Why you should park in reverse and how to go about it

It’ll make your life easier
by Jason Tulio | Jun 9, 2019
PHOTO: Jason Tulio

Parking can present a challenge for many newbie drivers. Sure, it’s a lot slower compared to driving at 60kph on a stretch of road. But with the added pressures of tight spaces, other cars in close proximity, and the possibility of hitting one of said cars, it can cause someone with a fresh driver’s license to panic quite quickly. 

Fret not, for we here at Top Gear PH are here to help you out. While there are a few good reasons to park your car nose-first—if you need to access your car’s trunk later on, or if your car’s dimensions won’t allow for any other option, or if there’s a great big sign that tells you that you should really park facing the wall—we’ve written this guide out to explain why you should be parking in reverse, and a few tips as well to help you out. Yes, including the much-dreaded parallel parking technique. We hope you find this useful. 

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1) Believe it or not, it can actually be easier.

A common thing that detractors say about parking in reverse is that it’s a lot more difficult to maneuver your car when you have to look behind you. Yeah, okay, maybe it is easier to just drive straight into a parking slot. But what about when you don’t have much space to angle your car’s front end on the way in? Furthermore, you’ll just make it harder for yourself later on. On to the next point...

2) Parking in reverse presents fewer hazards and better visibility.

What? Better visibility in reverse? Hear me out. You see, when you park with your car facing inside, you naturally have to then reverse to get it out again. Only this time, you have to watch out for oncoming cars, pedestrians, shopping carts, and whatever else happens to get in your way. Now, compare that to backing into an empty slot, and you tell us which option is easier. 

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3) Getting out is much simpler.

And that brings us to the third and probably most attractive part about parking in reverse. When it’s time to leave, you just roll forward and be on your way. With the way cars’ physics work, there’s a lot less maneuvering needed compared to reversing out of the same slot. It’s a lot more versatile, too. Say you come back to your parking slot to find yourself tightly sandwiched between two massive SUVs who haven’t left much room on either side of you. If you parked in reverse, that really won’t make a difference (except now you might have to suck your stomach in to enter the driver’s seat). If you have to back out, though, good luck. 

Okay, so there are three good reasons why you should park in reverse. Question now is, how do you go about it? Read on. 

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How to park in reverse (non-parallel)

  1. Drive past the empty slot you wish to park into, maintaining about one foot of space between your car and the parked cars. 
  2. Slot into reverse geat, turn your wheel all the way to the right or left (depending on which way you’re going) and start reversing. Make sure to look behind you and check your rearview and side mirros along the way.
  3. Continue reversing until your car is straight relative to the parking slot. Straighten your wheels and continue reversing until you’ve parked in the slot.  
  4. Rely on your own eyes and ears when reversing. Parking sensors and cameras are great, and so are parking barriers, but your own instincts are still best.
  5. Switch between going forward and reverse to make any necessary adjustments.
  6. As you leave, make sure you have roughly the same amount of space on either side of your car. Parking too close to the line will make it difficult for the car next to you. 
  7. As you leave, make sure to look left and right as you roll forward. Check your side mirror as well on the side you are turning to avoid scraping the car next to you. 

You can use this handy video as a guide:

How to park in reverse (parallel)

  1. Drive past the empty slot you wish to park into. Align your side mirror with that of the car in front.
  2. Turn the steering wheel to the right for one full turn and start reversing.
  3. Continue reversing until the car’s plate number in front is aligned with the middle of your passenger-side window. If the other car is a bit longer, align towards the right of your window. If it’s smaller, adjust the alignment to the left. All the while, check your side mirror to ensure your rear right tire isn’t too close to the curb. 
  4. Once aligned, turn the steering wheel completely to the left and continue reversing until the car is straight. Once the car is completely inside the slot, alternate going forward and reverse to make any necessary adjustments.
  5. Make sure you check your driver’s side mirror for any oncoming cars or pedestrians before exiting the vehicle.
  6. Also make sure that you have ample room in front and behind you. This is so it’s easier for you and the other cars to exit later.
  7. When you’re ready to leave your parallel parking slot, reverse until you have enough room in front to maneuver. Check your side and rearview mirror for safety.
  8. Turn the wheel to the left, then continue forward to exit. Check your car’s front right quarter to ensure you don’t accidentally bump the car in front. 

So there you have it. Remember, parking is not a race. Don’t be afraid to take as much time as you need to get it right. Forget the other cars if they happen to get impatient. What’s more important anyway, the other cars honking their horns or the possibility of you hitting your own car and maybe another one because you felt pressured to move faster? With enough practice, you’ll be able to park going backward with confidence. Drive safe. 

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PHOTO: Jason Tulio
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