Can You Leave Your Car In Walmart Parking Lot – Good Idea Or Risky?

Owning a car gives you a lot of freedom and mobility, but that doesn’t mean they’re always affordable. It’s common to find a place to park short-term, but in today’s crowded urban environment finding a free parking spot can be difficult, especially if you need to park for more than a few hours. 

Whether you’re road-tripping or need a place to park your vehicle while you wait on repair parts, you might have heard Walmart is an excellent place to park. But is it true that you can you leave your car in Walmart parking lot?

Generally, yes you can leave your car in a Walmart parking lot. However, every Walmart is different and some managers and local restrictions may not allow parking for personal reasons.

Although you can park in a Walmart parking lot, it may not be the best idea; especially if you’re trying to do it overnight. The security of your vehicle is not necessarily their responsibility. Still, there are some advantages to parking there, and we’ll get into this in just a bit!

Can I Park Overnight In A Walmart Near Me? 

Most likely, yes! 

Almost all Walmart locations allow overnight parking, parking for several days, and even living out of vehicles parked in their large parking lots. 

For any company, more people in a parking lot is a good thing. Mostly, because more cars in the parking lot help make the stores look busier and because people who park in Walmart are at least a little more likely to shop there at the same time. 

That means that Walmart is often one of the only places in towns with plentiful free parking and low-to-no risk of a parking ticket. They’re a favorite destination of RVers and road trippers for this reason. 

We’ve even heard of people living out of their cars in Walmart parking lots. After all, having a grocery store nearby with easy access to bathrooms and groceries can be a huge plus. 

Before we get too much into the details, let’s talk about a few reasons you might choose to park at Walmart overnight. 

Reasons You Might Want To Park At Walmart

People choose to park at Walmart for many reasons, whether they need to park there for a few hours or even several days. 

Here’s a list of some of the most common reasons people will park at Walmart. 

  • Waiting out road closures with a grocery store and facilities nearby
  • Waiting for parts to get ordered from a nearby mechanic, not wanting to tow the vehicle more than once. 
  • Roadtripping without needing hotels/hostels/campgrounds
  • Parking to sleep when rest stops or RV campgrounds aren’t available
  • Housing gaps/choosing to live in your car or RV
  • Just purchased an RV or vehicle and still working on long-term storage options
  • Needing a place to park while renovating your garage
  • Needing temporary parking while your driveway/apartment parking lot is re-done
  • Wanting free parking while you explore a nearby downtown area or park
  • And Many More! 

As you can see, there are many reasons someone might need temporary parking and want to take advantage of Walmart’s free parking policies. 

Think of Walmart’s free parking as a service the stores can provide to their local communities. Just remember that parking is up to the store manager, and it’s essential to check before you park overnight.

Can You Sleep In Your Car Overnight At Walmart? 

Generally, yes. Sleeping in your car overnight at Walmart is legal, even in areas where sleeping in your car isn’t legal on the side of the street or in parks. 

It’s common for police offers to recommend people move to a Walmart when they catch them sleeping in a car. 

In fact, some cities consider Walmart’s parking policies when planning parking restrictions for the rest of the city. It’s not that cities don’t understand that sometimes you have to sleep in your vehicle – but more a matter of wanting to control where people do so and make it safer simultaneously. 

Advantages To Staying Near Walmart Overnight

It’s not like Walmart doesn’t know that people stay in their cars in parking overnight or that people leave their vehicles there for a few days while they figure out other options. Walmart very much knows that this is a common practice. 

That’s a good thing for you because there are a few advantages to parking at Walmart that you won’t get in other locations. 

Safety And Visibility

If you’ve ever wondered why Walmart parking lots tend to be better lit than other parking lots, this is why. 

Because Walmart knows that many people park in their parking lots, either sleeping in their vehicles or leaving them overnight, they design their parking lots for high visibility. The extra light helps deter thieves, make it easier to see other people doing the same thing, and makes it easy for patrolling police officers to check and ensure everything is okay. 

Another big safety advantage is that Walmarts are open late and sometimes even 24 hours a day. That means there aren’t many times when the parking lot and store are unoccupied, which means even more eyes around to keep your vehicle and you safe overnight. 

Convenient Access To The Store

If you are road tripping or staying in your vehicle overnight, parking at Walmart is also a good way to access resources. 

For instance, if you wake up in the middle of the night, it’s easy to zip into a 24-hour Walmart for melatonin to help you sleep, use the bathroom, or pick up an extra blanket or pillow to make your car more comfortable. 

Walmart parking can also be a good option if your car is having problems and you need to take a look. The automotive department at many Walmarts is equipped with many of the basic tools and supplies you need to get your car working again. Running low on oil? Walmart might be able to help. Need fresh coolant? Walmart probably has some. 

Plus, if your vehicle is struggling and you discover that it isn’t a simple fix, you can leave your car there until you find a mechanic. Plus, the large size of most Walmart parking lots can make getting a tow when you need one a lot easier. 

Walmart Is Often Legal When Other Locations Are Not

Even if you only need a driving break for a few hours before you get back on the road, Walmart can be a safer option than other parking areas. 

This is because you’re not likely to get ticketed for parking at Walmart, and there’s no parking charge. 

Even in areas famous for their strict parking, like parts of California, or dense urban areas, Walmarts tend to have large parking areas designed for people to park for hours at a time. 

That means that, no matter why you need to park, Walmart might be your area’s best legal and free option. 

Is It Ever Illegal To Park At Walmart Overnight? 

In general, no, it’s typically going to be legal to park overnight, or even for several days in a row, at Walmart, no matter where you are. Walmart may even have a parking exception in some places, like in Canada, where they are one of the only free legal parking areas. 

However, Walmart’s official policy is to leave overnight parking concerns up to their managers and local laws. So a few stores might not allow parking or may not be able to get exceptions to parking restrictions in their area. 

That said, it’s incredibly rare for store managers to restrict parking at Walmart locations. Generally, Walmart sees people parking near their store as a good business strategy, so they don’t want to restrict it. 

The chances that you’re allowed to park at Walmart overnight are 90% or better, but it’s still a good idea to check with the store manager. Checking is doubly important in areas with strict parking enforcement, to make sure Walmart has an exception in that area. 

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