How to Parallel Park Perfectly, Every Damn Time

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are certain circles of hell devoted entirely to the mundane acts of adulthood, like mowing the lawn, smiling at one’s in-laws, and parallel parking. The latter is especially awful, because even if you know what you’re doing, chances are pretty high that the dude parking ahead of you has no clue.

There are infinite wrong ways to parallel park. And there is just one right way. To demonstrate, I dusted off some classics that are virtually ding-proof: Hot Wheels from the '80s. 

Send this to your friends, neighbors, and anyone else who thinks the word “parallel” is in some way vague. The bumpers you save could be your own.

Pick a spot that's definitely large enough

About five years ago, a mathematics professor in London used the Pythagorean theorem (that long-side-of-a-right-triangle formula you forgot you learned in middle school) to figure out exactly how much room you need to park. Frankly, you can just eyeball it, but if for some reason you're weirdly bad at that, read this.

Line up your front wheels with the rear wheels of the car ahead

You should also pull up fairly close beside that car, but not so close that some douchebag's gonna come running out of a coffee shop yelling that you've hit his baby.

Turn your wheels towards the curb

Not just a little bit. Not just a lot. Crank the steering wheel all the way.

Draw an imaginary line, and reverse into it

Draw an imaginary line in your head that connects the outside wheels of both cars. Pretend you see it, stationary on the pavement, as you toss your car in reverse and begin backing up. When your inside rear tire touches it, stop.

Straighten out, and keep backing up

If you don't straighten your steering wheel at this point, you’ll turn too far and back onto the sidewalk, where someone will take a photo of you and you’ll have to start over and it'll be a whole big mess. Straighten out, and keep going until your outside rear tire hits that line.

Crank your wheel towards the street and keep going

Turn your steering wheel the other way toward the street, so you can swing the front of the car nicely into position. Stop when you're parallel to the curb.

Center the car and be on your merry way

That's it. If you followed these directions correctly, you're now perfectly parked. If you didn't... well, that's why we have disclaimers like this:

"This information is intended solely for entertainment purposes and may not be used as a substitute for professional advice and/or information, as circumstances will vary from person to person. Do not attempt any of the suggested actions, solutions, remedies, or instructions found on this website without first consulting with a qualified professional. They are not intended to be nor do they constitute actionable professional advice."

Want more of the world's best Rides delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up for our daily email.

Aaron Miller is the cars editor for Thrillist, and can be found on Twitter. He doesn't trust other people enough to park his car on the street.