How to Find Your Car in a Parking Lot

Finding your vehicle in a packed parking lot can be a struggle. Here's a guide to help you keep track of your car's location.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
Make your car's parking spot easy to find by parking it in a recognizable location, using tracking apps, and making your car stand out.
Shopping malls, large event centers, airports, and sporting venues are all notoriously difficult for keeping track of your parking space. It can take a long time to pinpoint your car's location in a sea of vehicles, particularly if your car is a common color or design. And taking note of your license plate number isn't much help.
Fortunately, there are a few tricks for keeping track of your car in a large parking lot. Read on to learn how to find your car no matter where your parked location is.
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Find your car in a parking lot easier by parking near a light pole or landmark

When you are searching for a
parking spot
, don’t just make a beeline for the one closest to the entrance.
Be deliberate about where you park, and choose a spot next to significant locations like a light pole or landmark for reference. It can also be helpful to create a note with walking directions to your parking spot on your phone.
Many larger parking lots have big, numbered poles scattered throughout, and parking next to one of them can offer you an easy point of reference.
Tip: If your car has
keyless entry
, and if that keyless entry engages the horn, makes a beep, or features a panic button, use it to your advantage and listen for your car.
MORE: Why parking lots are bad for your car insurance rates

Avoid the crowds

Not only is it easier to find a parking location away from the most crowded areas, but it also often means that you will be able to leave the parking lot faster. Crowded areas are more congested when it is time to go home. You will thank yourself later if you avoid them from the start.

Use your phone to plot your location

Most smartphones have some form of map technology, including the widely used Google Maps app. You can use these apps to "drop a pin" in your current location before your leave your car. You can save the location of the pin and use it to navigate back to your car later.
For example, certain iPhones 6 and later can remember where your car was parked using location services and Apple Maps, and if drop pins are available, that’s a useful tool as well. There are also free apps available for Android phones that serve the same purpose, but you’ll need to remember to engage with these apps before you close the door and walk away.

Make your car stand out where possible

You might have a car in a popular shade of gray or white, but that doesn’t have to be the only defining feature of your vehicle.
One sure-fire way to never lose your car in a parking lot again is to make it truly unique. You don’t need to add a new feature like a roof rack or paint it an odd color.
Keep a small, plastic window mounted flag with you in the trunk and mount it after you park. This will help you find your vehicle faster when you are scanning the rows of similar looking vehicles.
MORE: How to back into a parking space

Use an app or technology to find your parking spot

There are a ton of technological apps and devices with new features that can help you track the location of your car, even when it is parked. Consider purchasing a specific device that relies on Bluetooth technology and an app on your phone to monitor the location of your car.
With car finding apps and related tech, you’ll never struggle to track it down again.
Being conscious of where you park in a large parking lot and employing tools like car finder AR helps you easily locate your vehicle hours or days later. The above tips for keeping track of where you left your car will be one less thing to stress about and make shopping, appointments, and traveling that much less of a hassle.
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