Parallel parking is often one of the most difficult driving skills to master. It takes time, patience, and confidence. Unfortunately, when driving a car rental vehicle in a busy city like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, or Toronto, parallel parking may be your only option, especially when frequenting a busy downtown area. What's more, parallel parking becomes increasingly challenging if you are driving a larger car rental vehicle like an SUV or van.
What is parallel parking?
Simply put, parallel parking is whenever you park at a curbside location, between two other vehicles or objects. You will be backing your car rental vehicle into a space parallel, or beside your car, rather than pulling forward, or backing straight into a parking space in a garage or lot. You will also be using an imaginary or real vehicle ahead of the spot you plan to enter, and parallel to your vehicle, to help guide you into the parking spot. Parallel parking almost always occurs in an urban setting on a street.
Quick Tips For Parallel Parking
Never pull forward into a space. Driving forward into a space between two vehicles may seem like the simple answer, but it isn’t. Often when you are parallel parking, it is on a busy street with traffic. When you pull in forward, you will likely leave the rear portion of your vehicle sticking out dangerously into the street. As well, when you reverse your vehicle to adjust it into the space, you will likely have less maneuverability due to the angle of your vehicle and rear wheels.
Take a deep breath and relax. Even though traffic might be waiting behind you, it’s always important to take your time. Moving slowly into the space will protect your vehicle, allow you to check your mirrors, and will make adjustments easier. Parallel parking is a part of city driving, and most drivers expect small delays for vehicles parking.
Know your vehicle. One of the biggest difficulties when parallel parking a car rental or van rental, is you are not familiar with the width or length of the vehicle. Every time you climb into your rental car, take a walk around the vehicle so that you can begin to process the dimensions of your car.
How to Parallel Park Your Car Rental
- Before you even slow down, the first step to take is to check your mirrors to make sure traffic behind you is a safe distance away. Once you are sure of this, and you’re sure the parking space you’re eying up will fit your vehicle, turn on your signal (first) and then slow down.
- Stop beside the vehicle parked in front of the spot you plan to enter, leaving roughly one meter/yard separating your vehicle from the one parallel to you.
- Once you are stopped and in place, check your mirrors again to make sure traffic is still stopped. Now, begin backing up slowly, turning your wheel sharply toward the curb.
- Once your vehicle is about halfway into the space, turn your wheel back the opposite direction to align your vehicle with the curb. If you hit the curb at any time, simply put your car back in the forward gear, check your mirrors for traffic, and follow the path back out of the space. You will need to begin turning your wheel earlier to align your car with the sidewalk and avoid hitting the curb.
- Once you’re in the parking space, pull your vehicle forward or back to assure you are lined up with the vehicles in front and behind. You'll also want to check to make sure your vehicle is sitting parallel to the curb.
- To make sure you can safely exit the parking spot later, be sure you can see the license plate or hitch of the vehicle in front of you.
- Now, place your car rental in park. If you’re driving a manual transmission car rental, apply the parking brake.
Vans, SUVs, and Manual Transmissions
Parallel parking a van rental will undoubtedly have additional challenges, especially if you rent a van without side windows. To parallel park this type of vehicle, you will need to fully utilize your mirrors, and might benefit from having a co-pilot direct you in using those mirrors. SUV rentals are similar to cars in regards to their handling, however you will need to be aware of the additional length of the vehicle. When using a manual transmission vehicle, you will simply need to let off the clutch while in reverse and use the brake to help guide the speed of the vehicle. Be careful not to stall the vehicle, however as this could cause further delays for the traffic waiting behind you.