The Definitive Guide to Parking Lot Etiquette

For most car guys, parking in a crowded lot is one of life's biggest stressors. Car doors flying open, out of control shopping carts, reckless drivers. It's a mess. 

That's in no small part due to the fact that so many people are either unaware of, or completely disregard, even the most fundamental rules of parking lot etiquette. If you happen to be one of those people—or know of someone who is—consider this the Bible of polite parking. 

1. Do not leave your shopping cart untethered

Just because it’s not rolling right now doesn’t mean it won’t with the next gust of wind. And a shopping cart with a decent head of steam can do a remarkable amount of damage. Walk it to the shopping cart corral, or whatever it is you call it. At the very least, push the front wheels over a curb, so it doesn't go anywhere.

2. Do not park unevenly

Look, pulling into a parking spot at an awkward angle happens. When it does, straighten out, or the poor person who parks next to you will be petrified that you’ll hit them on your way out.

3. Do not block someone’s trunk or tailgate

If you’ve gone over the stripe by even a few inches, your hood might be impeding on someone else’s ability to load stuff into their car or truck.

4. Do not hide your car by pulling in too far

You know the feeling of driving through a full parking lot, and the relief of finally finding a spot, only to discover there’s a tiny car or motorcycle parked there right as you’re about to pull in. Stop early, so that drivers can see the rear of your vehicle.

5. Do park as far away from any other cars as you can

You’re reducing the odds that anyone will touch your car. The lone exception: if someone else’s car is in the most remote spots, it clearly belongs to a fellow enthusiast. They’ll likely trust you to park near them. Just not too close.

6. Do walk quickly if someone waves you by

When someone waves you past, they’re being polite more often than they’re following a requirement. Respect that nicety by getting out of the way in a reasonable time frame, rather than shuffling along your slow, merry way.

7. Do not park in an electric vehicle charging spot without an electric vehicle 

For the sake of this argument, pretend your car’s just about out of gas and someone with a full tank parked right in front of the only gas pump. Pretty inconsiderate, huh?

8. Do grab stray carts on your way in

You’re going to need one anyway, so you might as well clean up someone else’s mess at the same time. The car you save might be your own.

9. Do not toss gum on the ground

It sucks getting it out of shoes. It’s even worse getting it out of your car’s carpet.

10. Do not stalk someone for a parking spot

Sure, following someone from the door to their car seems like a great way to find a soon-to-be open spot, but it’s also pretty creepy and unnerving.

11. Do not touch someone else’s vehicle

Don’t put a box down on someone’s trunk while you open your car door. Don’t put a flyer on someone’s windshield. And do not write in the dirt of a filthy car. Okay, there's one exception to this rule, and it's putting one of these on an offender’s windshield.

12. Do not park across multiple spots

In almost every instance, there’s going to be at least one spot that’s off on the side, by a tree, that’s a little bit wider than the rest. Find it. Park there. Parking across multiple spots is begging to get keyed by someone who doesn't care about number 11 above.

13. Do not park too close to someone

If you park so close to someone that your door—or theirs—can’t easily open enough for a reasonably-sized human to get in or out, you’re not just being a dick, you’re contributing to the rising epidemic of door dings.

14. Do back out slowly

Even if you’re paying attention to your surroundings, there could be a car you don’t see coming down the aisle. If you hit them, you’re the asshole.

15. Do signal if you’re going to take a spot

If the lot's full and you have no choice but to park next to someone, put your signal on (even if you’re not waiting for someone to back out). It’s just a flick of your finger, and it alleviates a ton of confusion.

Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. There are few things in daily life he hates more than parking next to someone.

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