How to leave your car parked: Handbrake, handbrake + gear or only gear

I had heard from a friendly mechanic who used to service our Esteem that it’s better to put the car in the 2nd gear & not engage the handbrake unless necessary.

BHPian [email protected] recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

After about 10 years worth of driving, I’m still curious to understand what is the ideal approach to park your car (with/without the handbrake engaged).

I have figured, and I follow these:

Long ago, I had heard from a friendly mechanic who used to service our Esteem, it’s better to put the car in the 2nd gear and not to engage the hand brake unless necessary. His logic was the tyre’s life increases (marginally) when you do not let the handbrake’s friction rub with the hot rubber.

How true is this, I do not have any conclusive data/analysis, though I still follow his advice religiously when I park on flat surfaces in known areas.

What do fellow bhpians follow as a standard practice while parking their cars?

Here’s what BHPian Jeroen had to say about the matter:

You use the term hand brake, but you might want to check the owner’s manual and you will find it is most often called a parking brake. Because that is its purpose, nothing else.

There are only a few reasons when not to apply the parking brake:

When you park in freezing conditions because the parking brake might freeze solid. Or when you leave your car parked for prolonged times, best put it in gear as the parking brakes might get stuck. There might be situations on very steep inclines where you might have to engage the parking brake and gear as well. But on any gentle incline the parking brake, when pulled tightly should provide more than sufficient holding power. If they don’t you might want to get them checked!

Otherwise, you can use your parking brake to your heart’s content.

Leaving a car parked in gear does not serve any purpose other than under the two conditions I described earlier.

The argument of your mechanic doesn’t make sense to me at all. Nothing rubs against the tyres, your wheel rim is mounted on what is essentially the brake drum. The brake mechanism itself is all inside the drum. You can’t even see it.

There are two variants of parking brake mechanisms. Either a drum brake, which could be on top of the disc brake or make use of the same as your regular brake. Or on a disc brake, your parking brake is activated by mechanically pushing the brake pistons out, identical to how your brake pedal does it hydraulically. The latter version is much less susceptible to getting stuck or freezing.

Good luck and happy parking!

Here’s what BHPian Kosfactor had to say about the matter:

Other than the exceptions mentioned in Jeroen’s post – Always apply the parking brake/handbrake.

If your vehicle has an AT as well as a push-button start – It’s better to straighten your wheels, apply the parking brake first > Move the transmission selector to park and turn off the engine.

So why parking brake?

It’s not always that people are in their sharpest state of mind while getting into the driver`s seat – could happen to anyone. So if the vehicle is in gear and parked on an incline, as soon as the driver instinctively depresses the clutch pedal – it would start to roll, there may not be enough reserve in the brake booster mechanism to provide the adequate stopping power and all the panic and chaos to follow – till the vehicle crashes into something and stops!

@OP – Second gear is what we use for a push start, use first or reverse while parking.

Here’s what BHPian shipnil had to say about the matter:

Not sure why the brake liners would come in contact with hot rubber. AFAIK engaging the hand brake applies the rear wheel brakes. As most cars in India have drum brakes in the rear, the brake liner gets pressed to the drum.

On flat surfaces, I use hand brake only. On slopes, if it slopes to the rear, I use the hand brake and first gear. If it slopes to the front, I use the hand brake and reverse.

But one must be careful if using gears when parking, as you need to go back to neutral before turning the engine on. I have developed a habit of using the clutch every time when I crank the engine (irrespective of whether a gear is engaged or not) hence I never have had surprises.

Here’s what BHPian RedTerrano had to say about the matter:

1st gear + Parking brake. Always!

If the car is parked on a slope (car facing down), reverse gear instead of 1st.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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