Tips on Parallel Parking

Since I was 6 years old, I have always lived on streets where folks must parallel park their vehicles.  My father was a truck driver and two brothers followed in that line of work.  So when it came time to learn to drive, believe me, I knew I had better learn to parallel park or suffer their wrath!

I got my permit the day I turned 16 and my license at 18.  I have owned 5 cars, all with a manual transmission, or as it’s known in the States, a stick shift.  One might assume that a stick is more difficult to park but it is not.  However, knowing your car, basic rules, and a little practice make it easy.

I actually learned to parallel park simply by riding in the cars of family members.  A long time friend often tells the story of a ride we took together in high school.  She came to town with her parents’ car.  When we went to park, she had no idea what to do.  So we changed places and I easily slid the car into the spot.  She still laughs about it because I didn’t even have a driver’s license yet.

Now, I live in a city of over 4 million people.  Parking is tight everywhere, although parking spaces are sometimes provided with housing.  But still, in such a huge city, I can’t believe that no one knows how to parallel park.  Here’s the vehicle of one woman who didn’t even attempt it.  She just drove nose in and stopped.

Nose First

These shots are all photos of what I woke up to this morning.  This man had wiggled his car into a spot which I feel had plenty of room.  But he couldn’t get it.  He was turning his wheel in the wrong direction and managed to get stuck between the sidewalk and the car in front of him.


He actually left it in this position.  He didn’t even bother to turn his wheels in or close his side-view mirror.  The worst part was there was a car double-parked across from him.  Next came a car barreling down the street and didn’t slow down as he approached the two cars.  Pretty scary, especially since the passenger was blindly opening her door into the traffic at the same time.

Long after the man left his vehicle unattended, the driver of the double-parked car finally realized that it was a good idea to at least move his fancy VW a few feet forward.


The absurdity of it all.  He was in fact triple-parked, having parked next to cars that were double-parked blocking our building’s parking garage.  And next to No Parking signs none-the-less! This is exactly why we don’t pay to have a space in our garage!


It gets worse as one heads down our street towards the hospital.  Valet Parking blocks the sidewalk with cars.  They have roped off a portion of the street so that  guests can pull in.  They manipulate all of the free spots on our street.  They also create parking by pulling the cars in nose first.  They double and triple park everywhere.  And not once have I ever seen them pull a car into their parking garage!

Valet Parking

Back in Philadelphia, these cars would all have been vandalized.  Granted, I can actually call myself a pro at this, needing no more than 6 extra inches to pull an SUV in nicely.  But in Philly, I would sometimes have to circle for 45 minutes to find a spot, and then push it in as if I went in sideways, never touching a bumper.

So here’s a few tips for those of you who need the help:

1- Always back into the spot unless it is really huge, more than 2 car lengths.

2- To back in, pull your car all the way up next to the car that will be parked in front of you.

3- Lower your side-view mirror so you can see the sidewalk!  I can’t emphasize this enough!  It makes the whole process so much easier.

4- Turn your steering wheel toward the curb to gently back in and then in the other direction to level it off, parallel to the sidewalk.  Reverse the wheel again to pull forward.  Rock it to and fro to get it just right (forward and backwards.)

Step 4 is the hardest.  You need to practice in order to get that car on just the right angle.  The side-view mirror helps.  It’s made more difficult if the car in front of you is hanging out too far from the sidewalk.  Use the car behind you as a guide.  Looking over your shoulder, point the middle of your car towards the middle of the car behind you.

So I leave you with two more tips:

1- If you don’t get it right the first time, pull out of the spot, all the way up next to the car in front of you, and try it again.  DO NOT pull part way out and attempt it.  You will get it done, but it will take much more time.

2- Don’t worry about the cars behind you.  By law, they have to wait – although they rarely do in Ankara.  And don’t worry about being embarrassed.  You likely don’t know the folks who may be watching, and they likely can’t parallel park either.

Here’s a great video on how to do it:

And finally, once you get the hang of it, please do not leave 5 feet in front of you and behind you.  If you live in a city, that is precious space!  All you need is a few inches!  And besides, you may irritate folks who may have the urge to let the air out of your tires or worse!

For more on driving in Turkey, click here.

36 thoughts on “Tips on Parallel Parking

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  1. I can’t drive – never needed to in London and never got round to learning. Liam learned late in life and is only licensed to drive an automatic. He doesn’t drive here. Driving in Turkey is not for the faint hearted, best only tried by the foolish or the suicidal!

    1. Calling me names are you?! LOL! Philly has a good bus system and a relatively good train service to the burbs, but the subway is terrible. It only goes in two directions. Driving in Ankara was just something that needed to be done for me. When in Rome, do as the Romans! My Turkish husband actually drives more like an American now. And I find myself way to aggressive when I drive back in the States.

  2. I’m sure you realise this already but I’m afraid us yabancis are the only people who care about this. No, actually, I think maybe we are the only people who even notice.

    The driving test has no checks for basic manoeuvres (took me a while to spell that), nor does the course have any lessons on parking or any other more complex task than ‘driving forwards’, so really it’s not even these poor peoples’ faults. Practice is free, however, so bad parkers are not entirely blameless.

    Changing these kind of habits is gonna take a looooooooooooooooooooooong time. Best to just grit our teeth. Even if my Turkish was good enough I don’t think I would yell at people for parking atrociously, since as far as I can tell the sentence “you are right, how foolish of me” or any variant thereof does not exist here 😉

    ps, did the blog layout change or are my eyes broken…

    1. Hi Tim, you are right that no one cares but us – and a few natives who have spent substantial time in other lands. I actually know a woman who gives driving lessons here. Never got the details on what she teaches. But I heard the test includes a lot of mechanical nonsense as opposed to how to drive. But you know me, although I gave a lesson, I don’t expect things to change. Perhaps some of my US friends may give it a try though! Not sure what you mean about the layout. I don’t think I have changed anything. But if you are having a problem viewing, please let me know the details. I appreciate it. I need to keep my readers reading!

  3. Extra Tip #1 is the silliest bit of advice I’ve ever heard – try and ‘re-do’ a bit of failed by starting over and the guy behind will be in the slot nose first like a shot! That is also the reason Turks park nose in – try any of that ‘Johnny Foreigner’ stuff and the prat behind will be in your slot like a rat up a drainpipe!

    1. Looks like you and Jack are conspiring against me today Alan! In a Turkish practical sense, you are right, but it goes farther than that. Trying to back in at any point can cause folks to try and slip in behind you. One is left with a stand-off that can last hours. But, in theory, and in practice in many other countries, it is the way to park!! If someone is with you, you could always have them stand out there, physically block the unwelcomed rat, and pray they don’t get hurt!

  4. Or perhaps you gentlemen need a visit from the oh so tough Philly girl. I’ll show you how it’s done. I don’t back down. I get my spaces. If I am having an off day, I back out and do it again – pushing the nosy prat behind me out of the way! And if I don’t like how they are parked, well, I go Turkish there and just flip up there wipers! Come see me, I’ll learn ya sometin!

  5. My better half agrees with you and gets reasonably annoyed by her countrymen’s habits… but as you mentioned earlier she has spent a fair bit of time back in the UK.
    However many of my Turkish friends are also dismayed by some of the driving habits… but say that to survive day to day they have to submit to a “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality..

  6. Good grief. I would not survive there 🙂 I have always liked a nice looking car no matter what the age. It’s just me, it’s the way I roll. If I come out and see scratches or dents on my car put there by somebody else’s vehicle, I immediately go into a “freak” mode and most likely the car that can be proven that did it will suffer dearly by my own hands. So I avoid squeezing into parking spots and elect to take a spot further away and make the walk.

    There was one time here in the states when I went to a mall with a brand new vehicle and I parked all the way down by main road with no cars in site of mine. I went into the mall picked up a few things and headed back to my car and lo and behold someone had parked their car right next to me and was so close that I could hardly get the passenger side door open. Upon inspection of my vehicle, I saw dents and scratches on my passenger door. I was like WTF!

    I need not tell you what happened to that vehicle. “freak” mode had set in.

    1. Artie, I could see you living in Turkey! You would buy yourself a gorgeous car with a big engine – even though you couldn’t afford $10/gallon for the gas or afford the yearly tax on that beautiful big engine! Then, you would have a private garage built. Park it in the garage, and sit there looking at it every day! You would never consider driving it here on these roads and with the crazy drivers! Might I suggest installing windows in the garage, perhaps air conditioning, a refrigerator, maybe a TV and DVD player?

      1. LMBO! You are too darn funny but knowing me your probably correct 😉 Sit in the car and garage and go zoom, zoom. OMG too funny. Love ya!

  7. I assume they just don’t care here, as people can’t even be bothered to park properly in an ordinary space. I, on the other hand, take pride in my parking jobs and can’t even bear to leave my car if it’s not straight (not sure what that says about me…don’t know if I want to know). In any case, I love parallel parking. It’s like a game to me…again, not sure what that says about me 🙂
    As far as the Turkish driving exam goes, I found it funny to learn that first aid is also on the test. Perhaps if the driving were more sane, the knowledge of making a tourniquet wouldn’t be as necessary!
    Also funny, my Turkish hubby couldn’t believe how orderly NYC traffic was…had to laugh considering it’s many American drivers’ nightmare. Again, I love it and feel like its like a game 🙂

    1. Hi Caroline and thanks for reading my blog! I agree with you completely. There is nothing I like more here in Ankara than parking my car in a tiny little space, especially if the neighborhood men are watching! It makes me so proud. The tourniquet story is a hoot. When I see how many cars break down in the summer months, I can understand why Turks are tested on mechanical issues. Yet, I have not seen anyone work on their own cars except for adding water. I have never seen anyone do something as simple as changing a tire themselves. (Although I am sure it’s done.) NYC – I hear you on that one!

  8. I loved this post,Terry! Driving and parking are soooo absolutely awful around here and seem to be getting worse all the time. You should hear me swear when I am in the driving seat!! But whoever said it above, I agree that we are the only ones who actually care about parking – personally I go ballistic when I see a car badly parked. Esp for example a car just casually left on a corner or double parked while owner nips in to buy a loaf or whatever … I can feel myself getting worked up as I write!!!!

    1. Speaking of pulling over to buy a loaf – why do so many pull over and double-park next to an open parking space? That’s when I really get irritated. I have to admit though, I have now been here long enough that I have become jealous of the diplomat tags. They can park anywhere except in front of the Prime Minister! I walked with a guy to his car after a class, not knowing he was a diplomat. I was surprised he drove bc there is no parking in that particular neighborhood. He had it parked smack in the middle of the sidewalk in front of a government building!

  9. So you think the only problem with us Turks driving is our inability to park? After contemplating several times in Ankara traffic to reverse–> speed up–>hit the douche bag in front of me, my comments on this would be borderline racist so I will just mention I have a pepper spray now. People drive here as if they must make up for all their shortcomings in traffic (low income, low IQ, all sorts of incompetencies and of course “the shortcomings”). tee heee… I feel better now. Feel free to remove this if its too insulting!

    1. LMBO Beyza! And you know better missy – I think there are lots of problems – but I would never put it out there like that! tee hee. You have completely hit on my theory of Turks driving. I think that sometimes people here feel so smothered by government, bureaucracy, economic and social levels, and such, that getting behind the wheel is the only place they feel free! (Although no one would ever admit to not feeling free here – it’s a big political issue.) Driving makes you a Big Man. It’s either that, or it makes up for small penis complex. (Perhaps I should delete my own coments!)

    1. Beautiful post Alan! Thanks to you and Jack! Simply hysterical.

      “Puff and relax.” In the States that translates to “Don’t get you panties in a bunch!” More appropriate, con’t you think?

  10. I read this post yesterday and refrained from writing a comment, because I can hardly control my thoughts on this subject! But one thing is for sure: there is no “parking” in Ankara. In English we would call it “abandoning”! The cars usually take up 2 precious spaces by going in diagonally or sitting bang in the middle of 2 spaces. I usually feel so angry that I would just love to rip the wipers right off, instead of politely putting them up!
    I drive every day and usually I’m all over Ankara and I find it really hard going. At home I would go for a drive to relax and for enjoyment. That would never happen here. It’s like a war out there!
    One of my pet hates is the parking space outside our appartment. We have a lot of companies in the same block. The workers are usually too lazy to park up the street, so they park you in. When I come out, usually in a hurry, with 2 5-year olds in tow and numerous bags, my heart sinks when I realize that I have to go in search of the car owner. Even although there is a list in the apartment, actually persuading them to get their butts into gear and move their car, takes for ever! By the time I’m able to get out of the space I am usually raging! Worse still, is when the kids have both fallen asleep after a long day in Kindergarten, and I have to drag them down the road screaming their heads off because I had to wake them. If I could have parked in front of my building, I would have carried them home one by one and saved myself the ear-splitting screams!
    I regularly drive down the Konya road. The antics of some drivers there are dangerous and outragous. Racing down on the inside lane, jumping in front so that you have to slam on your brakes, weaving in and out of traffic, no indicators (are there indicators on turkish cars?) and generally behaving like the road is yours and yours alone!
    So, with that my little rant is over. There is still lots more to rant about, but I suppose there is no real point to it. Like someone said above, it will take a looooooooooooooooong time for things to change here!
    Happy motoring everybody!!!

    1. Hi Michele and thanks for reading the blog! There’s not one thing you wrote that I can disagree with. Turks become completely different people when they get behind the wheel of a car. I try to take public transportation or walk when possible. Of course, taking a bus can be frightening! But it’s a completely different stories with two little ones in tow. And Konya and Eskisehir Roads are the worst. “Hey, let me push you out of the left lane, get in front of you, then slow down so I can cut over 4 lanes to the right at the last second to exit.” Good like to you!

  11. As many people who lives in Ankara, I need a certain professional to help me put up with the daily life here. He many times told me that trying to prove other people are wrong will, in many occasions, put me in danger. Apparently the pepper spray is not enough. Squirting pepper spray out your half down driver side window, without killing yourself, is a skill I yet to acquire. There are few tips to make things easier:
    1. Buy an orange cone from Koctas or Bauhaus and pour concrete in it. You can also add custom made iron roll bars to the cone so its easier to carry. 🙂 Ensure to always have it in front of your garage or behind your car to protect your right of way.
    2. Learn to use pepper spray without spraying yourself.
    3. Krishna or other similar mantras with praying beads: specifically the beads wrapped around the stick shift not only gives your car an authentic cool look but also establishes respect from dolmus and taxi drivers.
    3. Hand written note from a certain professional stating trying to prove others are wrong may put your safety in danger to be kept in the car visible from the driver seat.
    4. Roll bars and iron reinforced bumpers would be essential in combat situations. Also I am in the process of finding a shop that can install a gadget to hide my license plate with the press of a button.
    5. 155 on speed dial on your cell phone.
    6. Establish good relations with at least couple police officers in Ankara. Those you can call when you are in trouble. This is a task I am also working on it. I have couple valets that I am in excellent terms with. I can get away without paying every time and they will always find a safe place to park my car without disturbing the traffic.

    1. You never cease to make me smile, Beyza! All good advice. Although, I am leaning towards Alan’s advice, “puff and relax.” I may need to get the number of that “certain professional”! I have to add though, the cones in cement do not work in our neighborhood. We have big heavy metal signs with heavy cement bottoms. They just roll them aside and park anyway. I used to love to carry my camera and capture shots of cars parked next to no parking signs. I quickly lost interest as it left me with no time to do anything else!

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