Car clinic: The art of parallel parking

In the first in our series of Car Clinic articles, we take a look at how to master the art of parallel parking. Learning how to parallel park is a rite of passage that every driver has to go through. For those who dread it, there can be nothing more stressful than trying to fit into a tight spot as you're holding up traffic and enduring the scrutiny of your passengers and pedestrians.

In the first in our series of Car Clinic articles, we take a look at how to master the art of parallel parking. Learning how to parallel park is a rite of passage that every driver has to go through. For those who dread it, there can be nothing more stressful than trying to fit into a tight spot as you're holding up traffic and enduring the scrutiny of your passengers and pedestrians.

Of course, when you do master the perfect parallel, the process can actually be quite rewarding. So here are a few easy steps that are sure to make parallel parking as second nature as tying your shoes.

1 - When you spot an available parking spot (on the right-hand side of the street), check the traffic behind you, signal to the right and start slowing down.
2 - Pull up in front of the available spot and make sure your vehicle is no less than one meter away from the car to the right.
Tip : When you've pulled over, make sure your back tires are lined up with the back bumper of the car to your right. This will ensure a more successful start to the process.

3 - Put the car in reverse and keep your foot on the brake. Turn the wheel all the way to the right and slowly back up - keeping the wheel in that position.
4 - Once your vehicle is at a 45-degree angle to the curb, stop briefly, turn the wheels all the way to the left and continue to reverse.
Tip : Some people like to adjust their passenger side mirror to see the curb. A rule of thumb - if the curb disappears in the mirror when it is pointed down, you are probably too close to the curb.

5 - As you're easing into the space, gradually straighten your wheels once the front of your vehicle has cleared the back bumper of the car in front of you.
Tip : If you hit the curb, not to worry. You can either pull out and start over, or make small corrections to get your vehicle back to where it's supposed to be. To do so, slowly inch forward (wheels to the right) until you're close to the back bumper of the car in front of you. Then reverse (wheels to the left) and repeat the process until you've straightened your vehicle. These small corrections are key to getting into a really tight spot, especially in tight spots where it's almost impossible to do it in one fluid movement.

6 - Then, put the car in drive, turn the wheel all the way to the right again and inch forward to get as close to the car in front of you as possible.
7 - Put the car in reverse, back up straight and center your vehicle leaving the same amount of space between the car in front and the one behind.
8 - Finally, put your vehicle in park, turn off the engine, get out and take a look at a thing of beauty - the perfect parallel parking.

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