1. Set it and forget it.
Why? Activating the brake will reduce the wear on your parking pawl, a metal pin that prevents your transmission’s output shaft from turning. When the parking pawl breaks, it’s often an expensive fix, so it’s in your best interest to avoid unnecessary wear.
2. Tennis balls are your garage’s best friend.
From now on, whenever you pull into the garage, you can simply aim for the hanging tennis ball. You’ll park perfectly every time, and you won’t risk any accidental bumps
3. Winter will be no biggie.
While you’re at it, make sure to keep some kitty litter in your car. By putting some of the litter around your tires, you can gain enough traction to make your way out of snow drifts. As an added hack, put some of the litter into a tube sock and throw it on your dashboard during those cold winter nights.
4. Use technology to park smarter.
You can also use smartphone apps to remember your parking spot. Apps like Google Maps can set the GPS coordinates of your vehicle when you park. With that said, if you’re in a big parking lot, you might be better off snapping a photo of nearby markers; while GPS is helpful, sometimes “Lot C, Row Blue 5” is more useful.
Oh, and while you’re parking in one of those big lots, try to avoid spots at the ends of aisles. That’s where a lot of other drivers will be turning, so the chances of an accident are significantly higher in those spots.
5. Yes, you can parallel park.
First, pull up close to the car in front, bringing your back bumper in line with the other vehicle’s back bumper. If you have trouble seeing the bumper, you can probably just bring your driver’s side window even with the other vehicle’s passenger window.
Now, turn your steering wheel all the way to the right (or left, depending on the spot). Slowly reverse until you can see the back vehicle’s license plate in your middle rearview mirror. Stop the car.
6. You can reverse into a spot, too.
In this case, it’s all about starting from the right place. To practice, go to a spot where there aren’t any other vehicles around. Pull parallel to the parking spot so that your rear bumper is barely in line with the space. Stop, turn your wheel all the way to the right (or left, depending on the spot), then start reversing, gradually evening out your wheel.
7. Finally, if you want to be happy, take the first parking spot you see.
“Something curious happens in parking lots,” Velkey said. “It seems that the people who actively look for the ‘best’ parking space inevitably spend more total time getting to the store than those people who simply grab the first spot they see. Two distinct strategies were observed: ‘cycling’ and ‘pick a row, closest space.’ The individuals cycling were spending more time driving looking for a parking space, yet on average they were no closer to the door, time-wise or distance-wise, than people using ‘pick a row, closest space.'”
Another study showed that people take longer to vacate their parking spots when they believe that someone is waiting for them to do so. Why? The theory is that people get territorial about their parking spots “even when such behavior is contrary to their goal of leaving.” And if you’ve ever parked in a parking garage on a regular basis, it’s not surprising news. People actually get into the habit of “hunting” for spots, and that’s probably not healthy.