Whether you’ve been driving for a long time or are a new driver, parallel parking can be overwhelming. I’m here to let you know it doesn’t have to be. I’m going to ease the pressure of the parallel park for you and let you in on the top 5 mistakes to avoid to help you parallel park better.
Mistake #1: Choosing Small Spaces
Choose a spot that is right for your vehicle. If the space looks too tight, then it probably is. The space needs to be 1 ½ times the size of your car to allow you to maneuver well.
Mistake #2: Incorrect Starting Position
Incorrect starting position could be that you are too close to the car beside you or not far enough ahead to begin the parallel parking maneuver. To start, you want to have approximately 1 metre between your vehicle and the car beside you and your rear bumpers should be aligned. Did you see my post on the 7 steps to parallel parking? These are the tried and true steps to take you from correct starting position to finish from the experts at driving school Young Drivers of Canada.
Mistake #3: Dry Steering
You want to avoid dry steering. This means turning the wheel when you’re not moving. For example, some drivers begin in the right starting position for the parallel park but then lose the perfect parallel park when they decide to crank their wheel while parked and “guesstimate”. Stop it. Not only is dry steering hard on power steering and your tires, more importantly, you can’t accurately tell if you’ve moved your vehicle enough or not. There is more room for error with this bad driving habit. The right approach is to creep your vehicle in reverse and steer while in motion like a parallel parking pro.
Mistake #4: Relying on gimmicks
Ever heard someone say “line up your car’s door handle to the door handle of the car beside you for the best parallel park starting position”. Doesn’t work. Want to know why? What are the chances the car you will be parking behind is the same make and model as yours every time? Gimmick. Looking for a hydro pole to use as a marker when reversing to parallel park? Gimmick. A 45° angle never changes regardless of where you are parallel parking so better to rely on this method. Use the area you have and make that 45° angle.
Mistake #5: Looking in the wrong spot
It may sound like common sense but looking where you want to go is sometimes forgotten during the stress of parallel parking. Look to the rear when backing up into the space and don’t forget to check the front of the car through the process to ensure your vehicle safely clears the back of the car in front. Keep both ends of your vehicle in check.