1. Seek out a space you feel comfortable that you can safely get your car into without crunching into another car. Drive around the block until you find a larger gap if you need to; you will need a space that’s several feet longer than your car.
2. Check your rearview mirror and driver-side mirror as you approach the space to ensure another car is not riding on your tail. Signal toward the space as you approach it, slow down,and stop. If another motorist rides up on your rear, simply maintain your position and keep signaling. You might even need to roll down your window and wave the other driver around; they might not have realized you’re trying to park.
3. Line up your vehicle with the parked vehicle directly in front of your desired spot. Don’t get too close on the side, or you might scrape the other car when you make your move. But you also don’t want to be too far away―two or three feet will suffice. Position your vehicle parallel to the parked car, aligning your bumpers or staying two or three feet behind.
4. Put your vehicle in reverse. Check the driver-side mirror to make sure the street behind you is clear of traffic before you begin to back up. Then look over your other shoulder at the space to assess the gap. Turn the steering wheel hard right. You are about to execute the first part of the S-turn.
5. Release the brakes and slowly begin backing into the turn.
Visually check in front of and around your car often. Make sure you remain far enough away from the rear bumper of the vehicle in front of you as you slide in. If your rear tire hits the curb, you’ve gone too far; just shift gears and pull forward a few feet if this happens. (Note: Even the most gifted and seasoned parallel parkers do this―often.)
6. Turn the steering wheel to the left once the rear of your vehicle is predominantly in the space, still going backward. This is the last half of the S-turn, where you snake your way completely into the space and straighten out your car at the same time. Continue in reverse as far back as you can without tapping the bumper of the vehicle behind you.
7. Shift into drive and turn the steering wheel to the right again, and move forward gently toward the curb while centering your vehicle in the space.