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7 Tips on How to Park Your Car in a Public Parking Garage

Hi! I'm an MBA grad, an avid reader/writer/podcaster and journalist. Check out my tips on how to park safely in a public parking garage.

Park your car safely in a parking garage

Park your car safely in a parking garage

How to Park Your Car in a Public Parking Garage

My seven tips on how to park your car in a public parking garage will prevent your car from being dinged and scratched or even worse -- wrecked. You can use these seven tips whether you are parking in a mall, at an apartment building, or any parking facility where there are parking spaces that may have wide beams, blind corners, and narrow parking spaces.

My seven tips will also help those of you who are tourists visiting such places as Dubrovnik, Croatia where public garage parking is encouraged due to sometimes congested streets. Note: During this era of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel to some areas and locations is being restricted. Once travel restrictions are eased, you may follow these steps should you visit places such as the aforementioned Dubrovnik, Croatia.

1. Think "Safety First" When You Drive Into a Parking Garage

Before you become flustered, worrying that you may not be able to find a "good" parking space in a crowded parking garage, think "safety first." Of course, you want to find the ideal parking space, but more importantly you want to be safe.

Be careful as you drive around the parking garage, being alert that at any moment a car may back out of a parking space unexpectedly. Drive at a safe speed and be ready to honk your horn loudly and brake should you see a car in your path. Hopefully the person leaving the parking space will be extra cautious and be on the alert for other cars as he or she prepares to back out of or leave a parking space.

Also be careful as you drive around blind corners in the parking garage as you may not be able to see if another car is coming in your direction. The approaching car should be a safe distance away from yours when you make the turn, but be cognizant that some drivers do not adhere to the markings in garages. Their car could be straddling their lanes, especially if there are no solid lines they can use as a guide. Remember to drive slow, keep a watchful eye for others and do not be in a rush to find a parking space. As the saying goes, "Patience is a virtue."

Once you park your car, preferably in a lighted area, be aware of your surroundings and do not leave packages or even miscellaneous items in clear view in your car. Place them out of sight in the trunk of your car, or slide them beneath the seat if there is no room in the trunk. The main focus here is to avoid having anything visible that may attract attention and unfortunately, a break into your vehicle or a robbery.

Patience is a virture.

— William Langland

2. See Clearly When You Park in Parking Garages

If you have prescription glasses, wear them so you can see the directional and other signs in the parking garage. You also need to be alert for pedestrians in the parking garage who may inadvertently walk in the path of your car.

In regards to wearing sunglasses, I suggest you remove them while driving your car in a parking garage. The sunglasses serve no purpose while in a garage, and may blur your perception of how close your car is to the walls and beams of the garage.

The exception to wearing sunglasses while in a parking garage is if you are driving in one that has a top level with no covering. In this case, if it is a sunny day, it's possible that wearing sunglasses may diminish the sun's glare, enabling you to see your surroundings better. If this is not the case, I do not advise you to wear sunglasses while parking in a parking garage.

3. Be Aware of Beams in Parking Garages

Many parking garages have large beams situated throughout. These beams may be square, round or cylinder in shape. Regardless of the type beams prevalent in parking garages, you must be careful when you drive around them.

When making turns, be sure you leave enough room between the side of your car and the wall or beam to make the turn without scraping your car. You may notice marks on the parking beams and walls where people have unfortunately scraped their cars while either making a turn or just parking in a parking space. Don't follow their example. Use due diligent to make sure there is ample room near the wall, beam or another car before you park your car to ensure your car does not get dinged, scratched or damaged.

Be careful when you park near beams in  parking garages.

Be careful when you park near beams in parking garages.

4. Choose the Best Parking Space in Parking Garages

The best parking space in a public parking garage is space next to a wall where there is only one parking space next to yours. However, sometimes if the garage is crowded, you do not have a choice of where to park. In this instance, carefully park your car in the space available so as not to damage yours or someone elses vehicle.

Follow these steps to choose a good parking space and to park your car safely:

  • Leave an empty parking space between your car and another car. Of course, depending on how crowded the parking area is, you may not have the luxury of making this choice. If not, you must carefully park beside another car. Remember, when that person returns and sees your car parked close beside his or her vehicle, the first thing he or she will probably do is examine his or her car doors and fenders to make sure you have not already dented the car. If the car you are parking next to already has dents, the other driver may not be as concerned about how close you park to his or her car. Just be extra careful when you park next to another car, regardless of its physical condition.
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  • With the above being said, choose the best car to park next to if you can. For instance, if you see two parked cars, one that is dinged and one that looks relatively new with no dings, which car would you park next to? More than likely you would park beside the newer car that has no dings. Just like you, the driver of the car without scratches may be concerned with not getting his or her car damaged and is careful opening car doors when entering or exiting their car. The person driving the dinged car may not be as cautious.
  • Be careful when parking next to a car that has already been dinged or scratched. The advantage of parking beside a car that is already dented is the driver would probably care less how close you park to his or her car or the possibility the car may be accidently dinged. However, he or she also may not care if they dent or scrape your car. So if you can, make all efforts not to park beside a car that is already dented or damaged.
  • Find a desirable parking space which may or may not be located in the public parking garage. Check outside the garage, around the buildings, around the parking garage itself until you find a better parking space -- especially if the public garage space is already full. That being said, always initially look for a space inside the parking garage. A plus is that in parking garages, cars are arriving and leaving parking spaces sometimes constantly. Therefore, if you drive around and recheck for a good parking space, one may become available after a short time.

5. Park Your Car Near a Wall in a Parking Garage

Park your car where there are less chances your car will get dinged or scratched, such as beside a wall in the parking garage. If you prefer to back into a parking space with the passenger side against the wall, your driver's side is at risk of being dinged. To avoid this happening, park as close to the wall as possible without touching it, leaving plenty of space between your car and any car that may park or already be parked next to yours.

What I do sometimes in tight parking spaces is park as close to the wall as I can with the drivers side next to the wall. I then scoot over to the passenger side to get out of the car -- since there is no room on the driver's side to exit the car. By parking close to the wall, there is a lot of room on your passenger side for the other car to park without the possibility of denting your car. This can be done of course, if there is no one already riding with you as a passenger.

Another option is to back into the parking space so the passenger door is close against the wall and you can exit from the driver's side. This way you are leaving extra space to allow other cars to park next to your car with less chance of dinging or scratching it. Again, this can be done if you are driving alone without passengers.

Avoid parking too close to other cars.

Avoid parking too close to other cars.

6. Gauge How far the Car's Door Beside Yours Will Open Before Parking

Before you park your car, take a look at the distance the other car's door can open and determine if there is enough room for the car door to be opened without hitting yours. Do this visual check before and even after parking your car. If the other car's door can possibly open wide and hit your car, do not park in that parking space.

Do not assume the other driver will take precautions when getting in or out of their car and not hit or scratch yours. The other driver may be in a hurry, be carrying items, etc. and unintentionally dent or scratch your car. Accidents can and will happen, so it's best to avoid parking too close to another car in the first place.

Some Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have large doors with a wide circumference, so avoid parking beside them, if possible, unless there is enough space for them to enter or exit without hitting your car. Cars tend to have a shorter door radius, so if you are driving a car, it's best to park beside another car than to park next to an SUV or a truck. Additionally, when you park beside an SUV, your view is obstructed so from your parked position you can't tell when another car is approaching when leaving the parking space.

If you are parking an SUV or truck, you should be considerate and not park your vehicle close to either another car or even an SUV that would cause the person to make special maneuvers to enter or exit their car in order to prevent their car door from hitting yours. Remember that some two-door sports cars have doors that open more wider than other type cars so be careful parking beside them as well.

7. Park Between the Solid Lines

Last but not least, do not park over the solid parking space lines. Also do not take up two parking spaces with your car. I've seen cars parked over the line, which may have been done intentionally, or accidentally. The end result is no one will park beside their car, but they may get a nasty note left on their windshield when they return or even worse -- they may return to a keyed car. To make sure your car do not get keyed or scratched by an angry driver, always park your car between the solid lines.

Parking Garage of the Future is Here Now


Courtlney Davis (author) on December 14, 2011:


Thanks for your comment!


skymaster on December 14, 2011:


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