Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How to Safely Park in a Small Space

woman in box between two cars

Parking spaces aren’t always plentiful, leaving you to choose ones that are outside your comfort zone. Sometimes, the only available parking space is a tight fit, which presents a parking challenge for you as a driver.

To avoid inadvertent scrapes or dents while pulling into a small spot, try one of these tried-and-true methods.

Method 1 of 2: Park in a standard space

Step 1: Visually assess the parking space. Using the width of the cars on either side of the small parking space and your own experience with parking, try to judge if there is enough room to fit your car or truck.

Mentally add at least a two feet clearance on both sides of your vehicle. Without that extra room, you will not be able to open your door to exit and others will not be able to enter the cars on each side either.

turn signal flipping

Step 2: Prepare to park. Turn on the indicator light and look for oncoming traffic or pedestrians. By switching on your turn signal light, you let vehicles behind you know your intention to slow down and turn into the available parking space.

Before veering off course, check your mirrors and turn your head to check that there is no one in the space between you and the open parking spot.

Step 3: Turn into the parking space. Slow your vehicle and begin to turn it towards the available parking space. Begin turning the wheel just as you inch past the vehicle closest to your parking space.

Step 4: Park your car. Pull your car completely into the tight space, keeping a close watch on your surroundings. You may have to turn the wheel a little and back up, then repeat it multiple times to be able to pull into a tight spot.

  • Tip: During this process, frequently look around you to make sure you will not hit another car, person or object.

Once you have managed to get your vehicle into the spot, place it in park, stop the ignition, and exit your vehicle.

Method 2 of 2: Park in a parallel space

Step 1: See if your vehicle will fit in the small parking space. If there are cars behind you, you will need to decide quickly if there is enough room to fit your vehicle with a few inches to spare both in front and behind you. Visually assess the room and use the lengths of surrounding vehicles and your own parking experience to guide you in making this decision.

Step 2: Indicate that you intend to park. Switch on your turn light and slow your vehicle. This lets any traffic behind you know that you intend to park, so that they will allow you the room to do so and also prevent a collision.

car pulled ahead

Step 3: Pull up ahead of the space. Pull up at a car’s length past the open space, stop, and check your mirrors. Situating your vehicle parallel with the vehicle in front of the tight space puts you in the best position to back into the open spot without hitting any parked cars. Always check your mirrors and turn your head to ensure that no other vehicle or person has moved behind you.

car backing into spot

Step 4: Back into the small parallel parking space. Turn the wheel towards the parking spot sharply and back up a couple of feet at a time. Each time you back up a bit, take a look around to ensure you aren’t on a collision course with another vehicle or pedestrian. Then, straighten the wheels and back up a bit.

car parked parallel

Repeat the process of turning, looking, and straightening the wheels until you have maneuvered your vehicle into the tight space. Then, you can place your vehicle in park, turn off the ignition, and go on your way.

Whether parking in a standard or parallel space that is especially tight, it is imperative to do so carefully, in order to be safe. Take your time to make the necessary adjustments to your steering wheel and be vigilant in checking your surroundings for unexpected vehicles or people. If, after beginning the parking process, you feel that the parking spot will not fit your vehicle, don’t hesitate to abandon the tight space and look for another. After all, it is less of a hassle to walk further than it is to deal with automotive damage from misjudging distance and bumping or scraping another car.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Idaho
The state of Idaho offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...


Related questions

Q: Car stuck in park, traction control quit working

Hello. I suspect that the one of the plastic arms connecting the shifter to the transmission has broke or come out of place. The plastic stalk is a form of shift linkage and has been known to break overtime and leave...

Q: How do I adjust the steering wheel?

Before driving, you should always adjust your steering wheel until it is in the optimal position for you. To adjust the steering wheel, push down on the Lock lever, which is located directly below the steering wheel. Then, move the...

Q: Car revved & lurched over curb while foot was on brake

Hey there, hopefully everyone was safe after this experience. My suggestion would be to have the vehicle towed to the nearest dealer to have the vehicle checked. There has been many possible complaints for this problem with other owners and...