How to Find Where I Parked My Car? 11 Proven Ways

Have you ever parked at an empty parking lot to find it full later? Losing cars nowadays isn’t limited to long night trips out on the town. Sometimes, it only takes a quick grocery trip to forget where you parked. So, how to find where I parked my car? If you struggle to remember where you parked your vehicle often, check these foolproof tips to keep track!

How to Find Where I Parked My Car? 11 Foolproof Ways to Locate Your Vehicle

how to find where i parked my car (infographic)

Turn to Google.

Thanks to technology, we don’t have to worry about losing our parked cars ever again. And one of the best solutions to a forgotten parking spot is Google Maps! It can help you locate your parked vehicle and determine the best route. You can pin your car’s location yourself or have the Google Assistant find the exact area.

But before you begin, there are some prerequisites you must keep in mind, including the following:

  • The latest version of Google Maps and the Google app. 
  • Your phone should at least have the Android Marshmallow system or above. 
  • Turn on your smartphone’s location services. 

Once you have everything in place, save your parking location on Google Maps. You can either keep it via the “Save Your Parking” option or instruct Google Assistant. Regardless, Google Maps generally make it easier to find where you parked your car. 

Prefer Apple to find Where You Parked Your Car? Check Out Apple Maps.

person holding white iphone
Photo Courtesy of CardMapr

If you’re an iPhone user, go to Apple Maps and set your parking location.

Tap the blue pin to save your current spot and press down until the option for “Dropped Pin” shows. Regardless, tapping on this gives you detailed directions to your parked car. 

But before you can use Apple Maps, you must tweak a couple of settings to locate your parking spot. First, have your location services turned on, then switch to significant locations. Finally, enable “Show Parked Location” so you can track your car after parking the next time you go driving. 

Ensure you’ve connected your iPhone via Bluetooth or CarPlay to get the most out of Apple Maps. You can find your parked car via Apple Maps at any time or place.

Finally, tap the “Parked Car” pin and “Go.” At this point, you should have the walking directions to your parked car. 

? When in Doubt, Trust the Apps! 

Regardless of how long your car can be parked without moving, trust in the apps when locating it. Below are some of the best vehicle locator apps for Android and iOS. 

  • Parked Car Locator is an excellent app for Android that lets you find your vehicle across different views. You can switch between normal, hybrid, satellite, and terrain POVs. 
  • Find My Car with AR is a paid locator app for iOS. When parking your car, it lets you add a new location with a license plate icon. Although it specializes in AR, you can also get directions from different views. 
  • Find My Car (GPS Navigation) is a classic app for Android users. It makes it easy to record your vehicle’s location and track it later.

Take Advantage of Your Smartphone to Find Your Parked Car.

Although smartphone apps are great tools for finding a parked car, you can also use your phone alone. After all, not everyone has access to a 24/7 internet or data connection. Plus, nobody wants to download apps they’re only likely to use once! 

Luckily, we can take advantage of our smartphones alone when looking for a parked car. 

One of the simplest yet efficient ways of finding a parked car is remembering landmarks near the vehicle. And with a smartphone, you can easily snap a few pictures of the surroundings of your parking spot. 

As a result, finding your parked vehicle should be easy, even in a packed parking lot. Plus, it saves you on extra expenses and data!

Press the Panic Button. 

person holding Mercedes-Benz fob
Photo Courtesy of Roland Denes

If your car has a modern remote key fob (the tiny handheld remote control acting as the key), you can use it to find your vehicle easily! It should have a red emergency button or the “panic button,” setting off the vehicle’s alarm. With this, locating your car should be seamless. 

But this only works if you’re in the range of your vehicle. So, it would be best if you made the extra effort of going through the parking lot to find your car. Still, it makes it easier to spot your ride as it sets off a loud alarm. 

When pressing the panic button, here are a few things to keep in mind to avoid trouble:

  • Have a working key fob. Don’t expect the panic button to work if you have a dysfunctional or drained key fob. So, keep your car’s key fob in prime condition. 
  • Turn off the alarm immediately. A car making loud noises will never look or sound good in the eye of the public or authority. So, once you find your parked car, shut down the alarm fast! You can do this by pressing the panic button again or starting the newly-found vehicle. 

Ask the Parking Attendants for Help. 

If available, ask for parking attendants to help find your parked car. Many large-scale parking lots, such as those in airports, have dedicated parking attendants. These individuals can help you locate your vehicle in no time. 

Check to see if available in the current parking lot you’re at, and if so, look for a help number. There should be fliers of these numbers nearby, and once you snag them, call them immediately. Sometimes, you may also contact them via an emergency phone from the establishment.

So, if you don’t have your smartphone with you, that should work. Meanwhile, check the nearby establishments if you’re in a place without a provided number or phone. See if there are available lot attendants that can help you out. 

Either way, parking attendants can find your car fast using your license plate number. Or sometimes, some of them can locate your vehicle by a brief description alone. 

How to Find Where I Parked My Car Without Tech? Go Old School!

If the apps didn’t work for you and there weren’t available attendants, it’s time to go old school. You can easily find your original parking spot by simply noting landmarks near your parking spot. And yes, I meant writing these little details in a notebook and pen.

Although this might not be the most fashionable method, it works and is foolproof.

When writing your vehicle’s parking location, it’s best to look for a distinct identifier to lead you back to the area. For instance, you can note your parking section’s color, number, or letter. Meanwhile, if you’ve parked on the streets, jot down the name of the building next to it. 

Retrace Your Steps. 

woman standing beside white SUV on street at daytime - parking
Photo Courtesy of Collins Lesulie

Trust your gut and retrace your steps to find your parked car if all else fails. Recall distinct markers near your parking spot, whether a tattered lamp post or an eye-catching graffiti. Make it a habit to look if your parking area has a section or label when first getting out of the car. With this, you should easily remember the landmarks and markers near your spot. 

Here are a few of my proven tips to get the most out of this method: 

  • Pick a landmark. Landmarks that are easy to remember are pillars, lights, billboard signs, and buildings. So, try to see any of these near your parking spot. After all, they make it easier to find your car later on. 
  • They are made for your convenience. Most commercial parking lots have labeled sections or overhead signs for easy identification.
  • It’s all about memorability. Try to choose something eye-catching that you can see a mile away from the parking spot. For instance, remind yourself that you’ve parked on St. East street, near a pink billboard. 
  • Could you write it down? If you’re struggling to remember any of these, write every little detail of your parking lot. 

Retrace your steps back to the vehicle once you have the needed info about your parking space. Aside from the landmarks and markers, remember which way you walked when exiting your car. And as challenging as it is to recall your steps, it’s worth the try. Plus, it works most of the time!

Search, Search, Search. 

If you’ve retraced your steps to no avail, keep searching the parking lot. Looking row by row is the best way to go over the entire parking lot, allowing you to ensure you don’t miss anything. I recommend starting at one end of the lot and gradually going to the other end while checking vehicles on both sides.

Moreover, as tempting as it is to speed your way through the parking lot, it’s not ideal. After all, it’s easy to miss a car among the sea of vehicles in parking lots, especially commercial ones. So, check each aisle carefully to avoid missing your ride!

Although tedious, as long as you search thoroughly for it, you’ll find your car eventually!

Call Your Local Towing Companies

If you’ve thoroughly searched the parking lot to no avail, your car might have gotten towed. You can confirm by calling your local towing companies if they’ve impounded your ride. And as unusual as this might sound, parked cars go missing all the time due to towing. 

From parking in accessible parking spaces for the disabled to taking two spots, these are violations that can get your car towed. You can further confirm this by checking if the area has “towing” warning posts. Generally, these posters have phone numbers, making it easier to call about your car. 

Keep the following in mind when contacting your local tow company:

  • Inform the tow company of your vehicle, and double-check if they have your car at their place. 
  • If a number isn’t available, go to your city’s official government website. It should have a referral link to sites you can use to locate your car. 

Ask for Help from the Police and Your Community. 

high angle photo of person holding turned on smartphone with tall buildings background - how to find where i parked my car
Photo Courtesy of Jakob Owens

If you’ve confirmed with your local towing company that your car isn’t at their lot, your vehicle has been stolen in the worst-case scenario.

Contacting your local law enforcement is your last resort. But don’t just straight up call the national emergency hotline. For this case, you must call your local police’s non-emergency number. 

From there, you must formally report the theft. Doing this boosts your chances of finding your car and makes it easier to file an insurance claim. Aside from that, make sure to have all the legal documents regarding your vehicle on hand. This way, locating your car, if stolen, should be more accessible. 

Here are some of the things you must have on hand for quick identification of your vehicle:

  • License plate number
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Proof of sale
  • Car title 

Unfortunately, most officers don’t often take car theft seriously as they have more important things to handle. And if this is the case for you, it’s time to involve your community. You can spread the word faster by going to social media and posting messages about your missing car. 

I recommend including your car’s year of manufacturing, model, and color to make it easier for the public to identify. 

How to Never Lose Your Parked Car Again?

Although finding your parked car is possible in a sea of vehicles, save yourself the hassle and practice preventive measures. Here are three foolproof ways never to lose your parked car again:

✔️ Make Your Car Stand Out. 

If you have a generic car that everyone in town has, you can easily confuse it with others. Plus, it makes it more challenging to find when parked in a sea of vehicles. The best way to overcome this is by making your ride stand out! 

Whether temporary or permanent, adding a personal touch to your parked car makes it easier to find. 

✔️ Park Your Car Near Something You’d Easily Remember. 

The best way to never lose your parked car again is by securing a spot near something memorable. Luckily, most parking lots have some landmarks that are easy to imprint on the mind. If not, try to park as close to things you’d recognize from a mile away.

If needed, you may also take a picture of these markers to make them easy to find later. 

✔️ Secure a Parking Spot Near the Exits. 

Although it’s challenging to secure a parking spot near the exits, it’s worth it. The extra distance from the entrance makes it easier to remember where you parked. So, in case you forget where you parked, go to the exits, and you’ll find your car there. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How to find where I parked my car without a tracker?

A: Certain apps can track the location of vehicles without an inbuilt GPS device. For instance, “Find My Car” is a free app that lets you find your car in a parking lot using your phone’s GPS radio. It allows you to tag and retrieve the exact location of your vehicle in the parking lot. You can find your parked car even if it has no built-in GPS!

Q: What can I do if I forget where I parked my car in the parking lot?

A: If the empty parking lot suddenly becomes full, call for help from the establishment. Whether an airport or mall, these locations are more than willing to assist you. They know how often people forget where they parked, especially during rush hour. Most of these establishments implemented technology to locate vehicles fast—and easy. 

Q: How can I track where I parked my car in the parking lot?

A: If available, you can locate your car via the Google Maps app. Input the parking location, and the app should direct you to your vehicle in no time. Meanwhile, contact the establishment you’ve parked at if you don’t have access to that. Once connected, give the staff your license plate number, and they should help you from there. 

Q: How does Waze know where I exactly parked my car?

A: Waze assigns you a parking pin to your map with your vehicle’s exact location whenever you park. So, if you forget where you parked your car, open the Waze app, and you’ll get a walking ETA for its location. It makes things easier as it gives you directions before going to your next destination. 

Q: Is it possible to track where I parked my car with VIN?

A: You can locate your vehicle online using the vehicle identification number (VIN). And this can also be handy in finding stolen cars. 

Final Words

How to find where I parked my car? There are many ways to locate a parked vehicle, from downloading apps to retracing your steps. Losing your vehicle will never be fun, but as long as you prepare yourself, the search should not take long. So keep the tips in mind, and you’ll find your original parking spot in no time!

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