How To Master Bay Parking

Last Updated: 10/05/2022

Parking your vehicle correctly in a bay is a manoeuvre that you may be asked to perform by the examiner.

Not all driving tests include this manoeuvre as it is usually only included where the test centre has parking bays available.

It is essential therefore that you learn how to do it properly in preparation for your practical driving test.

Many learner drivers have problems learning how to park in a bay, but if you constantly practise this manoeuvre, you will be able to park your vehicle in any parking bay confidently and successfully.

And that’s a key point here; it’s another one of those skills that will stand you in good stead once you have passed your test.

What You Will Learn

To help get you prepared for this manoeuvre, we have put together this useful guide which will give you the guidance you need so you can execute this manoeuvre with confidence.

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

The aim of the bay parking manoeuvre is to park your car in a bay within the lines and not too close to a vehicle next to you on both sides.

To do this, you will need to be able to demonstrate to the examiner that you are accurate in your parking by positioning your vehicle in the centre of the bay, not too far to the right or left.

You will then need to show that you are fully in control of your vehicle as you use your clutch control to steer the car into the bay.

Finally, observation is key to this manoeuvre as you keep checking all around your vehicle for any pedestrians or vehicles moving close to the parking bay.

The most important thing to remember about this manoeuvre is to make sure your vehicle is prepared for it.

Make sure you have checked your surroundings and proceed only when it is safe to do so.

The four stages below show how the manoeuvre can be completed successfully.

Stage 1: Positioning The Vehicle

  • Your vehicle should be in the centre of the road so that you have room to turn your car into the bay you have selected to park in.
  • Your vehicle should be halfway between the two lines of the bay.
  • This position will enable you to check all around your vehicle and will give you sufficient room to make the turn into the bay.
  • When you are satisfied that you are positioned in the centre of the road, stop your vehicle and apply the handbrake if you are on a slope.
  • Select reverse gear and don’t worry about other vehicles or pedestrians at this point as your reverse light illuminated will let them know that you intend to reverse your vehicle.
  • You will now need to reverse the car to the point of turn as shown in the image below.
  • The point of turn may be different for many vehicles, so you will need to determine what the turning point is for our own vehicle.
  • Before you reverse your vehicle, check all around to make sure that there are no other vehicles or pedestrians nearby.
  • When you are happy to proceed, you need to look out of your rear window as you will now be moving backwards.
  • Start to reverse your vehicle very, very slowly, checking all around you, until you find your turning point.
  • Select a parking bay.
  • Next, move your vehicle so that the middle of your front passenger door is lined up with the line.
  • This will guide you into the bay when you turn full left lock.
  • With a bit of luck the car park will be empty when the examiner asks you to perform this manoeuvre so you can choose whichever line you wish as your turning point, however, if the other bays have cars parked in them then you will need to decide which line to choose as your turning point to guide you into the bay you have selected.

Stage 2: Reaching The Turning Point

  • When your vehicle reaches the turning point, stop. It is not necessary to stop at this point but it will make it easier to perform the manoeuvre in stages.
  • You will also be able to keep checking for oncoming pedestrians or vehicles.
  • When you have stopped your vehicle at the turning point, apply the handbrake if you are on a slope to prevent the car from rolling.
  • You now need to steer quickly to full left lock. Before you do this though, you must look all around to make sure that it is clear to proceed.
  • As you begin to move, your vehicle will swing out and it is at this point that you need to look into your right blind spot.
  • When you are satisfied that all is clear, look out of your rear window while gently moving your vehicle backwards.
  • As soon as you start to move, steer full left lock.

Stage 3: Reversing Into The Parking Bay

  • Many learner drivers find this part of the manoeuvre to be the most problematic. The key is to make sure that you move your vehicle very slowly so that you can stop at any time when you need to check on your position.
  • As you reverse your vehicle, you must constantly check all around including the rear windows and the right blind spot.
  • Pedestrians sometimes walk close by, so you must stop the car until they have passed by.
  • As you slowly turn your vehicle into the parking bay, you should look for the turning point line selected.
  • When it appears, you will be able to see how close or far you are from this line by using the left side mirror.
  • As the vehicle moves towards the parking bay, keep checking the left side mirror as you will be able to establish how close or far you are from this line by using this mirror.
  • The closer the car heads towards the bay, you will see line (B) appear in the right mirror.

Stage 4: Lining Up Your Vehicle In The Parking Bay

  • As soon as you can see Lines (A) and (B) parallel with your vehicle in the side mirrors, straighten the wheel up.
  • If you think you might be slightly too far away from one of the lines, now you can adjust your position by steering towards the line.
  • A tip for not parking too far back in the bay is to line up your right mirror with the very end of line (B). When you are happy with your position in the parking bay, apply the handbrake and select neutral.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

Although most car parks are flat, you may encounter a slight slope or incline.

If you allow your vehicle to roll in the opposite direction to where you are heading, your examiner will class it as a loss of control.

Also, always make sure that your handbrake is on, and if you are on a slope, hold the clutch on bite point as this will secure your vehicle.

Finally, take your time, there’s no rush!

Useful Information

This manoeuvre requires concentration and slow movement to complete successfully.

The examiner will allow you approximately 4 minutes to complete the manoeuvre so you have got a bit of time to proceed slowly and surely.

You will park your vehicle much more accurately if you keep it moving slowly, and keep looking around.

Hopefully all will go to plan on the day of your test, however, if you think you could have completed the manoeuvre better, for example, if you think you could have centred your vehicle better, or if you hit a kerb (which usually results in a failure), it is worth asking the examiner if you could try the manoeuvre again.

Depending on how lenient the examiner is, he/she may well allow you to have a second go.

It is also worth keeping in mind that however perfect your bay parking technique may be, you will still fail the driving test if you don’t show the examiner that you are constantly looking out for approaching vehicles and pedestrians.

The golden rule for this manoeuvre is to constantly check at every stage of the manoeuvre and some more!

Final Thoughts

Many learner drivers fret over the mistaken belief that in order to meet the examiner’s assessment of this manoeuvre, your vehicle must be completely straight, centred and parallel with the bay lines.

This is a myth.

If you are in the bay lines and not completely straight, you will not fail.

Another mistaken belief is that the manoeuvre must be followed through in one attempt.

This also is not true.

The examiner will be perfectly happy if you adjust your reverse action by pulling forward and correcting it so keep this in mind when attempting this manoeuvre.

Further Resources