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A comprehensive guide on how to parallel park your vehicle.

Parallel Parking is the hardest to master because you have to avoid a kerb you can’t really see and may have other vehicles in front and behind your spot. New drivers should only try to do it where the space is plenty long enough. It is wise to park on ‘your’ side of the road otherwise you have to leave the parking space in the face of oncoming traffic, with a restricted view of it. In the UK it is illegal to park on the side of the road facing the direction of traffic at night and in some countries it is always illegal: it is never sensible because of the difficulty getting back out.

Judging the space length is best done by halting alongside it. How much longer than your car’s length you need depends upon your skill and the car’s shape. It is easier to park a square-bodied 4×4 than a smaller saloon because you can see where all four corners of the 4×4 are but the boot of a saloon may be completely invisible to the driver, so you need margin for error.

Parallel parking and reverse inline parking works on the basis that the front of the car is steered making it more maneuverable than the back, so if you get the back in first, you can fiddle the front about to get it in. In both cases it pays to know where the rear wheels are in relation to seats and windows to help with starting turns.

Once you have judged the space’s length, the parallel parking strategy is as follows:

  • Pull forwards alongside the car in front of your space and about a metre out from it.
  • Reverse back. On most cars you start turning the tail in when your rear wheels are about level with the back of the car alongside. If your car is different, find a point on the rear side windows that works as a turn marker. In narrow roads, keep a check on the front of the car as it swings out, to ensure it doesn’t obstruct oncoming traffic or touch obstructions.
  • Aim to turn the tail in at an angle that will bring it to about the right distance from the kerb as the nose of the car clears the car in front.
  • When the nose is clear of the car in front, start turning the steering the other way to bring the nose in. Reverse back as far as possible.
  • Edge forwards, turning the wheel towards the kerb to bring the nose right in. In tight spaces you may have to move back and forth several times to get straight and close in.

Remember to leave the car with the wheels straight, unless you are on a hill, so you know where they are when you return and so they do not get caught by vehicles and two-wheelers passing close by. Make sure the car is secure and check the mirrors before opening the door.