5 key steps to finding your car in a parking lot
Updated 17 Feb 2021
We have all been in situations where we have had to drive into uncharted territory and find somewhere to park our car. It could be to go to some big event, or to a new appointment or just to run an errand.
Whatever it may be, you’ll often find yourself concentrating on the time, on how much parking is going to cost, and on searching for that elusive parking spot.
After a few trips around the cavernous multi-storey you’ve found yourself in, a space opens up and in you slide. Success! With the parking done, your mind moves on to more pressing concerns. You check your watch. Time is short. Off you run.
It’s not until you attempt to return to your car when realisation hits. You have no idea where you parked!
The questions rattle around in your head: What level? From which way did I enter? Did I even park in this car park? Has someone stolen my car? Why would anyone steal a 1999 Commodore with nearly bald tyres? What the hell am I going to do now?
Don’t deny it. We’ve all been in this situation, and you do feel like a bit of a prat wandering about looking for your car like some small child lost in a department store searching for his mum.
The key to not falling into the ‘lost car’ trap is patience. On your way in, take a note of your surroundings before you park. Easy.
However, if that didn’t work and you find yourself in the above scenario, patience still works . . . it’s gonna take time.
How to find your car in a car park
- Did you notice any obvious signs or markers near your car? Was it near a ramp or ticket machine?
- Retrace your steps and visually rerun in your mind what turns you took when you entered the car park and how many levels you went up or down
- Use your key remote panic button (if you have one) and listen for the alarm. If you think you’re in the right vicinity, try using the remote to unlock and lock the car and watch for flashing indicators
- If you’ve completely lost the car, ask the parking attendant - you wouldn’t be the first to lose a car I’m sure, and they might be able to whizz you around the car park on a buggy
- Systematically walk every row by foot. After a good workout, you will be ecstatic once you find the car, and will probably never lose it again
How to avoid losing your car in a car park
- Park near an obvious marker, number or colour zone - something you won’t forget
- Park in a less crowded section of the car park, where it’s easier to see your vehicle
- Park near the entrance or exit or right in front of lifts, if there are any
- Take a photo of where you parked. Include parking bay numbers and the surrounding area
- Write down your location and take the info with you. Don’t leave it in the car
- Practice memory skills, verbally say where you are parked to yourself a number of times until it sinks in, then continue to mentally retrieve that info periodically as you run your errands
Use your phone
There wouldn't be many of us that go somewhere without a mobile. Use it. Take photos of where you park and even of the car park entrance. If you’re in a hurry, leave yourself a quick voice message to assist you later if needed.
You might have noticed that Google maps have a location marker called ‘set my parking location’ to pinpoint where you parked. Apple Maps has a ‘mark my location’ marker as well. You will probably find most map apps have this functionality.
The conclusion to take from the fact that big tech firms are making such applications is that there must be millions of poor souls out there who find themselves in the ‘lost car’ nightmare every day.
So, you are not alone. However, hopefully, after reading this, you will no longer be one of them.
Rachel spent her early adult life around cars, motorsport and hands-on with her own cars. This interest moved into various careers within the Automotive industry. Joined with her passion for writing, Rachel loves putting the two together to share her experience, so we can all become AutoGuru’s.