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How to perpendicular park between two cars: a step-by-step guide

  • Airport Parking
  • Renee Martin
  • 6 minutes

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It’s the most common type of parking in garages, movie theaters, and other commercial places – but don’t take it for granted. Perpendicular parking may seem easier compared to parallel parking, but there are a ton of things that can go wrong when you’re handling the car. Here’s a step-by-step breakthrough of everything you may need to know about perpendicular parking.

Most drivers are mistaken in believing that perpendicular parking is easy as pie compared to parallel parking! With the rise in demand for off-site garages and public parking lots, perpendicular parking has become as competitive as ever. It can seem like fun and games when there are enough vacant spots – but things can get pretty tricky when you have to maneuver into a spot between two cars! Don’t stress out too much, though – here’s our simple guide to becoming an absolute pro at perpendicular parking

A car parked perpendicularly in a parknig lot

What is Perpendicular Parking?

Perpendicular parking requires cars to be parked side by side perpendicular to the aisle or curb, as opposed to parallel parking in which you are expected to park in line with the curb. It is a type of angled parking, commonly used whenever parking spaces are to be utilized efficiently. The vehicles are parked at a 90-degree angle to the curb and are usually driven straight head-on or reverse parked into a spot.

Where is perpendicular parking required?

This type of parking takes up less space than parallel parking – hence, it is usually found in public parking lots, private parking bays, parking decks, and commercial lots. Perpendicular parking prioritizes economy of motion and is usually in effect at locations with high demand. This includes malls, theaters, shopping complexes, supermarket parking lots, and more.

How big is a perpendicular parking spot?

There are no fixed dimensions for a perpendicular parking spot – it varies from state to state or city to city. However, most angled and perpendicular spaces are 10-18 feet long and 9-10 feet wide. The variation in length depends on the average length of cars in a state.
Cars parked perpendicularly in a garage

How to perpendicular park between two cars: step-by-step walkthrough

Depending on your driving skill, you can choose to perpendicular park in two ways – Head-on parking or Reverse parking. While Head-on parking is easier for beginners, it can cause problems when backing out of the spot when leaving. On the other hand, experienced drivers tend to reverse park and back into a spot when parking, so that they won’t have any issues while leaving.

Head-on or Straight-in Perpendicular parking

Step 1: Choose a good spot

Don’t drive into the first spot you see! It’s always good to slow down and check out all available spots before parking. Spaces in the corner of a lot or which are completely covered by cars on all sides will be significantly harder to park in than other spots. As a general rule, pick spaces on the your left that on your right side. This will give your vehicle more room to maneuver.

Step 2: Turning into the space

Turn on your indicators so the car behind you is clear of your intention to turn. Ideally, you should approach the spot at a 90-degree angle – avoid angling into the spot. Do not turn the steering wheel until your side mirror passes the center of the space BEFORE the one you’ve chosen. Use this as a reference to practice when exactly to turn.

Step 3: Adjust your position

Ensure your car has entered into the spot fully before adjusting the steering wheel back to the center position. Adjust your car’s position so that it is at a 90-degree angle to the curb and parallel to the other cars in the row.

Step 4: Check your mirrors

Use your mirrors to check if you are angled properly. Also, make sure that you leave enough space so that the driver of the parallel car can comfortably open his door and get in. You don’t want to park so close that getting in and out becomes a chore in itself! Take care that the back of your car is not jutting out of the spot.

reverse perpendicular parking

How to do reverse perpendicular parking

Step 1: Align your car

Drive ahead of the space you want to occupy until your back bumper is in line with the border of the space. Alternately, you can also align your side mirror with the border of the adjoining space.  Keep your indicators on and use hand signals to let other drivers know you are backing in.

Step 2: Check for vehicles and start backing in

Turn your steering wheel into the spot, put your car in reverse and start backing in slowly. Keep a close eye on the rearview mirror until your bumper is fully inside the space. Keep your foot on the brake pedal in case you want to re-align and try again.

Step 3: Aligning your vehicle

Straighten your wheels when you see that almost half of the car is inside the space. Continue backing until you reach the end of the space. At this point, the car may be misaligned either to the left or to the right, but that’s okay. Put your car in drive and go forward to align it properly and back in again.

Step 4: Check your mirrors and surroundings

Use both the right and left side mirrors to get your bearings and ensure the car is aligned straightly. Check the side spaces to see if both you and the next car have enough space to open doors comfortably.

Other perpendicular parking tips

  • Since it has a lot of sharp turns, it’s best to not rush into a perpendicular parking space. Ensure you slow down, use your indicators, and signal the cars behind you of your intentions to turn into the space. Many avoidable accidents have occurred simply because of haste!
  • It’s easier to park in a left-hand parking space than a right-hand parking spot. Usually, drivers approach a spot from the right side of the lane, giving you more space to align yourself into a left-hand parking spot.
  • Don’t turn too soon – that can complicate things even further! You may have to reverse and align yourself multiple times if this happens. Always use your side mirrors as rough reference points.

Want to know where to find the most convenient perpendicular parking spots? You can find premium parking at off-site garages in your city using the Way.com parking app. With paved surfaces, well-lit interiors, and spacious spots, you will get the smoothest parking experience ever! 

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Read more blogs on affordable airport parking, the best insurance for your car, and top-rated car washes near you.


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