re about to bomb. Sound familiar?
It can feel like one of the most elementary lessons in driver’s ed, but even seasoned commuters often have difficulty with parallel parking. At TRED, we believe that first impressions matter. We want you to be armed with the information you need in order to parallel park like a champ and impress the most critical passengers. That’s why we’ve put together these five parallel parking tips so that you can snag that primo spot and be the ultimate hero in your Tinder date’s eyes.
1. Stay Calm
Make sure that the spot you’ve chosen is several feet longer than your car. Once you’ve identified the perfect place, click your signal on and check your mirrors. You’ll stop your car alongside the vehicle in front of the spot you’d like to park in, so ease up slowly and stay aware of your surroundings.
Keep in mind that traffic might stack up behind you at this point. This is your time to shine, so enjoy your 15 seconds of unearned fame (#blessed). Getting stressed out can lead to hurried decisions and inaccurate turns while you’re desperately trying to avoid a rush-hour riot. Stay confident in your skills and be patient with yourself, especially if you’re in a new-to-you vehicle.
2. Bumper Placement
Pull up next to the vehicle that’s in front of the spot that you’re parallel parking in. You’ll inch forward until your bumper is nicely aligned with the vehicle next to you. It’s important to leave enough space between your cars to ensure that you don’t scrape your ride, but you also need to be close enough to their vehicle to correctly angle your turns. (Two or three feet is about right.) If your placement feels “off”, take the time to reposition. The starting position is everything and it’ll make or break your ability to maneuver into the curb.
3. Back that it up… your good… your good…
Double-check your mirrors to ensure that no cyclists or pedestrians have snuck into the space you’re backing into. Put your vehicle into reverse and slowly begin to back up towards your parking spot. Once you see the neighboring car’s rear bumper, you’re going to turn your wheel all the way to the right. Continue to gently reverse until your car is at a 45-degree angle. Once there, you’ll turn your wheel the opposite direction and continue to slowly back up.
4. Crank the wheel
Continue to check the front and rear of your vehicle. It’s okay to act like a helicopter parent during this portion and double-check every move your car makes. You want to avoid making contact with the bumpers behind and in front of you at all cost. You also don’t want your passenger to have to take a taxi between your car and the sidewalk. So it’s important to make sure that you’re hugging the curb at the perfect distance.
5. Straighten out
Now it’s time to get yourself in line and park your ride in style. Make sure that you inch forward and straighten your vehicle in order to create a parallel line between the curb and your side panel. It’ll score you style points and keep your vehicle safe while you’re away. To reduce your risk of being hit by a passing car or cyclist, make sure your car isn’t angled too far in one direction. Take the time to tighten things up and straighten out your parking job.
If these tips still don’t leave you feeling comfortable with parallel parking, have a stack of $5 bills ready to go and valet your car like a seasoned businessman. Call ahead to make sure there’s a parking lot and/or valet services prior to booking your reservation. It should buy you some time to find a vacant parking lot with some cones and practice before that second date.
If you’re looking for a car that you can confidently parallel park in, check out TRED’s expansive inventory. You’re sure to find one in your price range that feels just right. From long SUVs to compact commuters, you can trust TRED’s 150-point inspection and vehicle history reporting to give you a ride you can trust.
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