There’s no greater feeling than hitting the open road for a drive, at least until you have to park. Try these helpful tips to save yourself a little time and a lot of frustration.
1. PARK FACING EAST IN THE WINTER.
Frost can be a huge problem on winter mornings. One small thing you can do to cut back on the amount of scraping you have to do before you head to work: Park facing east when you’re leaving your car outside. With this positioning, when the sun rises in the morning, its rays will be directly hitting your windshield. The extra heat will do at least some of the de-icing work for you.
2. HARNESS THE POWER OF KITTY LITTER...
The sun can help with ice, but it won’t defog your windshield. Fill a tube sock with (unused) kitty litter and place it on your dashboard right by the windshield. The kitty litter will absorb some of the excess moisture that would otherwise spend its morning fogging up your windshield. That litter will also come in handy if you find yourself stuck in the snow—sprinkle some under your tires for traction.
3. … AND A RAZOR BLADE.
Still having trouble seeing clearly or need to take care of residue or other messes that have landed on your windshield while you were parked? Carefully use a razor blade to scrape away tough or tacked-on messes.
4. BREAK OUT THE HAND SANITIZER.
In the winter, car locks and doors can freeze over, making it difficult to get back in your car. A little hand sanitizer will get things moving again. Rub some alcohol-based sanitizer on the lock as well as your key, then insert it.
5. PUT A TENNIS BALL IN YOUR GARAGE.
If you’re lucky enough to have garage parking, hang a tennis ball on a string from the ceiling to work as a parking guide. To start, park your car exactly where you want it in the garage. Next, get a ladder and position the stringed tennis ball so it falls right in the center of your windshield. Now you know exactly how far you can pull forward without hitting anything.
6. DO SOME RESEARCH.
If you’re planning to use a parking garage in a city, it pays to do some shopping around. Before you leave, look up all the nearby parking garages and find the one with the best deal. Print out the advertised pricing structure and bring it with you. When bargaining for the right price with parking lot attendants, they won’t be able to argue if you have it in writing.
7. PICK A QUIET STREET.
Big city parking garages come with even bigger price tags. If you want to trim your expenses, street parking is usually a more affordable alternative. Not surprisingly, you’ll want to focus your attention on quiet side streets. Your phone can come in handy here: If you’re driving around an unfamiliar place, there are a number of apps you can download to help you locate vacant spots and figure out whether or not they’re legal. Have your passengers use an app to direct you to the open real estate. Once you’re settled, don’t forget to read all nearby signs to avoid getting towed or ticketed.
8. DON’T BE AFRAID OF SLOPED SPOTS.
Parking on an incline can be tricky, but it pays to remember your old driver’s education class. If you’re parallel parking next to a curb on a road sloping upwards, turn your steering wheel away from the curb so that if anything goes wrong, your car will roll backwards towards the curb, and not into traffic. Parking downhill? Make sure your steering wheel is turned toward the curb. Finally, if you’re parking on a hill in either direction, but there’s no curb to be found, turn your wheel to the right to ensure your car rolls off the road should your parking brake fail.
9. GET HELP FROM THE DOORMAN.
For the right price, doormen can help you avoid tickets and street cleaners. Friends living in the city usually have a doorman who will be willing to move your car for a small tip.
10. KEEP A COLLECTION OF QUARTERS ON HAND.
Old pill bottles and certain candy containers are the perfect shape to hold a roll of quarters. Keep the whole thing in your glove compartment so you never have to search under seats just to park.
11. REMEMBER PARALLEL PARKING IS ALL ABOUT THE BUMPERS.
Still suffering from residual nervousness over the parallel parking on your driver’s license exam? You have nothing to fear. To parallel park, start by lining up about two feet from the car in front of the space you’re after. While stopped, cut your wheels all the way right. Back up until you can see the back car’s license plate in your side mirror. Once those are lined up, straighten your wheel and back up until the front of your car is past the back of the first car. Next, stop your car, cut your wheel, and finish parking.
12. REVERSE PARK FOR AN EASY EXIT.
If you know you’re going to be leaving a big event like a concert or sporting event at the same time as a lot of other drivers, you can take some steps to make your exit a little more straightforward. For starters, back into your spot. To begin, pull up two and half spots in front of the empty spot. After checking for pedestrians, begin slowly backing up and turning your wheel towards the spot. Keep turning until the lines of the parking spot are parallel in your side mirrors. Once they’re lined up, straighten your wheel and back in.
13. GET INTO A SPACE ON THE FIRST TRY.
If you’re parking in a standard parking lot, the process is pretty straightforward. But sometimes, you come into the space at the wrong angle, and need to back up and try again. Avoid wasting your time on a redo by turning extra wide into the spot. This means turning the opposite direction first before cutting the other direction between cars on either side of the space.
14. USE AN APP TO HELP FIND YOUR CAR...
If you find yourself often forgetting where exactly you parked, there’s no shame in calling in some outside help. There are a number of apps that help you locate your car once you park it. Most employ GPS to help you hone in on the exact location of your car in no time.
15. … OR YOU CAN JUST SNAP A PICTURE.
If you really, really have trouble finding where you parked your car, try taking pictures. Take a wide shot of your parked car and another of the street signs at the closest intersection. It’s almost impossible to lose your car when you have the cross streets right on your phone.