Four tips to help you navigate parking in the city

Consistently pleasant weather, more cultural attractions than you could imagine, nearby mountains and beaches – all are good reasons to love living in Los Angeles. But there’s one negative that almost every Angeleno has to deal with on a regular basis: heavy auto traffic and the corresponding lack of available parking.

The search for parking in Los Angeles can consume a considerable amount of time and money, so knowing a few secrets can be a big help. Here are a few helpful tips that can save you headaches and money in one of the toughest cities to find parking:

* Buy a smaller car. One of the best ways to win at the parking game is to simply be able to fit where other vehicles can’t. While you once had to give up comfort and cargo space when you bought a compact car, that’s no longer the case. Consider the 2013 Kia Rio, which comes with a six-speed manual and automatic transmission option, as well as a 5-door hatchback option – both unique options for the subcompact class. With options like this, you won’t be sacrificing many of the comforts of a larger car while you get the maneuverability of a compact.

* Take advantage of LA Express Park. With this program that’s being piloted in downtown Los Angeles, you can check on the availability of meter spots before you get to your destination. Download the app to your smart phone or check from your computer before you leave. The app also allows you to drop a pin on the map where you parked, and a corresponding application allows you to pay from your phone without having to plug a meter or visit a pay station.

* There are also apps available that can help you find off-street parking. One example is Parkmobile, which can be used as a way to pay remotely for on-street parking in the downtown Express Park area as well. These apps can help you avoid surprises – no more getting to the ramp only to find that it’s full or is charging way more than you expected.

* Outfit your car with parking-friendly features. Cars like the Kia Rio are now outfitted with rear-facing cameras that can be extra helpful when you’re parking in tight quarters. Built-in GPS systems can also help you navigate while you’re looking for a spot.

Parking in a city like Los Angeles will always be a bit of a challenge. But with the right tools, you won’t have to spend the whole day circling the block waiting for a space to open up.