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How to Parallel Park: Tips & Tricks for Smooth Parking

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7 min read

How to Parallel Park: Tips & Tricks for Smooth Parking

When driving in any country, there are several manoeuvres that can be used when parking your car. The UK is no different, but it is important to know the basic rules and methodology when it comes to parking here, especially if you’re from elsewhere but visiting.

The importance of parking properly in a rental car

If you’re arriving into the UK at one of the many airports, such as London Heathrow, Edinburgh, or Manchester, then you’ll perhaps have already decided to rent a car for your trip to the UK. If this is the case, it’s even more important to make sure that you can park the car safely, and without incident across the isles. Failure to do so can lead to extra costs being added onto your trip unexpectedly through parking tickets, or worse, as a result of damage to your car. Some rental companies also charge high admin fees to deal with any fines that come to them for the period in which you rented the car. So it’s worth taking the time to learn how to park confidently and correctly. If in doubt, park elsewhere!

How to park the car?

Most people acquire the skills needed to parallel park successfully when they take driving lessons and pass their driving test. However, it often takes a little bit longer for drivers to hone their skills so that they can parallel park seamlessly. And, there are some people who never master the skill at all if we’re honest.

Practice makes perfect

Firstly, a good practice as you pass the space you want to park in, is to also eyeball the space to visualise whether your car will physically fit. Also, check whether there is any debris or obstruction in the space that may impede your use of it. If you believe the car will fit and everything is clear, draw your vehicle alongside the car in front of the space you intend to park in. A safe method to adopt is to align your back bumper with the back bumper of the car you’re pulling alongside. You should also turn on the corresponding indicator to the direction of travel to the curb you’ll be taking. Finally, make sure you aren’t too close to the already parked car, even if you are trying to stay out of the way of any passing cars.

Next, check your mirrors thoroughly so that you don’t hit anyone or anything as you continue the manoeuvre. Finally, turn the steering wheel towards the curb so that your front wheels arc the car as you reverse it. Reverse the car slowly at a roughly 45-degree angle as you enter the sport. Make sure to keep checking your blind spot, mirrors, and distance from the parked car behind you throughout the manoeuvre.

To finish

When the front of your car is clear of the parked car in front, turn the steering wheel in the direction away from the curb. When you’re parallel to the curb, straighten the steering wheel to straighten the tires. Finally, make any small adjustments needed using the gap between your car and the cars behind and in front of you. Be considerate and check that there is room to walk between your car and these parked cars so that the owners have access to their car boot for example, or pedestrians can get through.

Where can you parallel park?

When parallel parking in the UK, remember to park in the direction of travel. In addition, you must make sure that there aren’t any parking restrictions in place. For example, parking on double or single yellow lines is not allowed. Likewise, you might see red lines in London. These are called red routes, with single lines usually enforced during standard working hours, and double red lines enforced at all times. Check parking signs in the vicinity to confirm any other parking restrictions based on time or day that may mean you can’t park there. If there’s a parking meter or ticket machine, make sure to pay for parking accordingly!

More often than not, the safest plan is to only park in designated parking bays that are marked out on the road. You must park the car completely within the lines, so this means the tyres should all be within the lines. The tyres should not have mounted the pavement either. It’s also advisable that they are not tightly compressed against the curb because this can increase pressure and damage the tyres permanently. Do note that it is fine if the car bumpers hang over the parking bay lines though. If you’re concerned, always take a picture of your parked car from all angles and of the parking restriction sign. These pictures can be used as supporting evidence if you find yourself with a parking ticket.