One of the greatest fears afflicting the urban driver is parallel parking. The phrase “parallel parking” evokes visions of automobile claustrophobia, fender benders, and crippling anxiety for many drivers. Parallel parking is not as simple as pulling into the driveway, but it is an inevitable component of urban living and valuable driving skill. Let’s check the rearview mirror and back it in:
1. Size up the spot:
Parallel parking starts with finding a suitable spot for your car. The first thing you need to do is size the spot up – check if it is big enough for your car and, having determined that, try to imagine how you might want to approach it. Start by looking for spots that are about 1.5 times the length of your car; as your parallel parking skills improve, you could opt for a tighter spot. Also, make sure to check for unexpected obstacles like rocks, tree stumps, or open gutters. Tighter spots might require you to start reversing in at a steeper angle, while longer spots will give you more leeway to straighten your car. Accurately sizing the spot up only comes with practice and experience. You might get it wrong a few times and may need to manoeuvre the car in and out more than once, but remember, it’s simply a part of the learning process.
2. Approach and set up:
Once you’ve sized up the spot, you need to start planning your approach. It helps to imagine the spot with its front and rear obstacles from above – the bird’s eye view. Try to imagine how your car needs to turn in reverse to have its rear half as close and parallel to the curb as possible. Accordingly, you need to pull up beside the front obstacle to the point where you will commence your reversing. If your front obstacle is another car – this will usually be the case – you want the rear wheels of your car aligned more or less with the rearmost end of the car in front. Also, when you align your car so, make sure you have at least a one-arm distance between the length of your car and that of the car in front. These reference points will change slightly depending on factors like the length of your car and the size of the parking space, but they are helpful rules of thumb to keep in mind.
3. Back it in:
Now’s the time for action: once you’ve set your car up and decided on your approach, lock the steering wheel in the direction of the parking spot relative to your car (lock the wheel left if the parking spot is on your left and vice versa) and start backing in. You need to keep an eye on your proximity to other vehicles all around – front, back, and sides. The rearview mirrors, both inner and outer, are of paramount importance here. If you drive an MG Gloster, the 360-degree camera will make the task easy by displaying your car’s surroundings overlaid with parking guidelines. You need to reverse at full lock until about two-thirds of your car is backed in (the car should be at an approximately 45-degree angle to the curb), at which point of time you need to start straightening the wheels out while still reversing. The rear camera parking lines (available in all MG cars) will be of massive help here, allowing you to utilise the entirety of the space available between you and the car behind. Keep backing up while straightening until your car is parallel to the curb. You might need a few additional front and back manoeuvres in tighter spaces to get into that parallel position.
4. Secure your car:
Once parked, engage the handbrake or electronic parking brake and slot your car in park (if it’s an automatic) or a gear (if it’s a manual). Always secure your car after you’ve parked it, even if you’re parked on flat ground.
5. Practice, practice, practice:
Parallel parking is a bit of science married to a lot of art, and as such, is perfected more with practice than anything else. It can be intimidating in the early days, but MG cars are fitted with many helpful kits to help counter that. The Gloster has 360-degree cameras, a reverse parking camera, and front and rear parking sensors to ensure you have all the support and assistance to park in a tight spot without so much as feathering another car.