How to learn to feel the dimensions of the car

Feeling the dimensions of your car is a guarantee of accident-free driving.

Having obtained the driver’s license and bought a car, you should drive on not very busy highways for a while and practice parking in places where it is possible to do this action as easy as possible. It should be done not only because your driving experience is too little, but also because you need to get used to your new iron friend and feel the size of the car. At this stage, many people wonder – how to feel the dimensions of the car, if I – a beginner. It is the feeling of dimensions allows you to make any maneuvers without violating their own and others’ safety.

How to learn to feel the dimensions of the car


The concept of dimensions usually refers to the height, length and width of the car. But the car is not only in a static position, it has and dynamic dimensions. Those who have studied carefully in a driving school know that there are six basic dimensions:

  • A straight line that continues the wheels – left and right.
  • The line of continuation of the front bumper.
  • The rear bumper.
  • Front axle.
  • Rear axle.

These parameters are absolutely different for different brands and it is necessary to get used to them not only for beginners, but also for quite experienced drivers. It is possible to feel them well only after some time – it is the experience of trips exactly on the given car. Only having felt your car, the driver can easily integrate into a dense stream of cars or park in a very small and inconvenient place. The same feeling allows to bypass a bump in the road or to move on a cross-country terrain. Determining a novice behind the wheel is quite easy, many of them try to stretch their neck while driving and try to look at the road in front of the bumper. Such drivers often see various minor damages to the bumper, front and rear, or headlights. All of these are, more often than not, the result of unfortunate parking. You can try to avoid this, because even minor repairs often cost a very tidy sum.

To feel the dimensions of a car

Developing a sense of dimensions

A good driver’s feeling of the car happens automatically, as if subconsciously, and any beginner’s goal is to reach exactly such level. The answer to the question of how to get used to dimensions for a beginner is unambiguous – you should not be lazy and do self-training. Experienced motorists and driving instructors talk about several groups of possible complexes:

  • Passing a complex of individual, you can self-prepare, using improvised or stationary means.
  • Individual preparation work with the vehicle.
  • Passing training using assistive electronic devices.

Individual vehicle preparation

How comfortably, and most importantly, correctly the driver sits at the wheel will determine the adequacy of driving. A good driving position reduces unnecessary movements and speeds up the decision-making process. This is achieved by ensuring that the driver has the correct arm and leg position and also a sufficient view, without unnecessary bending and glancing. In order to achieve an optimum seating position, the driver needs a special adjustment. Adjusting the driver’s seat and steering wheel

  • Sit on the driver’s seat and adjust it just for you. Ideally, you should fully depress the clutch and move the seat forward or backward so that it is comfortable and there is no desire to stretch. Adjust the backrest so that you don’t have to move your whole body when working with legs.
  • Do the same with the steering wheel – your palm should fit between the rim of the steering wheel and your knees, and at the same time your other hand should be extended over the steering wheel and touch its top point with your wrist.
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This will allow you to feel most comfortable while riding and not be distracted by stiff arms, legs or back. If you feel discomfort after a short ride, try making the change again.

Adjusting the driver's seat

Adjusting your rearview mirrors

Beginners quite often underestimate the importance of mirrors and try to perform parking or other maneuvers almost at random. They risk damaging their own or someone else’s car. It’s not difficult to adjust your mirrors.

  • In the rearview mirror, the driver should be able to see the entire rear window.
  • While driving, the rear view mirrors should show the rear fenders at door handle level and the road. If parking is a problem, you can change the position of the side mirrors just before parking or install overlays on the blind spots.

Adjusting the rear-view mirrors

Exercises to bring the feel of the car to automatism

There is quite a wide variety of training options for inexperienced drivers, which allow you to get a feel for the dimensions of the car in the shortest possible time. We want to acquaint you with the most effective ones.

Beacons .

This is the simplest, but from this no less useful way to feel the dimensions. For this method we will need the following objects absolutely safe for the car:

  • Cones of any bright color.
  • Plastic bottles filled with sand. You can stick bright flags in the bottles for better visibility.
  • Bags or cardboard boxes filled with something very soft.
  • Old tires.

The next step is to install these beacons. Now you can begin directly to work.

  1. The driver must stop his car so that he front bumper, first the central part, and then the sides, touched the installed beacon. It is important to touch, and not to knock down or not to reach – it turns out approximately with the tenth – fifteenth time.
  2. Then it is necessary to fulfil the same exercise with a back bumper. These exercises should be brought to automatism.
  3. After passing the first two stages it is necessary to go further. Mark the contours of two cars with beacons at a distance of 9 – 10 meters. Next, we begin to practice the method of parallel parking, which is considered quite difficult.
  4. In bottles with sand we put high sticks that will imitate a gate and begin to work out the passage. At first the distance between the bottles should be about the width of your car + 1 meter. Then gradually narrow the distance, reducing it each time by 10 cm. Exercise will be considered worked out if you can pass the car in the gap, exceeding the dimensions of the vehicle by only 10 cm.
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Exercise with flashing lights


To do this exercise, we will need several empty plastic bottles. They are very well susceptible to deformation and at the same time make a very loud sound, which is almost impossible not to hear. We lay the bottle on the road and try to run over it first with one wheel, and after achieving stable success with the other. Exercise only seems simple, but without a good sense of the dimensions of the car to make it almost impossible. Gradually it is possible to complicate this task. At first we try to do the same thing, but already at a higher speed. Here it is important not to exceed 60 km / h, as you can get in an emergency situation. The most difficult variant of such training will be a collision with a tire on an object, simultaneously making a turn maneuver. Not even all drivers with great experience cope with such a task on the first try.


Quite a common way to learn to feel the dimensions of the vehicle will be the method of setting tags. Most often it is used by women. This can be done in several ways, but the easiest, in our opinion, will be the following option. We will need a large ruler. We put it to the hood at the level of the center of the front wheel. The other end should be against the windshield, at the intersection you need to put a mark. You can do this with a marker, a small colored sticker or duct tape. Then you need to do the same with the second front wheel. These marks will help to drive the car the first time and better cope with other training.

Exercise with tags

Parts of the car can also become reference points for the driver, for example, many novice drivers can see deflectors on the hood, they are very good at marking the front edge of the hood. Bulges installed by the manufacturer over the headlights can be of great help. Things are a little more complicated with the installation of the marks at the back of the car. Drivers of crossovers or hatchbacks quite often focus on the rear windshield wiper. Sedan drivers, on the other hand, can try to install the antenna on the very edge, which, however, is not always convenient.

Electronic equipment

Today, many vehicles are equipped, even in the basic version, various systems aimed at helping the driver, but it is also necessary to get used to them. Such systems can also be installed independently. The simplest option includes sensors that warn of the approach of an obstacle by sound or color indication. In expensive variants, you can find rearview cameras with a grid to determine the distance to the obstacle. Presence of all such devices does not mean that it is not necessary to learn to feel dimensions of the car. This feeling gives a sense of confidence and pleasure of the trip. Don’t be lazy and do the exercises with all your electronics.

Electronic equipment

If you just got your license or bought a new car, you should not neglect additional training and wait for the first incident. Pay as much attention to practice as possible and soon you and your car will be one.

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How to develop a beginner’s sense of dimensions of the car? Instructor tips

One of the most common difficulties cadets encounter when learning to drive is a lack of a sense of vehicle dimensions. Inexperienced motorists cannot determine where the body ends, which makes them feel insecure when driving or parking. Some drivers have a slightly different problem: they can not accurately calculate the distance from the car to the obstacle or another car, and therefore risk getting into an accident. Develop the ability to feel the dimensions is quite possible independently. The main thing is to practice regularly and perform a series of exercises.

Why do I need to feel the dimensions?

This skill is extremely important for the motorist, because it largely depends on safe behavior on the road. A person who does not feel the real dimensions of his car or is unable to adequately assess the distance to any object, more than others risks becoming the perpetrator of an accident. Besides, the understanding of this parameter is necessary for confident performance of a number of maneuvers:

  • Parking in a narrow space, during which it is important not to hit the side of neighboring cars, bollards or other objects;
  • changing lanes, where an incorrect assessment of dimensions may lead to a side or rear-end collision with another vehicle;
  • overtaking, during which it is important to correctly estimate not only the distance to oncoming vehicles, but also to the vehicle on the right;
  • braking in front of a land crossing, where a wrong feeling of dimensions may end up in an accidental collision with a pedestrian;
  • Driving into the parking lot, where careless maneuvering can lead to the fact that the body tangentially catch the wall or a column, which at best will be a scratch on the surface, and at worst – a dent.

Frequent mistakes of beginner drivers

Often beginners make a number of mistakes, due to which they do not feel the dimensions at all or miss the assessment. One of the most common problems is a general unpreparedness. To get used to the size of the car, you need to drive it for at least a few days, preferably to work out the maneuvers in an enclosed area where there is no risk of colliding with another driver or run into a pedestrian. Only after that you can go on your first independent trip in the city.

Another common mistake is self-confident behavior on the background of an incorrect sense of dimensions. Because of it, the driver tries to pass in a close space, mistakenly believing that the car will pass freely, and will hurt objects with a bumper, wings or mirrors. Rash execution of a maneuver on a freeway is especially dangerous, where the wrong estimation of dimensions may cause a serious accident.

Besides, many beginners experience similar difficulties, when transferring to another car. For instance, if you were trained in a sedan in a driving school and then learned to drive an SUV after getting your license, you may estimate dimensions incorrectly for an average of 2-3 weeks. Such a mistake is not uncommon even among experienced motorists, not to mention beginners, who have to get used to a new vehicle longer.

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Another popular mistake is trying to see what is directly in front of the bumper while driving. It does not help to get used to the dimensions faster, but the risk of an accident increases: while driving, the driver should look at the road, not at the hood.

Some motorists make the mistake of reading dimensions when parking or overtaking using their rearview mirrors. With a lack of practice, it can be difficult to immediately realize that reflected objects are closer than they really seem. In addition, many cars have blind spots, which must be taken into account when driving.

Exercises for development of sense of dimensions

Beacons .

This is a relatively simple exercise, before which you need to make beacons themselves. For this purpose, plastic bottles of 1.5-2 liters are suitable, inside which sand is poured to create stability. Then a long rod is inserted into the neck and marked with bright paint or a piece of cloth. The beacons are placed in front of the car and the exercise itself begins. In the course of it, it is necessary to drive as close as possible to the marker so that the bumper touches it just a little bit. The bottle itself should not fall from the bumper touching the bar: if it does collapse, the exercise is considered not passed.

Such an action is suitable both for practicing forward movement and for backward movement. The second option is somewhat more difficult, because in the process you have to orient only to the reflection in the rear-view mirrors. In addition, the exercise is suitable for the development of the sense of lateral dimensions. For this purpose, a pair of beacons is set at such a distance that the car passed between them with a margin of 3-4 cm. After that, you need to drive between them. If none of the beacons does not fall down, the exercise is successful. A more complicated variant – the arrangement of several bottles to create a complex route, for example, to practice a snake.


This exercise helps beginners to work out the feel of the wheel line. First, you need to take several boxes of cardboard or empty bottles, then place them in front of the car. During the exercise, you should try to run over different objects with one or the other wheel. It is also possible to complicate the task by putting two boxes in front of each other at a small distance, so that the wheel passed there with a small margin. After this it is necessary to try to pass so as not to hit any of the items.

Such an exercise helps to develop a sense of the dimensions of the wheelbase. This is especially important when passing an obstacle like an open manhole or a pothole in the asphalt, where you can fall and damage the tire, gearbox or even the bottom of the car. The aerobatics is to do the exercise while driving in reverse.


This is one of the most popular exercises, which helps to develop a sense of dimensions faster. On the windshield you will need to place marks corresponding to the position of the front wheel axle. To do this, you will need to do a few things:

  • put a long ruler on the hood so that it is centered on the front wheel;
  • bring the other end to the windshield, fixing a line of the front wheel center, and mark a point with a marker;
  • repeat the procedure for the other front wheel and make a visual mark on the glass on its side.
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After that it will be possible to be guided by the marks left on the glass in order to understand where exactly the front wheels are. This is especially relevant when it is necessary to enter a narrow archway, while driving in a multi-storey parking lot, as well as overcoming narrow local roads.

Important! Some car models are equipped with deflectors on the hood, which, in addition to the decorative task, are used to facilitate the evaluation of dimensions. When driving in reverse, you can be guided by the rear window wiper.


This exercise develops the inner eye and trains the skill of reversing. In the process, it is necessary to set the car parallel to the sidewalk line on the first attempt. In the course of it the beginner can run over the curb, which will allow to consolidate the understanding of the size of the car. The procedure is carried out on an enclosed area or a small street with low traffic. When mastering on your own, you can practice the exercise first on an empty lot or parking lot, and then, when the skill begins to consolidate, in city conditions.

At driving schools this exercise is often done with an instructor who makes recommendations that allow you to park in parallel with minimal effort and time, through a megaphone or radio transmitter. When the cadet masters slow parking, the exercise is repeated with a time limit: at the start the speed should be a minimum of 15 km/h, and at the end – up to 30 km/h. This allows you not only to practice your hand-eye coordination skills, but also your reaction speed, because in the city you have to spend as little time as possible on parking.

Recommendations for beginners

In the process of fixing the skill you should take into account a few tips:

  1. You should try to drive as close to the beacons as possible. If at first you can not do this, it is worth increasing the distance, and then gradually reduce it.
  2. Separately you should work out the maneuvering with the blind spot. If you can not cope, and the car repeatedly grazes the nearest objects in this area, you should think about installing enlarged mirrors.
  3. You should work on your left-hand drive with beacons location on the right side, because it is this side that stays in invisible zone. For right-hand drive cars, beacons should be placed on the left side.

The main task at development of sensation of dimensions is constant practice. Regular exercises will not only help in mastering this skill, but also will not allow you to forget it, which happens during a long break in driving.

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