There’s a good reason many motorists are willing to shell out a premium—sometimes up to hundreds of hard-earned pesos a day—at a parking lot: In most occasions, it’s safer and simply more convenient than leaving your car by its lonesome on the side of a road.
That said, parking your ride within the confines of a privately operated garage or lot doesn’t mean you’re completely in the clear. You still need to keep an eye out for common hazards and boo-boos, as there’s only so much the parking management can do if a thief decides to make your vehicle his next target. Hey, there’s a reason most facilities explicitly state they’re not responsible for valuables left inside your car.
If not for safety, there are plenty of simple ways to improve upon your experience, too. Below are a few things you should turn into habits for a seamless time at any parking facility.
1) Keep your parking ticket on you.
Your parking ticket isn’t just a means for management to keep tabs on your vehicle and charge you accordingly for how long you’ve used the facility. It also serves as an extra security measure, as any unscrupulous individual—one who manages to break into and attempts to drive away with your ride—will need to present one if he hopes to make a clean getaway.
That, and a lot of facilities now require fees be paid before entering the premises or the parking garage.
2) Turn on your headlights upon entering.
Turn on your headlights even if the lighting inside a parking garage is just a smidge darker than the natural light outdoors. Your beams will serve to warn fellow motorists and pedestrians of your presence around corners. Remember: It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Of course, remember to switch off the headlights once you’ve parked and before exiting your vehicle, to avoid finding a car with a dead battery upon returning.
3) Keep tabs on parking rates.
This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re a regular at the facility you park your car in. But for unfamiliar garages, be sure to take note of the rates at the entrance—forgetting to do so could end up with you paying a small fortune for a couple of hours of parking time.
On that note, one workaround for exorbitant parking fees is to exit a facility and re-enter with your ride just before per-hour rates kick in. It’s a bit of a hassle, but it might be well worth it depending on the rates and how long you plan to stay.
4) Never leave your valuables inside.
Again, there’s a reason parking facilities explicitly state they will not be responsible for lost valuables. If you don’t need to bring that laptop, camera, or any other gadget for that matter to for a quick trip to the mall, just leave it at home.
At the very least, don’t leave expensive stuff lying in plain sight in the front seat. Put valuables inside the trunk if you have one, or place them on the floor and cover them with a jacket. Under the seat would be ideal, too, if the items can fit there.
5) Double-check your door locks.
We can’t stress enough that every motorist should make this a habit. Now, we’re not telling you to fiddle with every door handle before walking away from your ride (though it’s always better to be safe than sorry), but at the very least, check one of them to make sure that your key fob is functioning properly or if you’ve accidentally pressed the unlock button instead.
6) Take a photo of your parking slot.
Here’s a no-brainer for all the forgetful types out there: Once your car is parked, whip out your smartphone and take a quick photo of the slot before walking away. Otherwise, there’s a chance you could end up like this guy.
7) Familiarize yourself with the parking facility’s layout.
Speaking of getting lost inside a parking lot, the most surefire way to avoid it is to memorize every nook and cranny of the facility, especially if it’s one you often use. Take note of where entrances are and to what part of the establishment they lead to. Also, remember where emergency exits are located as you’ll never know when you’ll need them.
8) Keep a sun visor in the vehicle.
Not all facilities have a roof you can park under. In instances where you need to park your car outdoors, a sun visor will come in handy. Have you ever tried sitting on leather seats inside a car that’s been parked outdoors for half a day? It’s not a pleasant experience.
If you find yourself parking outside underneath the noon sun without a visor, you can try covering the seats and the steering wheel with a cloth to keep your thighs from sizzling to a crisp once you re-enter.
9) Keep change at the ready.
It’d be nice if everyone trying to exit a parking lot had their payment in hand before pulling up to the booth. Don’t be that guy—the one holding up the line as you look for spare change in every storage compartment possible. Try to leave a generous amount of P5 and P10 coins in the center console to help keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible.
10) Be courteous at all times.
We’re not just talking about parking in between the lines, folding your side mirrors, and leaving your contact information in the event you accidentally damage someone else’s ride. Be nice to the security guards and the booth operators, too. These people patrol scorching-hot parking lots and sit inside cramped booths all day to provide you with a little extra convenience, so every ‘thank you’ is definitely appreciated.
11) Patience is a virtue.
We know it’s tempting to counter-flow your way to that empty parking slot in the corner of the garage, but don’t. Not only is following facility rules part of basic decency, you’ll also be messing up the flow of traffic if you happen to run into an oncoming car.