Zen guide to finding where you parked your car

At My Auto Shop, we like to keep it real and relatable.  We also like to do what we can to make things as stress free as possible, from the workshop to the wheel.  But what about those driven-related moments that don’t place in the actual vicinity of your vehicle?  Say, like, looking for your keys in a carpark.

With new, expansive shopping malls popping up throughout New Zealand, we thought it was high time to reveal our stress-saver tips on how to find your car in a packed car park.

Whether you’re taking part in a last minute dash for Christmas shopping, or just picked a day out when everyone else decided to as well, we’ve all been there.  

There’s one particular hotel/restaurant and casino in Auckland’s central (that will remain nameless) has provided more heart-pounding anxiety trying to find my car than I could ever hope to achieve at the craps table.  And honestly, parking there really is like taking a gamble.

I digress!  So, you don’t want to lose your key.  I get it.  I really do.

Here are a 5 things you can do to make that car search a little more stress-free:

  1. Signs, markers or ticketing machines.  Do a quick visual scan, are there any about?  Does one have a mark or sticker on it that distinguishes it from the rest?  Take a mental note of any visual markers and you’re already one step ahead.

  2. Retrace thy steps.  Ooh, I can’t stand it when people suggest I retrace my steps.  The reason why?  Because it seems so obvious, coupled with the fact that I most likely haven’t actually retraced my steps, and its most likely that the car is going to be there at some point along that route.  Don’t shirk the obvious!

  3. Key remote panic buttons are a carpark lifesaver! Admittedly not particularly zen, but they could save your panic levels rising. If you think you’re close to your vehicle, say on the right level or within a reasonable distance from the vehicle, think about sounding your car’s panic button and listening for the alarm or double-beeps.

  4. Sheepishly ask the parking attendant.  They won’t bat an eyelid!  That’s how common this is, and it’s part of their job.  Don’t be too proud to ask for help.  In some parking lots there are cameras which allow the attendants to identify the location of a vehicle based on a visual match of its registration plates.  They might also have a sweet little mall buggy to escort you around to find the vehicle.

  5. Take a deep breath end and walk slowly down each row.  This is a very manual approach, but it never fails to work.  You just need to slow down, keep the registration or car model that you’re looking for right in the front of your mind, and you’re pretty much Batman.  You know,  the bit when he presses a button and the Batmobile somehow just shows up?   No?  Okay, you’re welcome

But, what if you wanted to actual avoid this agony altogether? 

Well, we do have a few, let’s say, preventative measures you can take if you want go full Batman on your carparking (and actually just find your car).

  • Park near and entry or exit point, that way even if you can’t remember which level you’re on, you’ll know the general area.  Keep an eye out for obviou markers, numbers, colours, or dare-we-say, graffiti, as this is often very bright and distinctive.
  • Park in an emptier, or less crowded, section of the carpark
  • Take a phone photo of where you parked, including any distinguishing markers
  • Grab a parking level reminder tag that is sometimes available at shopping malls and entertainment complexes
  • When you take note of where you parked, say it back to yourself multiple times so it takes up temporary space in your short term memory.  You’ll feel pretty smart and also get some bonus memory training out of it!

If you want to be a real parking pro, there’s a great tool in Google Maps called Location Marker which lets you set your location and then find your way back there easily.  Apple Maps also has a similar function, and it’s super handy (and also quite Batman-like).

So, whether you’re using your own internal memory or making use of some of the spectacularly simple tools available on your phone, we hope this article arrives at a saintly time for you.  With Christmas just around the corner at the time of writing, this will hopefully give you a bit more headspace to deal with the crowds of people swamping the mall itself.  

Good luck!