How to Find a Parked Car: 5 Steps to Help You Remember Where You Parked Your Car

Where is it? Image courtesy of

You never plan to forget where you parked your car, but it happens. And, more than once. In those moments of panic, you swear you're never going to let it happen again.

But, when you have chores to do and you're in a hurry, the last thing on your mind is making sure to remember where you parked your car. You find the first spot available, run off to do whatever you need to do, and then when you want to go back to your car, oops! Where is it?

Here are five steps that can help you find your car more easily the next time.

Step 1 - Prevention pt.1

With enough decoration, other people will use your car as a landmark. Image courtesy of María Helena Carey on Flickr

Like we said, you never plan to forget where you parked, but it happens. It's easy to say - prevent it. If you thought of that, you wouldn't have to worry about forgetting where your car is in the first place.

There are things you can do to make finding a parked car easier before you even set out to for the roads and malls. The first step, one you can do right now, is to make your car stand out. Many cars come in similar colors like white, silver, or black. There are lots of similar makes and models out on the streets, too. Finding your car in a mass of similar cars is definitely not a piece of cake.

You may be wondering, but how do I make it stand out? Paint it in some freakish color? You don't have to go that far.

Making your car stand out from the crowd is as simple as placing a stuffed toy or some kind of a flag on the back seat, or hanging something catchy on the rearview mirror, tying a colorful ribbon on the antenna or putting some bumper stickers on your car. As long as it's something that's personal and really stands out, you won't have to worry about not recognizing your car among many others.

Step 2 - Prevention pt.2

Left pillar, second row, next to the blue BRZ. Image courtesy of

There's another way to prevent memory slips when it comes to finding where you parked your car. Now that you've made your car different from all the similar makes, models and colors, you can start practicing this part of prevention.

Whenever you're looking for a parking spot, try to find one that is near some obvious landmark. It could be a lamp post, a shopping cart area, a tree, a fence or anything that stands out will work. Parking your car near one of these spots, and not only will this help you locate your car later on, but investing conscious effort in finding a spot like that one will help you remember where you parked more easily.

Some people suggest parking next to a motorcycle, and away from big trucks and SUVs because these can hide your car from you. You can try doing this, as well, but it's not as reliable as the previous trick. You never know if the person who parked the motorcycle will leave before you return. You may come back to find that an SUV is parked next to your car.

Parking near exits in a parking garage is another great trick you can use. Yes, it will require a bit more walking to where you're headed, but there are usually more free spots near exits, so you can pick one that is near a lamp, a colored pillar or something of the sort.

The last trick in prevention is to throw a glance to your car while you're leaving it. This will help you remember where it is even if you don't pay conscious attention to it. It allows you to see your car the way you would see it when you come back, not when you're leaving with your back turned to it. It's a simple tip, so start practicing it. By practicing this, it becomes automatic, and it can be a big help.

Step 3 - Calming down

Clear your mind and think about the clouds. Hurry up before it rains! Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Okay, you've done everything you could to prevent forgetting where you parked your car. Now you're out of the store, school or doctor's appointment, and you can't remember where it is. Panic hits, and you get upset.

Calm down.

Panicking and getting angry won't help you one bit. Calm down and let your brain work. Your brain is a great tool even if it forgot where your car is right now. It will help you find your car, but you have to let it function in order, not chaos.

Breathe deeply. Close your eyes if you think that will help. Let the calm overwhelm you.

Are you ready to move on?

Step 4 - Trying To Remember

Do you see my car from up there? Image courtesy of

Like I haven't tried that already!

Yes, you did, but how? Were you thinking frantically about where your car is? Were you angry because you forgot it again?

It's much easier to remember things when there's order. If you followed the steps so far, you're calm and ready to move on. Instead of trying to remember where your car is just by forcing your brain to remember, be systematic.

You know where you are and why you are there. Remember where you were before you got to where you are. Did you come there straight from home? Or you had something else to do before? Perhaps you went grocery shopping, and then you came to a coffee shop to see a friend.

What were you thinking about before you got here? Were you thinking about your grocery list, or other things you have to buy? Were you thinking about who you have to see, or what you have to do?

Now that you know these things, what did you see on your way from your car to where you are now? Maybe there were people in funny clothes, maybe you saw a bird somewhere, or maybe you saw a weird looking vehicle. There are countless things you could have seen, but you're the only one who knows what they were.

When you remember your state of mind after leaving your car, and things, people or animals you saw on your way, you can think of places where it happened. Maybe those people were near the shopping cart area. Or that bird was sitting on a lamp.

This is how you get the cues to help you find where you parked your car.

Step 5 - Retracing Your Steps

Another solution is to wait for everyone else to leave. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

You've got your cues, and now is the time to retrace your steps. Follow the cues you remembered, and look for your car.

If you did the first step of prevention, your car will stand out, and it'll be easier to spot it. No one knows your car better than you do. When you were leaving your car to enter the building, maybe you turned left, or right. Now, do the opposite. Retrace your steps until you know the approximate area where you parked.

When you know you're somewhere close to it, focus on specific cars. Look at all the cars on your left, look at all the cars on your right, then look at the cars in the neighboring rows. If you have a remote control for your car, don't be afraid to make your car signal you with lights or sound.

If you still can't find it, ask for help. Usually there are other people there, perhaps even employees of the place you were just visiting. Tell them what color, make and model your car is, and if there are any unique marks on it, like that stuffed toy you put in the back of your car.

Congratulations, you found your car!

Luckily, there are tons of apps to help you find your car, but when all else fails, it's good to know how to rely on yourself. These steps should help you find your car the next time you forget where you left it. You are more reliable than your smart phone, so don't be afraid to trust yourself.

Did you use any of these techniques so far? Do you have better ideas that could help others remember where they parked their car? Don't hesitate to share them with us.

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