How to Park in a Parking Lot

by Genevieve Van WydenUpdated September 26, 2017
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As a beginning driver, you are learning new procedures and functions. Everything you do behind the steering wheel of your car has to be conducted with safety in mind (your safety as well as the safety of other drivers and pedestrians). Whether you are taking private driving lessons from a driver's education company or at your high school, or learning from your parents, you need to learn how to park in a parking space correctly.

Locate a large parking lot that isn’t too full so that you can practice with empty areas and areas that have cars already parked. You want to practice parking in the empty area first, until you get comfortable before attempting to park next to someone else’s car.

Pull up to an empty parking stall slowly, until your front left tire is even with the painted stall line nearest to you. Signal your intent to turn left. Slow down until you’re almost stopped, and begin to turn your steering wheel to the left. As you’re pulling your car in, keep track of your distance from the painted stall line to your left. With your car in Park, check your distance from both painted lines.

Straighten your steering wheel out and continue to pull into the parking stall slowly. If there is a concrete curb ahead of you, pull your car up until your front tires bump this curb. If your car is a low-clearance car, however, stop before you reach the curb so that you don’t damage the underside of your car. Continue practicing in parking spots with no adjacent cars until you feel comfortable parking.

Move to an area of the parking lot which has some cars already parked. Look for an empty stall that has two sedans or smaller cars parked on either side; it will be harder to pull in and reverse out if you are between two large SUVs. Ask your instructor to demonstrate parking between two vehicles as you watch.

Practice parking between two vehicles or next to one vehicle, pulling your left tire even with the painted parking line. (You have been practicing pulling into a stall nearest to you.)

Begin practicing parking in a stall on your right side in order to learn how to gauge the distance between the right side of your car and the painted stall line. Pull up to an empty spot slowly until your right tire is even with the painted line, signal your intent to turn right and turn into the stall and straighten your steering wheel out. Pull up to the curb, stop and put your car into Park. Check your car’s distance from both painted stall lines.

Items you will need

  • Learner's permit

  • Licensed driver over the age of 21 in passenger seat

  • Large parking lot with some parked cars

  • Location for curb parking


As you practice pulling in next to parked cars, you need to learn to gauge the distance between the front of your car and the side of the car you’re next to. Make sure the car stops before you begin to park so you can double check the pavement marking that designates your parking spot If it “looks like” you’re too close, you probably are. Reverse and correct your angle, either to the right or left. Before you physically reverse the car, look back to make sure there are no cars or pedestrians behind you. Remember the concrete curbs, both the ones that run the length of the parking lot and the short, individual ones for each parking spot. If you put your car into Drive as you’re leaving and you pull out over those curbs, you may cause significant damage to the undercarriage and radiator of your car.


Don’t wait to stop and reverse and correct your angle if you’re already too close to the side of another car. You’ll dent or, at the very least, scratch that car as you’re pulling in.

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