How to leave your manual transmission when you park it.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I love to drive a manual transmission car. However, I've always received conflicting information on how to leave my car when I park it. One ex-boyfriend (clueless) told me to leave it in Reverse and not worry about the parking brake. A second ex-boyfriend (also clueless) told me to apply the parking brake and leave the transmission in Neutral. My new boyfriend (smarter, I think) tells me to leave the transmission in Reverse, and apply the parking brake while the regular brake is still applied. He says this will keep the car parked safely, while avoiding putting strain on the transmission gears. Should I call up one of my old boyfriends or keep the new one?

TOM: I think you've found the man of your dreams, Barbara. I'd start looking for a caterer immediately.

RAY: You can't just leave the car in gear. Too many things can go wrong. For example, you have a slipping clutch, low engine compression, or if your gear shift just pops out of position, your car's going to roll. And you really can't trust the parking brake alone either, because you never know when the cable might break. So it's important to use both systems.

TOM: And you want to use the gear with the highest ratio. That's the gear that's going to make it most difficult for the wheels to move the engine (and therefore, let the car roll). In most cars, that gear is Reverse, although First gear is very close, and is OK for parking, too.

RAY: And if you apply the parking brake before taking your foot off the brake pedal, you'll keep the car from rolling into the gear, which does stress the transmission a little bit.

TOM: So I'd say you found Prince Charming, Barbara. Or, at the very least, Prince Parking.

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