Parking direction

I have a 1999 Cavalier. It’s shown 216,699 on the odometer for a few years now, so I figure it’s got about 250,000. I put some miles on it.

I always park it backward (I back it into the parking space). I do this because of something I read in a book on fuel efficiency years ago. I regularly get 40 MPGs out of this car on the highway, beating EPA estimates in a quarter-million mile-old car.

The reason I park backward is because I want to start going forward in a single, smooth motion when the car is cold and least efficient and most prone to wear. When I get home, the car will be warm and then I can do the turning and backing maneuvers when wear is slow.

Even if I gain no automotive benefits from this, it’s easier to back into the space (in an apartment parking lot) because I can observe the surroundings while going backward, instead of backing out half-blind because of other parked cars.

Considering that any benefit from this is every day, and when the car is just started, I’m wondering if I might get an extra 10 miles out of the car’s life, or if it might make some marginally bigger difference.

Parking forward or reverse will not make a difference to your car. If back-in parking makes you happy, go for it.

Though if you listen to the driving safety instructors, they’ll often tell you to back in because backing out of a parking spot is a very likely time to run in to something.

I don’t know if it makes a difference in the life of a vehicle, but my company’s safety director insists that all vehicles back into parking spaces for safety reasons.

Too many accidents happen while backing out of parking spaces.

I have taken to backing in whenever possible, but I don’t expect it to extend the life of my vehicles.

Back many years ago, I parked cars for a lot.   We were instructed to always back into the spot.  Why is easy.  You control your car with the front wheels.  When pulling in or pulling out you are limiting how much control you have if you front in.  Also when you are pulling out if you when front in, you have to turn around to look for oncoming cars at the same time you have to watch the front of the car to make sure you don't hit the car next to you.  In the extreme you can't turn at all until the front of the car is past the back of the car next to you.

It takes a little practice, but it is faster and safer to back in.  

Just for fun take a toy car that has steerable front wheels and try it out.

I always back into parking spaces and into my garage for safety reasons. If someone’s little one or a pet is there when I pull out it’ll be much, much easier to see tham and not run over them. And if it’s a space that pulls out into traffic, the danger is even greater.

It may just prolong the life of my car by keeping it from getting smacked into by some fella with a heavy foot toolin’ through the parking lot too fast. I doubt if it prevents wear.

Interesting. Maybe they should legislate backing into parking spaces, and drop the push for back up cameras. I don’t see any net gain by not shifting from R to D when cold.

The problem is that if you back into the spot, you need to worry about who might be behind you and if you back out, you needy to worry about who might be in front of you. Unless you can pull through so you drive in and drive out, you have to back it one way or another.

I’ve never wondered about the fuel efficiency aspect of backing in.
– yet I do it consistantly because of all the other reasons stated by the other posters.

When visitors come to my house where I back in three trucks in my back yard, I insist they back in also. ( for safety and ease when pulling out into heavy traffic with a six foot fence blinder. )
“but that’s too hard.”

  • You back OUT don’t you?"
    “uh, yah.”
  • “then just back in !”

Engine is operating the same and at the same ratio. No differnce in efficiency. Baking in annoys me. If I’m behind someone looking for a spot and they pass it I assume they were not going to park. I start to pull in and next thing you know they are backing toward me and mad at me. If your going to back in don’t blow by spot and use a signal so people behind you have a clue. Oh and try to center it in space. I’m glad you can back in but if you are 3 inches from my car that’s not cool. :slight_smile:

I Always Back-In While Parking For Two Additional Reasons. For The Half Of The Year That My Windows Are Frosted Or Not Completely Cleared When I Start Out, I’m Going Forward And Can Use Defrosters, Wipers And Washers, And Headlights.

When I arrive at the next location where I’ll be backing in, my windows have had time to completely clear.

This works well on my 150 foot twisting driveway at home, too.

Also, in the rare event that one has a dead battery or other underhood problems, the “business end” of the car is more readily accessible.


As an active ‘backer’ myself, here’s what we all should do for the courtesy of other drivers.

Treat is just like a parellel parking space.

Stop momentarily just beside the space and signal. Then arc forward to back in to the afore mentioned space.

The safest way to park is to pull all the way through. This requires front to back spaces open, and a little more walking from the back of the parking lot. But exercise is a good thing.

I don’t believe you are getting 40 MPG from this car…ever. How do you calculate your fuel economy if your odometer doesn’t work?

I used to drive one of these cars, and a friend of mine still does. The best fuel economy I have ever seen from a Cavalier was 30 MPG, and that was all highway driving, using the cruise control, in warm weather, on flat terrain, with pure gasoline (no ethanol).

Personally, I prefer to back-in, but it doesn’t save any fuel. I just like being able to leave quickly. Unfortunately, we only have one license plate per car, on the back, here in Florida. In many places, it is against the rules to back-in and hide your license plate.

The proposed legislation you’re alluding to addresses a mandatory field of view rather than a backup camera. It is true that many designs today would need a camera to meet the requirement, but I think it’s an important distinction because there are also many cars today that DO meet the requirement.

I’m not sure how I feel about the mandate. My sense is that people who don;t bother to check before backing up still won’t bother, even if they have a camera.

The trip odometer does work; it’s only the main odometer that doesn’t. I reset the odometer before a long trip and divide miles by gallons consumed. I accelerate gently and maintain a speed of 60 MPH. It works for me, but I don’t know why there’d be such a disparity. I don’t know that the odometer is entirely accurate, but it does end up roughly where it should be when I get to my destination.

Thanks for the input. When I read that book, I did what it said and started getting much better mileage. That particular method seemed like it would be effective, but to an immeasurably small degree, but I did it anyway because the book overall helped me a lot.

I think it was Chilton’s More Miles per Dollar Guide. I also read Bob Sikorsky’s Drive it Forever. At least as important as the hints is the attitude of conservative driving, and those books taught me that attitude.

It seems a lot of people agree that the parking method is safer, which is certainly a potential life extender for a car, and for people.

I used to back my '92 Honda Civic in all the time. With the low ground clearance and the tendency for the people who lay out parking lots to use enormous concrete stopper blocks, I kept repeatedly hitting those blocks with my muffler, and eventually the B pipe creased and broke.

Put that down as a “point against” backing in.

Plus there’s the people who will ride right on your ass through a parking lot so you can’t back up into a space.

You’re Preaching To The Choir. I Always Park Way Out There. I Do It For Two Reasons. I Don’t Want My Car Dinged And I Enjoy The Excersise.

Parking is never a problem in my neck of the woods. There aren’t many people and not much traffic. I have 2 stop signs between here and downtown, twenty miles away.


Just came back from Hong Kong a week ago. Most of the vans(they are more popular than SUVs) have a wide angle mirror mounted at the top of the hatch on the outside. I think that is a much better idea than putting a screen on the dash. This forces the drivers to turn around and see where they are going instead of looking at what they are about to hit.