How Wide Is a Car? (Car Average Width in Different Units)

It’s pretty obvious you need to know how tall your car is so that you can safely fit through tunnels and under overpasses. Bridge strikes are very common for trucks driving on certain roads. But, asking how wide is a car is maybe just as important.

How Wide Is an Average Car?

The average width of a car is about 6.5 feet. Some vehicles may be even narrower, and bigger trucks might be as wide as seven feet. The

Why Does the Car Width Matter?

The width of a car is essential in terms of design and practicality. While vehicle width isn’t standardized, the widths of things they interact with often are. So understanding your vehicle’s width is crucial for making sure it fits where you want to go.

Parking Spaces

States, cities, and municipalities regulate parking space dimensions. For instance, New York City zoning codes instruct that parking spaces should be 8.5 feet wide, except in certain circumstances where a width of only 8 feet is permissible. An 8-foot wide parking space is pretty tight, especially when you consider the room that you need to swing open your car door for entry and egress.

It may seem silly, but if you’re pulling into a narrow parking space, you may even need to let your passengers out before you pull in, or there might not be room enough to open the door.

Road Lanes

The lanes on a road or highway are standardized, accommodating most vehicles without issue. Across the Interstate system in the United States, lanes are always 12 feet wide. Most state highways have an identical lane width. There are some variations, but that is an excellent rule of thumb. At the local level, there is much more variation in lane width.

Towing Trailers

When you’re towing a trailer, the geometry of making a turn changes. Since the total length of the vehicle increases when adding a trailered load to the rear, wider turns are necessary. So, it’s vital for drivers towing trailers to know the width of their car and the road.

Garage spaces

The width of spaces in parking garages varies considerably. If we return to our NYC example, garage spaces must be at least 8.5 feet wide. For drivers of larger pickups, that is fairly narrow, so their truck may not even fit in some of  NYC’s smallest garage spaces.

Drive-thrus

Drive-thru ordering is quite convenient. And just like there is a maximum height, there is also often a maximum width. But instead of an overhead sign, there’s usually a metal post or other rigid object that serves as the only warning your vehicle is too narrow. The same logic applies to traveling through a toll booth.

It’s probably not a good idea to try and drive a tour bus or a semi-truck through a narrow drive-thru with a sharp bend. But, these sorts of vehicles pass through toll booths all the time.

Driveways

States, cities, and municipalities may regulate driveways in their code enforcement. For instance, in the City of Boston, a residential driveway must be between ten and twelve feet in width. That should usually be plenty of room for a car to pass between two buildings.

Carrying a Load

If you’re carrying a load on the back or top of your vehicle, it is legally permissible for it to protrude from one side or both. However, there are codified limits on how far things can stick out in relation to the total width of the vehicle and its load.

You may also have to add a ‘wide load’ sign and flags to your vehicle. Some loads may even require an escort through certain traffic corridors. If anything you’re carrying sticks out from the frame of your car, it’s often required to attach a red flag to it for visibility.

How Wide Is a Car in Different Measurement Units?

Measurements in the US are in imperial units. For reference, here is some information on the width of cars in other forms. We’ll stick with the average width of 6.5 feet for reference.

How Wide Is a Car in Meters?

One meter equals just over three feet. So, 6.5 feet measures 1.98 meters. So, it follows that an average car is about two meters wide.

How Wide Is a Car in Yards?

An average car of 6.5 feet is 2.2 yards wide since there are three feet in one yard.

How Wide Is a Car in Inches?

There are twelve inches in one foot. So, some quick math reveals that a car that’s 6.5 feet wide is 78 inches wide.

How Wide Is a Car in CM?

An average car is 198 centimeters wide. Centimeters are pretty small so rounding up to 200 cm is a good standard width in centimeters.

How Wide Is a Car With Doors Open?

Once you open the doors on a car, it usually gets wider. Some cars have doors that open vertically, but they aren’t too common. So, you should assume that a car with the doors wide open is at least six feet wider than it would be with the doors closed. However, there are tremendous differences across vehicles.

Average Car Width in Different Categories

Here’s a quick reference so you can see what different car widths look like, broken down by vehicle types. Keep in mind these measurements don’t include things like side-view mirrors, running boards, or aftermarket accessories. They represent the width from door skin to door skin.

Car categoryWidth in feetWidth in cmWidth in InchesCar model example
Small SUVs6 – 6.5183 – 19872 – 78Ford Escape
Large SUVs6.5 – 7.5198 – 22978 – 90Chevy Tahoe, Range Rover
Minivans721384Chrysler Grand Caravan
Sports saloon6.5 – 7198 – 21378 – 84Volve S60
Small sedan5.5 – 6168 – 18366 – 72Honda Civic, Mazda 3
Full-Size pickup trucks6.5 – 7.5198 – 22978 – 90Chevy 1500, 2500, 3500
Sub-compact sports car6.118673BMW ///M2 Competition
Station wagons6 – 7183 – 21372 – 84Audi A4 Allroad
Electric cars5.5 – 7168 – 21366 – 84Tesla Model 3

Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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