What is park assist?

Look like a driving whizz without even touching the wheel: the cars that park themselves

BuyaCar team
Sep 22, 2016

Parking might be one of the toughest tasks on your driving test, but it'll be a breeze for driverless cars. That's why self-parking systems are fitted to modern cars, including the Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208.

Park assist uses parking sensors fitted to the front, back and side of the car. To engage the system, you press the park assist button (below) and - depending on the complexity of the system - tell the car whether you want to park in a parallel space or a parking bay.

The sensors will then start looking for a space that's big enough for the car and alert you when they find one. You then stop, put the car in reverse and let go of the wheel.

The car tells you when to accelerate and it controls the steering inputs, sending the wheel spinning left and right all by itself. It may ask you to stop and put it into first gear so that it can adjust the position until- in theory - you're perfectly parked.

Modern systems usually work well but can sometimes threaten to scrape wheels against the kerbs, or park in the middle of two bays. That's one reason why you remain in control of the accelerator and brake.

A new generation of self-parking is now being offered on a handful of cars from BMW and Mercedes. You control it from your car's keyfob, so you can get out of your car, and get it to reverse into a tight space.

Beware of parking in a narrow gap between two cars: you might come back to some angry owners complaining that they can't open their doors.

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