Is it bad to leave cars parked on an incline?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

My partner and I recently bought a new house. The driveway up to the garage is inclined. We are hoping to someday get our cars (or at least one of them) into the garage, but we are presently having work done to the house, so the garage is filled with boxes. Consequently, our two cars are parked outside the garage on an incline. Is this bad for a car? One is a Nissan Pathfinder, and the other is a Saturn. -- Patty

RAY: Well, I wouldn't be worried about the Pathfinder, which is designed to go up and down hills. But the Saturn is really a flat-road-only car.

TOM: We're just teasing you, Patty. Your cars are fine. The hill should make no difference to anything. Any hill you can drive on, you can park on without doing any damage.

RAY: All the fluids are in sealed containers and really can't leak -- unless you tip the car over on its side. The brakes don't care, and the way the suspension is weighted on a hill hardly makes any difference.

TOM: The only possible problem I can think of would be if you're extremely low on gasoline. If you're on a hill and the remaining gas settles at the very back of the tank, it's possible for it to be out of reach of the bottom of the gasoline pick-up tube. If that happens, you won't be able to suck up any gas to get the car started. It's rare, but it does happen.

RAY: But since you'd be parked on a hill, you could always, what? Roll down, and THEN start the car. So I wouldn't lose any sleep over it, Patty. I'd be more concerned about getting those building contractors out of your house before the turn of the next millennium.

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