Is it okay to park a car in first gear?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1988

Dear Tom and Ray,
I have a 1981 Mazda GLC with a 4-speed manual transmission. I was taught to park the car with the shifter in neutral and the parking brake engaged. However, I notice that whenever I bring my car in for service, no matter which shop I go to, the mechanics always leave the shifter in first and the parking brake disengaged. Is this the correct way to park a car or is this some kind of macho ritual practiced by auto mechanics?

RAY: It's a ritual designed to increase the speed with which one can move a car, which is something mechanics do all day long. If a vehicle is left in first gear, the driver simply hops in, pushes the clutch, and turns the key. As soon as the car starts, he lets the clutch out and the car moves. Over the course of a day, this can save a mechanic 15 or 20 seconds. UPS drivers are also taught to park their vehicles this way.

TOM: UPS drivers need this macho ritual to partially offset those silly brown uniforms they have to wear.

RAY: If you really want to park your car "correctly," you should use both the transmission and the parking brake. Parking brakes are notoriously ineffective, and the transmission will only secure the car if the clutch is in good working order--that is if it's not slipping. Your best bet is to use both.

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