Losing track of your car in a full parking lot happens to everyone, and it’s always frustrating. When you park in a crowded area, it can seem nearly impossible to find your car when you come back for it, no matter how sure you are that you know exactly where you parked.
However, there are some simple strategies that you can employ to make sure that you never lose your car in a crowded parking lot again.
Method 1 of 4: Be smart about where you park
Step 1: Park near a landmark. Find an easily noticeable landmark to park near. It may not be possible to find a landmark that you can park directly next to, but you can usually find a tall landmark and park near it so that you easily locate the general vicinity of your car.
- Tip: Look for unique trees or lamp posts, or certain features specific to the section of the parking lot that you are in. For instance, if you are at an amusement park, park near a certain roller coaster.
Step 2: Stay away from the crowded spots. There is no guarantee that your part of the parking lot won’t fill up before you get back to your car, but your chances are better if you start at a place that isn’t already crowded.
As long as you’re willing to walk a little bit further to wherever you’re going, you should be able to find a relatively deserted portion of the parking lot. If this area stays deserted, it will be a lot easier to find your vehicle when you come back.
Step 3: Stick to the edges of the parking lot. There’s no easier place to find your car than at the edge of a parking lot.
When you park at an edge, it cuts down drastically on the amount of cars surrounding your vehicle, making your car more visible.
- Tip: If you are having trouble finding your car when it’s parked at an edge, you can walk around the edges of the parking lot, and you’ll eventually find it.
Method 2 of 4: Document your parking spot
Step 1: Make a note in your phone about where you parked. Most parking lots have labeled sections to make it easier to remember where you parked (for instance, you may be parked in P3).
As tempting as it is to think that you’ll remember this label, you’ll probably forget it before you come back to your car. It only takes a few seconds to make a note on your phone about what section you are parked in, and it can make all the difference when it’s time to find your car.
Step 2: Take a picture of your car. After parking, use your phone to take a picture of where your car is parked, so that you can look back at it for reference.
For the best results, take a picture of your car and its surroundings, and then another picture of a nearby landmark (such as a section label, a lift sign or an exit sign).
Method 3 of 4: Make your car easier to identify from a distance
Step 1: Add a colorful antenna topper. Antenna toppers stand up taller than most vehicles, making your car easier to find. A colorful antenna topper makes it a lot easier to spot your car in a crowded space, but is still subtle enough that it’s barely noticeable when you’re not looking for it.
Step 2: Add a flag to your car. If you want something that’s easier to spot than an antenna topper, you can put a flag on your car. Car flags attach at the top of the door and are prominent so that you can easily find your car even in the fullest parking lot.
- Tip: You can find a flag for something you love, such as your favorite sports team, so that it not only makes your car easier to find, but adds an element of personalization as well.
Method 4 of 4: Use technology to assist you
Step 1: Download a car finding app. There are multiple apps available today that help you find your car. These apps utilize GPS to help lead you right back to wherever you parked and can make finding your vehicle in a crowded parking lot a complete breeze.
Step 2: Use your remote keyless entry system. The remote keyless entry system is a great way to find your car when you know you’re in the right vicinity but still can’t find your vehicle (such as at night, when visual hints are harder to find). If you’re within your remote keyless entry system’s range, you can press the panic button to sound the alarm and flash the lights, thus alerting you to where your car is.
- Tip: If your remote keyless entry system does not have a panic button, you can press the lock button twice; if you are within range, the lights will flash and the locking tone will sound.
Use one or more of these techniques to help you find your car in a parking lot. You can be comfortable knowing exactly where you have parked and that you will not have spend hours to search for your car.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Keep Track of Your Car in a Large Parking Lot and was authored by Brady Klopfer.