How to Park like a Pro in Different Situations

Parking a car can be a daunting challenge. This is one of the elements of driving that a lot of new drivers will dread. The good news is that this doesn’t need to be a nightmare.

There are lots of simple techniques that you can use to take the stress out of parking. Though it will still take a few practice runs before you feel comfortable. Keep reading to learn how you handle any parking situation.

How to Park a Manual Car

Most people love to drive manual cars because of the amount of control it gives to the driver, letting you get the best performance. But if you are new to the world of driving, the thought of having to shift gears while trying to focus on getting into the parking space can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, it isn’t as difficult as it appears. Here are some of the steps you should follow:

  1. Slow the car down. When you are trying to park, you want to have a lot of control over the vehicle. You won’t be able to do this if you are racing along the road. You should aim to be going a maximum of three miles per hour as you approach the spot. This means that you should be in first gear. If it is narrow, don’t be afraid to go even slower.
  2. Pull into the space. As you are entering the parking space you will need to make sure that you are positioning the car properly. This is where your use of peripheral vision comes in handy. Over time, you’ll get to know how large the car is. In the meantime, you’ll need to pay close attention to make sure that you can fit.
  3. Bring the car to a stop. Now it’s time to slow the car gently. Tap the brakes. Sometimes, you might need to get out of the car to check that you are in the right position. If you are too far back, ease it forward a few inches.
  4. Turn off the engine.
  5. Put the car in neutral. Unlike an automatic car, you won’t have a parking gear. Instead, you’ll need to put it in neutral.
  6. Put the handbrake up. Finally, you’ll need to put on the handbrake. This will lock your car into place.

However, you won’t always be able to pull into the spot facing forwards. Sometimes, you will need to go in reverse. Here is how you can deal with a situation like this:

  1. Put the car into reverse.
  2. Ease the car backward. It’s doubly important to go slowly when you are driving backward. To ease your car back you’ll need to find the friction point. Ease off the clutch until you feel it start to engage and you start moving slowly.
  3. Look backward. As you are moving backward, you need to see where you are going. You can rely on your mirrors, but they might not be the most reliable judge of distance. Instead, you should turn your head to be facing backward.
  4. Steer the opposite. Another confusing element is how you will be expected to steer the car. You will need to turn the wheel in the opposite direction to the one you want to travel. For example, if you want to go left you will need to turn the wheel to the right.
  5. Slow into the spot. As you get into the spot, hit the brake and slow the car to a stop.
  6. Put it in neutral and apply the handbrake.

How to Park an Automatic Car

Automatic cars will often be easier to drive than a manual. But that doesn’t mean that they will be easy to park. You will still need to make sure that you are paying close attention to what you are doing. Here are some of the steps you will need to follow.

  1. Approach the spot slowly. The slower your car is moving, the more control you will have. You’ll want to gently steer into the parking spot. As you are doing this, make sure that your car is lined up properly.
  2. Tap the brakes in the spot. Once you are in the parking spot, tap the brakes and bring the car to a halt. As you are doing this, you should try to straighten up the wheels. This will make it a lot easier to get out of the space.
  3. Put the car into park and put on the handbrake. You’ll want to put your car in park. This is indicated by the letter P on the gearbox.

Sometimes, you will need to park the car in reverse. In this case, you will need to follow this series of steps:

  1. Put the car into reverse.
  2. Move slowly. Remember that when are driving backward you need to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction to the way you want to travel. If you want to go right, you’ll need to steer to the left.
  3. Slow into the spot.
  4. Put the car into park and put on the handbrake. 

How to Park in a Bay

One of the most common parking scenarios is parking in a bay. This is what you will face in most parking lots. You’ll need to follow the same series of steps regardless of whether you are driving a manual or an automatic. In this case, you will need to follow this procedure:

  1. Find an appropriate space. Make sure that your car will be able to fit inside the bay. Check that the other drivers haven’t parked over the line, intruding into your space.
  2. Go as far to the left as possible. This will get you the widest possible turning circle to get into the bay.
  3. Turn on your indicator. This lets other road users know what you are doing. If you are taking your test and you forget this step, you might be failed.
  4. Line up the right-hand bay marking with your mirror.
  5. Turn the wheel hard to the right. You want to move quickly, so you can get a full lock. This will have the car pulling into the spot.
  6. Straighten up the wheel. Again, you’ll need to move fast.
  7. Move forward slowly. When the top of the car is touching the bay marking, stop and park. You might need to rely on the position of the other cars to tell you whether or not you are in the space.

How to Park Perpendicular

Sometimes, you will need to be able to park the car perpendicularly. This can be a challenge, as you will need to be parking at a 90-degree angle. Thankfully, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You’ll just need to follow this series of steps:

  1. Use your turn signal. This lets other road users know what you are planning on doing.
  2. Slow the car.
  3. Check that your car will be able to fit in the space.
  4. Start turning when your shoulder is next to the taillights of the other car. You won’t need to make a hard turn.
  5. Once the front bumper has passed the inside of the space, you can start straightening up.
  6. Slow the car and park. Often, you will be able to use the other cars to gauge whether you are in the spot or not. The biggest concern is that your back bumper will still be sticking out into the road.

How to Park on a Curb

When you are in the car park, the spaces are marked, so you know if you are in the spot or not. When parking on a road, this isn’t the case. Because of this, many drivers face two problems. They are either too close to the curb or too far away. Here are some simple steps you can use to get it just right:

  1. Understand your blind spots. The first thing that you need to know is where your blind spots are. There are spaces where your view of the curb will be blocked. Check these areas before you start, to make sure that there aren’t any hazards.
  2. Put on your indicators and pull into the space. If you are parking forward, try to steer close to the curb. You don’t want to be close enough to scratch your tires or end up in the gutter. But you don’t want to leave your car sticking out in the middle of the road. In the UK, you will need to be within 50cm of the curb.
  3. Move backward, steering closer to the curb. As you are reversing, try to focus on a landmark, like a tree or a telephone post. You should try to park beside it. This will be a good gauge of distance. Remember that you only want to make small movements.
  4. Put the car in park, or put it into neutral and put on the handbrake.


How to Park with a Broken Handbrake

One of the most dangerous situations that you will face is trying to park when your handbrake is broken. Because of this, there is a chance that the car will roll away. The best way to combat this is by making sure that you are parked on a flat surface.

You can test how likely the car will be to roll by gently easing off the brakes. See if it starts to move. If it does, you might need to find a better spot. For extra security, you might want to put a brick onto the brake. You must get a mechanic to fix the handbrake as soon as possible.

How to Park by a Curb Without Scratching Alloys

One of the biggest problems that you will face when parking is the risk of scraping your rims on a curb. This will happen when you get too close to the side of the road. Over time, this can start to damage your tires, so you will need to replace them more frequently. There are a few solutions to this problem:

  • Installing ultrasonic parking sensors. These will give you an accurate gauge of how far away you are from the curb.
  • Use Curb Feelers. These are metal sticks that stick out from around the tires. You can hear them tapping against the curb when you are at a safe distance.

How to Park on Grass Without Ruining it

Sometimes, you will be left with no choice but to park on the grass. This won’t have any impact on the car. But it can do a lot of damage to the grass. The easiest way to overcome this is by trying to park in a new place each time.

You should also try to aerate the soil. This will be a good way of preventing it from becoming too compacted.

How to Park Without a Handbrake

If you don’t have a handbrake, it can cause a few problems. One of the biggest issues will be when parking on an incline. If possible, you should try to avoid this, as there is a risk that the car will roll away. If you are driving an automatic car, you should leave it in park. If you have a manual, you should put it in first gear.

Another good tip is to make sure that the tires are facing the curb. This ensures that, if the car does start to roll, the curb can act as a chock, stopping it from moving further.

How to Park Without Sensors

Having parking sensors can make parking your car a lot easier. They’ll be able to alert you when you are outside the bay. However, it is possible to park without these sensors. You will need to place greater reliance on your mirrors. You’ll also need to use the surrounding cars to judge whether you are in the spot.

Final Thoughts

For many people, parking a car can be a big challenge, particularly if you are new to driving. But, as long as you have a few simple principles in mind, it should be less nerve-racking. The more often you practice, the more confident you will become. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how to conquer any parking scenario.


I do this because I love helping save you time and money, by searching for free, or at least the cheap places to park.

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