Driver Knowledge Tests

How to avoid damage when parking and manoeuvring

Parking is one of those times when you can scrape or bump your car quite easily. Even if you don’t, sometimes you’ll return to your car and someone else has done it and left. Here are 18  rock-solid strategies for reducing the damage caused to your car when parking and while parked.

  1. When parking downhill parallel alongside the kerb, turn your wheels towards the kerb in case your handbrake fails. If the car rolls forwards the front left wheel will run into the kerb at low speed and stop it. When parking uphill, do the opposite.
  2. Pick the first or last park in a row of parallel parks if they’re available. This means you have more room to get out of your park. Park as far forwards in the front park and as far backwards in the back park as possible to give other drivers more room.
  3. Use reflections in a shop window to see how much room you have when reversing in a parallel park, or to avoid scraping your front bumper on a tall kerb in an angle park.
  4. Don’t leave valuables visible in your car – thieves will smash a window or break your lock to get at them.
  5. Park away from other vehicles, especially in multi-storey car parks where the parking spaces tend to be quite narrow.
  6. Don’t leave a dog in your car on a hot day – police will break a window to free it (plus, it’s cruel)
  7. If you park in a garage at home, hang something from the ceiling that touches your bonnet when you are far enough forwards.
  8. Do the most difficult manoeuvre in daylight if you are coming back to your car when it will be dark. This minimises your risk of having a minor scrape trying to do a complex manoeuvre in the dark.
  9. When parking in an unfamiliar driveway walk around your car when you return to remind yourself of the hazards.
  10. Avoid parking near the trolley bay in a supermarket car park – some people just push their trolley in the general direction of the trolley bay and it can easily deviate and hit your car.
  11. Don’t park where people will be squeezing past your car all the time. The worst places are beach entranceways where people will be bringing big chilly bins and sandy surfboards past your car.
  12. Be careful on windy days as the wind can catch your door, slamming it into the car next to you. The same applies for the other car!
  13. Avoid parking on a street where kids are out playing cricket or football. This can be quite common in quiet cul-de-sacs.
  14. Buy an aftermarket reversing camera or reversing sensors and extra convex mirrors if you want to improve your visibility around your car when reversing.
  15. Know the height of your vehicle if you drive a ute or SUV because some multi-storey car parks have quite low clearance.
  16. Set your mirrors correctly.
  17. Wind down your window when manoeuvring because you’ll hear other traffic more easily and you can look out of the window to judge your position.
  18. Take care parking on soft verges, particularly if your vehicle is heavy or has a high centre of gravity, as you may sink in and then there’s the risk of a rollover.

If you want to become an expert in low-speed manoeuvring try this low-speed manoeuvring online course.


Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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