How to Reverse Parallel Park

Plenty of Australians are unsure about how to parallel park, so you can learn how to do it right here with Savvy.
Published on December 1st, 2020
  Written by 
Thomas Perrotta
Thomas Perrotta is the managing editor of Savvy. Throughout his time at the company, Thomas has specialised in personal finance, namely car, personal and small loans, although he has also written on topics ranging from mortgages to business loans to banking and more. Thomas graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Media, majoring in journalism, and has previously had his work published in The Advertiser.
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   Reviewed by 
Bill Tsouvalas


Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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Reverse parallel parking is perhaps the most infamous driving manoeuvre worldwide in terms of its difficulty. According to a survey from October 2023 by Budget Direct, 57% of all respondents reported feelings of stress or anxiety related to parallel parking. So, how do you do it? We’ve broken down the steps for a successful parallel park to help you approach it with more confidence, so read all about it with Savvy today!

The steps involved in reverse parallel parking

It’s important to learn the process of parallel parking inside out if you’re looking to master the manoeuvre. These steps are:

  1. Find a suitable space: look for a spot that's at least one metre longer than your car. This will give you ample space to manoeuvre comfortably. Once you find one, turn on your left indicator to signal your intention to park.
  2. Pull up alongside the car in front: slowly drive past the car in front of the empty space, aiming to position your car half a metre to a metre away from it. According to RACQ, you should aim to line up your car’s front wheel with the wing mirror of the car beside you.
  3. Blind spot check: perform a check over your left shoulder and check your wing mirrors and blind spots for any approaching vehicles or cyclists. Once the coast is clear, slowly begin to reverse.
  4. Reverse and steer: reverse your car until the rear of the car in front of your park appears in your back window. Once you see the rear, turn your wheel counterclockwise (to the right) until it locks, angling the rear of your car towards the curb. While reversing, keep checking your mirrors and blind spots for any hazards.
  5. Straighten the wheel: when you see the bumper of the car in front lining up with your left wing mirror, start turning your steering wheel to the right. This will start aligning your car parallel to the curb.
  6. Complete the park: continue reversing slowly and making small adjustments to your steering wheel as needed to ensure your car is positioned parallel to the curb and centred in the parking space.

Knowing when and where to practice your parking

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, which is certainly the case when it comes to parallel parking. According to Eclipse Driving School, it’s crucial to find an environment which provides as little stress as possible. This should be one where there’s plenty of space to park without any major risk of hitting another car or hindering other vehicles.

Some of the most common places to practice reverse parallel parking are spacious, empty carparks (which have the benefit of distinct line marking) and quiet streets with wide roads and few cars parked. If you’re practicing in an area without many cars or marked lines, it may be worth bringing cones along to help guide you into parks more effectively.

The car technology that could help you reverse parallel park

Advancements in technology have meant that drivers now receive more support than ever when it comes to reverse parallel parking. Some of the safety features that can assist you in executing the manoeuvre include:

  • Automatic parallel parking: this feature uses sensors and cameras to detect a suitable parking space and steers the car into the spot while you control the accelerator and brake pedals. As the name suggests, this is the most directly helpful feature, as it takes some of the stress and complexity off the driver.
  • Reversing camera: a reversing camera provides a live video feed of the area directly behind your car displayed on the dashboard screen. This gives you a clear visual of your car's position relative to the curb and parked cars, helping you judge the distance and alignment during the manoeuvre.
  • Front and rear collision sensors: sensors at the front and back of the vehicle detect potential obstacles, typically emitting audible warnings as you get closer. These sensors can help you avoid making contact with the parked cars in front and behind you during the reversing and manoeuvring stages. They provide an extra layer of caution, especially when judging tight spaces.
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB): this safety system uses sensors to detect an imminent collision and automatically applies the brakes to avoid a crash or minimise its impact if it doesn’t receive any input from the driver. While not directly designed for parking, AEB can act as a safety net in case of misjudgement during reversing. 

It's important to note that none of the above features are a total substitute for careful manoeuvring and shouldn't be relied upon solely while parking. Even automatic parallel parking still requires you to work the pedals and brakes, meaning it's not all out of your hands.

If you’re in the market for a new car with safety features to help you parallel park more effectively, you can compare a wide variety of car finance options right here with Savvy today.

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