How to Parallel Park - Step-by-Step Instructions

How to Parallel Park - Step-by-step instructions.

How to Parallel Park | Pass a Road Test



1) Locate the parking space – is the space legal and is it approximately 1 ½ times the size of your care;
2) Mirror, signal, shoulder check to the right-of-way Pull up beside the car (3 feet from the car—in front of the parking space you whish to back into and stop when you line of the rear bumpers—you will be able to see the rear of the vehicle through your rear right window;
3) Put the car into reverse so the reverse lights activate telling traffic that you are going to park;
4) Put on your right signal, if you haven't done so already;
5) Locate your 45° degree reference point which should be straight out form the door post—the reference marker can be any fixed object;
6) Release the brake and back slowly steering rapidly all the way to the right without any gas and backing until your are facing your reference point;
7) At this point the rear bumper o the car should be in line with your steering wheel;
8) Straighten the wheels and back until the bumper of the parked car is ½ to 1/3 the way down your hood or the front of your car clears the parked car;
9) Steer rapidly all the way to the left and back until the car is straight in the space;
10) Stop;
11) Put the transmission in “Drive” and pull forward and centre your car in the space – you should be able to see the top of the rear bumper of the car in front of you – the car should be 6-9” inches (20-30cm) from the curb

Closed Caption


Hi there smart drivers, Rick with Smart Drive Test talking to you today about parallel parking. Whoo-hoo-hoo.. the dreaded parallel park! And I am not laughing at you - I share your frustration in the challenge of parallel parking for the purposes of a road test.

When I did my instructors' course, I had to do a parallel park and not only that, I had to do step-by-step instructions of how I would teach a student.

Now up to that point, I'd been parallel parking 18-wheelers, so I thought, you know, parallel parking your car - not too much trouble.

But when I was on my practical test for my instructors' license, all I remember thinking was, "don't hit the curb, don't hit the curb, don't hit the curb!"

So your frustrations and challenges with parallel parking are well-founded.

And today, hopefully we're going to shed some light on that.

Now one point that I do want to make about frustrations and parallel parking for the purposes of a road test is, if you do bump the curb don't freak out.

It's not an automatic fail on a road test if you bump the curb: simply pull forward, adjust the vehicle and back into the space.

It is an automatic fail if you push the tire over the curb or knock the examiner out of her seat!

Don't give up on that.

And the other note about parallel parking – practice, practice, practice.

And when you're practicing in your neighbourhood and you're parallel parking off cars, do it two times and then go and find another car.

Otherwise people are looking out the window, wondering what you're doing. So today I'm going to talk about parallel parking and shed some light on how to do that maneuver for the purposes of a road test. We'll be right back with that information. Stick around!

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So what we're going to do today is I'm going to go over the step-by-step instructions here in the studio with you and then afterwards we're going to go out to the car and we're going to parallel park and give you some practical demonstration on how to go about parallel parking.

Parallel parking is probably one of the most complex slow-speed manoeuvres on a road test. Learn step-by-step instructions for parallel parking here.

As well, you may be saying to yourself, "now why do I have to parallel park because I'm never going to parallel park after I get my license anyway?"

And we know as driving instructors that a great many people never parallel park again after they get their license.

Making You a Better Driver Overall

However, it teaches you due care and control of the vehicle and how to control the primary controls of the vehicle:

1) the steering wheel;

2) the throttle (gas pedal, accelerator);

3) and the brake;

4) in a manual car, it will also be the clutch.

And when you are able to proficiently execute slow speed maneuvers, it makes you a better driver overall!

You are a better driver because you have mastery of the primary controls and know where your vehicle is in space and place.

In other words, you know where your vehicle is in relation to other road users and fixed objects.

So this is going to transfer into your larger driving.

So let's get started with parallel parking.

On the Road Test - Behind One Vehicle

Now for the purposes of your road test, driving examiners are rarely going to make you park between two vehicles.

It's just questionable on their part in terms of safety.

And the fact is it's just too daunting for new drivers who are stressed out because of the test.

And you know, their driving skills are not at a high level.

So most of the time, they're just going to make you parallel park off one vehicle.

There will not be a vehicle behind you.

So just keep that in mind when you're parallel parking.

That may ease some of your tension when you actually go for the road test.

Is the Space Legal?

Now if you're taking driving lessons, your driving instructor may in fact make you parallel park between two vehicles.

But for the most part on a road test... unless they're a real ogre, they're not going to make you parallel park between two vehicles.

They're just going to make you park behind one vehicle.

So that's the first thing - get that out of the way.

The next thing is... so first thing you do when you pull up to the car, make sure the space is legal.

Of course the driving examiner's not going to try and trick you, it's going to be a legal space.

So you want to make sure there's no fire hydrants or you're not parking in front of somebody's laneway or whatnot.

Setting Up the Parallel Park

And you pull up to beside the other vehicle and you want the rear bumpers of the vehicles to be in line with each other.

And when you pull up here beside the other vehicle, you want their to rear bumpers in line with each other and when you look out the passenger window--the rear passenger window-- you should be able to see the back corner of the vehicle through your rear passenger window.

When lining up the vehicle for parallel parking you want to line up the rear bumpers. Some times you can do that by lining up the wing mirrors if the vehicles are similar size.

If you don't have a rear window, line up the wing mirrors. You may have to make some minor adjustments depending on the vehicle you're driving.

That's how you know that the rear bumpers will be lined up.

As well, this space here between the two vehicles should be 1 meter or three feet.

Imagine a pedestrian standing between your vehicle and the parked vehicle - that is approximately 1m or 3ft'.

So you pull up beside the vehicle - as you approach the vehicle, mirror, signal shoulder check.

So you put your signal on, you shoulder check and you looked in your mirror to make sure that you could park there.

As well, as soon as you get up beside the other vehicle and you put three feet between you and the other vehicle and you're lined up with the bumpers on the rear, put your vehicle in "reverse."

That way traffic behind you knows that you're going to back up and you're going to parallel park.

Pick Out Your 45° Mark

The other thing you want to do as soon as you stop, breathe, put it in reverse, take a moment and find and locate your 45° degree marker.

And you can see here in the image how you locate the 45° degrees.

Most of the time, the 45° degrees is either going to be somewhere around the post in the front windshield on your left side - so you're going to find your 45° degree mark.

After setting up the vehicle to parallel park--3 feet from the other vehicle with the rear bumpers lined up--pick out your 45° degree marker.

Turn the Wheel to the Right

So the next thing you do, you find your 45° degree mark--you've already got it in reverse--you turn the steering wheel all the way to the right, and start to back up.

And you back up until you are at 45° degrees and you are facing direct on your 45° degree mark.

When you hit your 45° degree mark, you bring the steering wheel back to straight.

On most passenger vehicles--cars & light trucks—you're going to bring it back one and a half turns, until your wheels are straight.

1/3 to 1/2 Down the Hood

Then you're going to continue to back up into the space until you are approximately one-third--so this is the post--one-third past the back corner of that vehicle before you turn the steering wheel all the way the left.

And the vehicle comes around and you back up until this vehicle is straight in the space.

Once you get the vehicle straight in the space, you move forward until you can just see the top of the rear bumper on the vehicle in front of you.

Secure the Vehicle

When you're finished parallel parking and you get the vehicle into the space you stop, you secure the vehicle by putting it in "Park."

Most of you are going to be driving an automatic transmission. Put it into park and apply the parking brake.

For those of you driving a manual--if you're brave enough to drive a manual on your road test--put it into a low gear--first gear--apply the parking brake, secure the vehicle and shut it off.

Now when you get the vehicle into the space behind the other vehicle, the examiner-- most of the time--is going to open the door and s/he will have a look to see how far you are from the curb.

You will NOT fail a road test for being too far from the curb. You will be assigned demerits, but it shouldn't fail you, unless you get too many demerits overall.

Now you should be 6-9" inches from the curb or 15 to 20 centimeters from the curb behind this vehicle.

Parallel Parking Variables

The one other factor that you need to keep in mind is when you're pulling up to the space and locating the space as to where you're going to parallel park - this vehicle here, if this vehicle is wider or farther away from the curb, then you need to go deeper into the space.

So you'll need to go farther down the hood, probably halfway down the hood before you turn the steering wheel all the way the left to get into that space.


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So quick recap on how you parallel park.

To set up, you come up to the space, you locate the space - the space is legal?

Mirror, signal, shoulder check to make sure that you can pull into the space.

Pull up to this... beside this vehicle so you're three feet away from the vehicle or 1 meter.

Stop your vehicle so that you can see the rear corner here--the taillight of the vehicle--through the window of the rear passenger window on your vehicle.

Stop, put the vehicle into reverse right away so that vehicles behind you will know that you're backing up into that space.

Locate your 45° degree mark, turn your steering wheel all to the right, back up until you're facing square on your 45° degree mark.

When you get to your 45° degree mark, bring your steering wheel back to straight--one-and-a-half turns--and back up until the back corner is one-third to one-half way down the hood, depending on how far this vehicle is away from the curb or how wide it is.

When it's one-half to one-third, bring your steering wheel--turn your steering wheel all the way to the left--into the space.

When the vehicle is straight in the space behind the vehicle in front of you, stop, put it in a forward gear, and pull up until you can just see the top of the bumper - the rear bumper of the vehicle in front of you.

Stop, secure the vehicle by applying the parking brake and putting it into park.

Immediately after stopping beside the vehicle that you're going to parallel park behind, put the transmission in reverse to activate the reverse lights.

The driving examiner will look to see how far you are from the curb.

All going well, you're 6-9" inches or 15 to 20 centimeters from the curb.

So what we're going to do, we're going to go out to the car, to go for a drive, find a car and we're going to show you how to parallel park in a car.

Locate the space, that vehicle's about average normal....so we pull up. Stop so I can see the rear of the vehicle just straight down there.

Pick out my 45° degree angle, which is this bump in the hedge here.

I've got in "reverse," so that I can see.

All the way to the right with the steering wheel. Ok I'm facing my 45° mark - right there. I come halfway down the hood... right about there.

All the way to the left with the steering wheel.

Back all the way in. We're straight and we stop... into first gear.

Steer all the way back, and pull up and stop so we can see the top of the bumper. Secure the vehicle.

[MUSIC: MEAN STREETZ--Downloaded from YouTube's Audio Library]


So in conclusion, today we talked about parallel parking.

We talked about the setup: making sure that when you pull up to the parking space that it is legal and that you can park there - that you're not parking in front of fire hydrant other places that you cannot park.

You pull up beside the other vehicle - three feet from the other vehicle.

And you should be able to see the rear of that vehicle--its tail light in the back corner of the passenger side window on the door in your vehicle.

And then we showed you a clip of that. You pick out your 45° degree mark.

You turn your steering wheel all the way to the right, and back up until you are facing that 45° degree mark.

And then you come down the hood a third to half way, depending on how far that other vehicle is away from the curb.

If it's close you don't go down the hood very far; if it's farther away or a bigger vehicle then you're going to go farther down the hood - so deeper into the parking space.

When you get a third of the way down the hood or halfway down the hood, you're going to turn your steering wheel all the way to the left.

And back in until the vehicle is straight.

And then pull up just so you can see the top of the bumper of the vehicle in front of you.

Stop and secure the vehicle so it will be in "Park."

Most of you will be driving an automatic transmission, so you'll put it into park and then put the parking brake on and stop.

And tell the examiner that you're done.

Oftentimes the examiner--all going well, you didn't hit the curb and whatnot--will open the door and check to see how far you are from the curb.

And ideally you should be 6-9" inches or 15 to 20 centimeters, if you're measuring in metric.

That's how you do a parallel park.

Question for my smart drivers:

What technique do you use to parallel park? And for those veteran drivers, do you still parallel park?

Because we know as driving instructors, that seventy percent-- approximately seventy percent of drivers-- do not parallel park after they get their licenses.

It's just too daunting of a task. So leave a comment down in the comment section there - answer the question. All that helps out the new drivers learning to get their license.


I'm Rick with Smart Drive Test.

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Thanks again for watching. Good luck on your road test.

Remember pick the best answer not necessarily the right answer.

Have a great day.

Bye now.



Ohhhh, let's see how that works?

How's that workin?

Looks pretty good. I look pretty hot don't I? [LAUGHING]

I am a good looking guy... yeah I am... yes I am!

I don't know... the lighting looks pretty good too!?

Good frame, got that setup.

I don't think it's going to go anywhere!?

We are ready to go and do the video on parallel parking...

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