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Summary
  • Choose a parking spot with empty spaces on both sides. Activate your turn signal in the direction of the parking space you’re entering.
  • Drive until your rearview mirror lines up with the outside line of a parking space two spots over. After that, shift your ride into reverse and turn your steering wheel towards the parking spot.
  • Once the rear bumper of your vehicle is halfway inside the parking spot, stop your vehicle and straighten the wheel. Reverse until your vehicle is in the slot.

If you want to know how to reverse park your vehicle consistently, follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose an empty parking spot
  2. Activate your turn signal
  3. Drive two spots ahead of your preferred parking spot
  4. Turn the steering wheel towards the parking spot
  5. Look behind you while you reverse
  6. Straighten your wheels
  7. Reverse until you reach the end of the parking spot
  8. Confirm your vehicle is aligned with the parking lines
  9. Park, turn off your vehicle, and exit

Back Parking Made Simple: How to Park in Reverse

There’s no denying that reverse parking is difficult, and new drivers might find it too daunting to even try. Still, every driver should know how to reverse park for the sake of their safety.

When you reverse park, you’ll have a much easier time seeing your surroundings when you exit your parking spot. This way, you can minimize accidents and drive straight out without any complications.

driver uses car features to assist reverse parking
There’s no denying that reverse parking is difficult, and new drivers might find it too daunting to even try.

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to park in reverse like a pro:

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Pick a Good, Empty Parking Spot

The best parking spots are the ones that have empty spaces on both sides. Bear in mind that this isn’t always going to be feasible, especially in more crowded parking spaces.

Good parking spaces also have overhead lights. If you plan on parking at night, or if you plan on leaving your vehicle parked overnight, make sure to park near a light source.

Activate Your Turn Signal

Make sure to activate the turn signal in the direction of the parking space you’re entering. Odds are the other drivers will see what you’re trying to do and go around you instead of waiting. Activating your turn signal is a simple courtesy you owe to every other driver around you. This way, people will be able to know which direction you’re going to go.

Drive Two Spots Beyond Where You Will Park

After getting your bearings, drive until your rearview mirror lines up with the outside line of a parking space two spots over. These parking lines will help you estimate how far you need to pull forward to turn in.

This part is tricky at first. But with enough practice, you’ll be able to get more accurate readings of where to stop your vehicle. Make sure you pull up about a foot away from the openings of the other parking spots.

Turn Your Steering Wheel Towards the Parking Spot

Now that your vehicle is in position, shift your vehicle into reverse and turn the steering wheel as far as it can go. Make sure the wheels of your vehicle are tilted in the same direction as the parking spot. For example, if your parking spot is on your right, turn the wheel towards the right. This way, you’ll always know exactly how sharp your turn will be.

Look Behind You While Back Parking

While your vehicle is in reverse, take a look around. You must pay careful attention to your surroundings and take extra care that your vehicle isn’t going to bump anything along the way. Look in all directions, especially when you’re in a busy parking lot.

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When you’re looking behind you, make sure to look at the direction your vehicle is going. While backup cameras are useful, you can get a better gauge of how close or far you are from obstacles with your own eyes.

Straighten Your Wheels

Once the rear bumper of your vehicle is halfway inside the parking spot, stop your vehicle and straighten the wheel. Turn your steering wheel until your rear tires are perfectly parallel with the parking lines in your chosen parking spot.

Make sure to reverse slowly so you can properly tell whether or not your wheels are parallel. Backup cameras often tell you whether or not your wheels are aligned with your parking spot so don’t be afraid to use those for help.

Reverse Into the End of the Spot

Now that your wheels are straight and parallel with your parking spot, reverse slowly. You’ll need to back up your vehicle until it is fully inside the slot. Just be sure not to reverse too far back if you want to avoid bumping the rear end of your vehicle against the curb.

Usually, you can stop reversing once your front bumper reaches the end of the parking lines. For those of you with smaller vehicles, you might need to back up even further. You can use your backup camera to get a better look at what’s behind you.

Look Around You and Make Adjustments

Once your vehicle is fully parked, gently open the door. It’s important to open the door as slowly as possible to avoid bumping it into any obstacles. Once the space is large enough for you to poke your head out of, examine the parking lines and confirm that your vehicle is parallel with them.

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If your vehicle veers towards one side more than the other, you can pull forward to try and correct the angle. This way, other drivers won’t have to deal with driving away from a vehicle that’s been parked diagonally.

Park Your Vehicle and Turn It Off

After you’re positive that your vehicle is perfectly aligned (or at least as close to perfect as it can be) with the parking lines, you can park your vehicle. Engage your parking brake, the keys out of the ignition, and carefully open the door. Once all these steps are complete, you’re free to exit the vehicle and go about your business!

Reverse Parking Tips: The Do’s and Don’ts of Parking Your Vehicle

Though parking in reverse might sound easy on paper, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. For example, it might not be obvious to keep an eye out for pedestrians. It’s hard to pay attention to your surroundings when you’re looking back. You could accidentally bump into someone without even realizing it.

Here are the different dos and don’ts of parking your vehicle.

Do…

  • Park in the right spot for your vehicle.
  • Pay extra attention to the different parking restrictions.
  • Park between the parking lines.
  • Make your vehicle as visible to other drivers as possible.
  • Check your mirrors frequently to avoid bumping into things.
  • Keep an eye out for pedestrians in front of you and behind you.

Don’t…

  • Touch other people’s vehicles, even if they’re parked.
  • Block the paths of other vehicles.
  • Take up more than one lane when parking.
  • Drive over the front line of the parking space.
  • Tailgate other drivers.
  • Neglect your turn signals when parking.
About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Automotive Features Reviewer at CarParts.com

Lisa Conant grew up in Canada around a solid contingency of gear heads and DIY motor enthusiasts. She is an eclectic writer with a varied repertoire in the automotive industry, including research pieces with a focus on daily drivers and recreational vehicles. Lisa has written for Car Bibles and The Drive.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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