How to Parallel Park

With a little geometry and a few ground rules, you can snug into just about any spot. Or, you know, you could just pull the handbrake and rip off a J-turn.

Rules of thumb and experience help, but we prefer repeatable experiments. And if you see this and laugh, you’re probably not as good as you think you are. Thankfully, the recipe for a one-move parking job is pretty simple.

1. Pull alongside the car ahead of the space you want. Align your rear axle with that car’s bumper. Turn the wheel toward the curb at full lock.

2. Back up until the center of your inside rear tire aligns with the streetside edge of the forward car. Straighten wheel, continue to reverse.

3. When your outside tire aligns with that same edge, turn the wheel the other way.

4. If all went according to plan, you’re in the space, bodywork intact. Get out and admire your work.

MATHEMATICALLY PROVEN!

Or you could just kinda eyeball it.

THE ALTERNATIVES

Pull the Handbrake >> Two original-Mini-driving English brothers share the Guinness record for tight parallel parking, at 5.2 extra inches. The secret: a precise J-turn (plus a few chrome-crunching failed attempts).

Press a Button >> Electric power steering and sonar help some modern cars literally park themselves. Ford says its customers’ biggest gripe is that they can’t get out of spots that the car puts itself in.

Originally posted at Road & Track.

 

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