Parking Industry · July 18, 2022

What is Park Assist? How Does It Work

Park Assist is an automated parking assist system that helps drivers park with greater precision using guidance system technology that is superior to ultrasonic and other camera-based solutions. This article will explain how parking assist systems work and what they can (and cannot) do.

What is Park Assist? 

Park assist refers to an automated parking assist system that utilizes radar technology, cameras, and sensors, and is referred to as an alternative term such as Active Park Assist. It allows the car to do most of the work on its own while parked in a parking lot or curbside.

While earlier versions of Park Assist were specifically designed to assist parallel parking, virtually all current systems are capable of handling parallel and Bay Park operations.

How Park Assist Works

How Park Assist Works

The operation of Park Assist will vary from car to car, but it’s usually a fairly standard procedure.

When you’re in a parking lot or on the street where you want to park, there’s a button on the car that activates the system. As you drive, the sensors will start scanning a large enough space. See the owner’s manual for a description of how the system works.

It beeps to you once it finds the right slot, and usually has a display showing you what to do next.

The car will then guide you into the parking space. Some will also do the throttle and brakes for you, but it depends on the model. In either case, the dashboard shows instructions on what inputs you need to make.

Types of Park Assist

Park Assist

Steering Assist Parking

This is the most common type of parking assist system. You activate Park Assist, and once a position is selected, the car will display messages telling you when to accelerate, brake, and switch between forward and reverse gears.

Steering is fully automatic, so when the car drives into space, the steering wheel turns automatically. To avoid overriding the system, it is best to keep your hands on your lap while the system is running.

  • Parking and Exit Assistance

Park assist is increasingly capable of driving the car out of parallel spaces and into parallel spaces, which can be useful if you come back to the car and find yourself sandwiched between two other cars.

Like the standard system, the car controls the steering and tells you when to accelerate or a brake. This also reduces fatigue as it steers the car from left to right as it moves out of the space.

  • Fully automatic parking

This requires further driver confidence. Your car doesn’t just steer: it accelerates and brakes for you.

There are some safeguards: mainly the requirement to keep the button pressed throughout the maneuver. As soon as you remove your finger, the car comes to a complete stop. This setup is also usually only available on cars with automatic transmissions and battery-electric mode, which don’t require manual shifting.

  • Remote control parking

Neighbors are sure to be impressed to see a car pull into a garage alone with no one inside. The system is operated by a digital key fob or a smartphone app. Once everyone is out of the car, the driver can activate the system and watch the car slowly move into its space.

The car can also drive out on its own, which is especially handy for tight garages and tight parking lots where there is little room for doors.

The driver has to keep pressing the button on the key fob or smartphone or the car will stop immediately. Vehicles also need to queue in order to drive roughly in a straight line or reverse.

What Does Park Assist Off Mean?

If there is a problem using the Park Assist feature, the message “Parking Assist Off” may appear on one of the car’s information displays, confirming that the feature has been disabled.

Assuming the problem is temporary, the alert message will go away once Park Assist can resume work.

What Cars Have Park Assist?

Parking assist systems are already widely available in family cars, and hatchbacks from companies like Ford and Kia have helped launch the aid to mainstream car buyers.

Today, the vast majority of family hatchbacks, crossovers, and SUVs in the new car market come with park assist, although it’s rarely a standard feature. If you’re interested in buying a new family or luxury vehicle and wish to include park assist, then you may want to purchase an option package that includes it or a premium trim in your car’s line of choice.


Park Assist was one of the first self-driving technologies to appear in cars, about a decade ago, and is now available in most new cars. No longer the preserve of luxury cars, even the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208 can park themselves.

Read More: Audi Parking Assistance