How to Navigate a Parking Garage Fearlessly for the First Time

How to Navigate a Parking Garage Fearlessly for the First Time

Parking garages are commonly used in most major cities to increase the number of available parking spaces. Parking garages can be found in a variety of designs, each requiring drivers to maneuver their vehicles through turns and obstacles. Parking your car in a parking garage for the first time can be a disorienting experience. The following steps will help prepare you for your first experience in a multi-story parking garage.

9 Steps to Confident Garage Parking

  1. 1

    Locate the entrance of the parking garage in which you wish to store your vehicle. Most parking garages have clearly signed entrances and exits.

    parking entrance
    Parking garage entrance with an automated barricade
  2. 2

    Parking garages often require you to pay a fee or pick-up a ticket before you enter. As you slowly drive into the entrance of the parking garage, look for a ticket booth or parking attendant. Make sure that you carefully steer your car through the entrance equipment. Make a payment or pick up your ticket.

    parking machine
    A man getting a ticket to pay later at the exit

  3. 3

    Entrance to parking garages are usually controlled by an automated barricade. After you have made a payment or retrieved a ticket, the automated barricade should open. Wait until the arm is in the upright position before driving your car into the parking garage. Do no stall underneath the automated barricade.

  4. 4

    Be aware that parking garages often have very low clearance. You should notice a sign that indicates the height of the parking garage’s clearance before you enter. If you drive an especially tall or large vehicle, you should practice good judgment before entering the parking garage.

    Drive through the parking garage slowly and with caution. Watch for hazards such as confused pedestrians looking for their vehicles, drivers backing out of parking spaces without noticing you approaching, and vehicles emerging from behind a corner of the parking garage. In dim light, switch on your low-beam headlights to make your vehicle more visible to others.

  5. 5

    In some cases, you may be assigned a particular area of the parking garage in which to park. If not, begin searching for an empty parking space.

  6. 6

    There are many different parking garage designs. Some feature circular lanes that allow drivers to move up and down between different levels. Others employ a system of ramps for traffic within the garage. Pay attention to the flow of traffic within the parking garage. You may be able to turn in only one direction as you move up or down the levels. Typically, parking garages are clearly labeled. Pay attention to all signs as you search for an open space.

    marked parking garage
    Arrows and a dashed white line are used here to indicate traffic flow

  7. 7

    When you find an acceptable parking space, remember that visibility is much lower in a parking garage than a parking lot. Check for oncoming or approaching traffic then quickly park your vehicle. Once you find a spot, you might need to maneuver into tight spaces. To master this skill, check out our guide on How to Parallel Park.

  8. 8

    Parking garages can be quite confusing. Make sure you don’t lose your vehicle in this maze of cars. Note the letter, number, or color of the parking space and the level of the parking garage where your vehicle is parked. Take photos of the location with your cell phone or write down the information and keep the note with you. Most parking garages are color coded and alphabetized to make it easy for drivers to note where their vehicles are parked.

    color coded garage
    Remember your color and the letter or number assigned and you’ll find your car in no time

  9. 9

    Parking garages are notoriously dangerous. Do not leave any valuables in your vehicle when it is parked in a parking garage. Make sure that you are aware of your surroundings as you walk to and from your vehicle.

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