How to become a parking proFebruary 2, 2011 | in Defensive Driving Online
Parking—particularly parallel parking—can be daunting for many. The secret to becoming a master parker is simple: be patient, go slowly, and practice, practice, practice. Here are a few key tips to keep in mind.
The basic idea is simple. You want to maneuver the car in a backwards S in order to slide between two cars and end up parallel to the curb. Follow these steps:
1. Locate a space that is large enough for your vehicle. If you aren’t confident in your ability to fit into the space, move on.
2. Signal with your indicator and check your mirrors. If there are cars behind you, make sure that they have stopped far enough back to allow you to complete your maneuver. If not, wait for them to pass.
3. Pull forward to align your car with the car you will park behind. You want to be parallel to and about two to three feet away from this car.
4. Shift your car into reverse and check your mirrors again. If the coast is clear, turn your wheel far to the right and begin to back into the space.
5. Once the bulk of your car is in the space, turn the wheel to the left, so that your back wheels are pulling you straight back. This will bring the front end of your car into the space and make your car parallel with the curb.
6. If your rear wheels hit the curb before you can turn left, simply pull forward a bit before straightening out.
7. Once you’ve got your car into the space, shift back into a forward gear. Turn the wheel to right, and pull forward slowly to center your car in the space.
8. Open your door to check your distance to the curb. You should be no more than 18 inches from the curb. Twelve inches or less is ideal.
If you’ve ended up way too far from the curb or haven’t made it into the space entirely, pull out of the space and return to your original starting position. Then, try again. Be patient.
PARKING ON A HILL OR INCLINE
If possible, try to park perpendicular to the incline or avoid parking on the hill at all. If you do have to parallel park on a hill, however, there are a few things you should be sure to do.
First, put the car in park. In a manual transmission car, leave the car in gear.
Next, apply your parking brake. You should get in the habit of always doing this, even in a car with automatic transmission, as it will prevent potential accidents and reduce wear on the transmission.
Next, turn your wheels. If your car is pointing uphill, turn the steering wheel away from the curb. If you’re pointing downhill, turn the wheel towards the curb; should the car start to roll, the wheels will immediately come into contact with the curb. Even if the curb doesn’t stop the car, at least the car won’t slide straight back and gather momentum.
If you’re on a particularly steep hill or you don’t trust your parking break, chock the wheels by wedging a wooden block or stone under the downhill side of one or more of the wheels.
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