The Uphill Battle…How to Parallel Park a Car on a Hill

parallel parking

San Francisco is best known for its breezy climate, eclectic cityscape, and its steep rolling hills. In fact, with more than fifty hills within city limits, you wonder why parked cars don’t roll back, one after the other, like tumbling dominoes.

Maneuvering a car around this winding, picturesque city may require a degree of adeptness – parking on one of its infamous hills may challenge your driving skills ad infinitum. The next time you’re in town and find yourself needing to park on an incline, use the following tips to help gravity work for (and not against) you:

•    Bracing your car uphill. If you’re parallel parking on an uphill incline, make sure to turn your steering wheel sharply AWAY from the curb. Then let your car slowly roll backwards until the rear part of the front wheel rests against the curb. A rule of thumb: leaving a full car length of space behind your car is the best method for backing into a curb.

•    Bracing your car downhill. When you’re parking your car facing downhill, turn your steering wheel sharply TOWARD the curb. Move your vehicle slowly until your front tire rests against the curb. Leave a full car length of space in front of you for the best downhill parking positioning.

•    Brake, neutralize, and turn. The safest way to parallel park is to press your foot on the brake, put the car in neutral, and turn your wheel according to your incline (again, away from the curb if uphill and toward the curb if downhill). In both cases, remember to apply the emergency brake after you put the car in park.

•    Keep up-to-date on brake maintenance. When getting your vehicle serviced, never leave without getting your brakes checked as well. Consistently upkeeping your car’s brake maintenance ensures a fully functional emergency brake, which in turn, will fail-proof your car from the steepest of hills.

•    No curb, no problem. If you’re parallel parking on a curbless street, just simply turn your steering wheel to the side of the road, regardless of the direction of the incline. Should your emergency brake fail, your car will more likely roll away from the street—and the chances of accidents will decrease in the process.

•    When in doubt, have a back up plan. If you are uneasy about your car’s ability to stay parked on a hill, tote along a set of “wheel chocks” – pieces of wood, metal, or rubber that is designed to be wedged underneath your tires to keep your car in place. Wheel chocks are definitely wallet-friendly and can be found at virtually any auto parts retailer.

Whether you’re a Bay Area native or vacationing tourist, make sure to implement these “hillside” parking tips for an overall safe and enjoyable driving experience!