How to use your wing mirror to parallel park

Updated February 21, 2017

Parallel parking between two parked vehicles is often a daunting task for both beginners and experienced drivers. However, practice leads to confidence, and confidence leads to success. There are a number of ways to line up your car with the car in front of the targeted parking space, and many suggestions for finding markers to help you know when to do what. Using the wing mirror as a guide is a useful technique for aligning the automobile with its surroundings, and guiding it safely into a secure resting spot.

Find an available parking space. Select one that is close to 1.8 m (6 feet) or more longer than the car you are driving. Pull up parallel to the vehicle in front of the space until your right side mirror is parallel to the left side mirror of that car, and put your right blinker on to alert traffic that you are planning to park. You should be between 60 and 90 cm (2 and 3 feet) away from the parked car.

When your car is at about a 45-degree angle with the parked car, and your right wing mirror is centred on its rear left tyre, straighten out your wheels by turning the steering wheel one rotation to the left. Continue backing slowly past the car until your right wing mirror is parallel its rear end. This alignment will ensure that you do not hit the parked vehicle when you cut your wheels to the left.

Look into the wing mirror to determine if you are close enough to the curb. If you are not, continue backing until the mirror is closer to the centre of the back of the car (where the number plate is located.)

Turn the wheel all the way to the left and continue in reverse to pull the front of your car in behind the parked vehicle in front of you. Use your wing mirror and your rear view mirror to line up with the curb. If you feel you are too close to the vehicle behind you, pull forward slightly to centre your car in the parking space. Put it in park and engage the parking brake.


In the process of parallel parking, although you must proceed in reverse slowly, when you turn the steering wheel to cut your wheels into the space and straighten out, you should turn the wheel rapidly. Make sure not to park your car too close to the vehicle behind you, so that it becomes difficult for that car to get out of its space.


All cars and trucks are not the same size, so the suggested reference points on the parked cars may need to be slightly modified for larger or smaller vehicles.

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About the Author

Melanie Aves has more than 30 years writing experience. Aves coauthored four interior design color books, authored a book on Newport Beach, California, wrote newspaper features and currently writes monthly magazine features. She holds a Master of Arts degree, a certificate in interior design, and completed post-graduate studies in journalism.