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1987 Ford F150 - which gear is best for parking brake?

I live in hilly terrain. Sometimes my parking brake slips off the ratcheting device that secures it when applied. To be extra safe, I leave it in gear. I’m wondering if 1st, 4th or reverse is the best choice in terms of providing engine resistance and therefore extra braking.

4th is generally best since it takes more effort to rotate the engine.

That does make the most sense. Thank you for your response.

Take care.

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Park in first gear, the lowest gear provides the most resistance.
Park on a down hill grade in forth gear and release the brake, the truck will likely begin to roll easily.

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I was taught that with a manual transmission if the front is facing down hill to park it in reverse with the wheels turned toward the curb . If the front is facing up hill to park in first gear with the wheels turned away from curb.

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Thanks for your response. I’m hearing opposite answers - first gear vs. fourth gear. The more I think about it, 4th gear, being larger, would seem to provide more resistance than 1st gear. Kind of the same reasoning why, using the running engine, you can’t start from stop in 4th but you can from 1st.

Take care,

Find yourself a steep hill with out traffic ( parking lot ) put it in first and if it holds push the clutch in just enough to let it start rolling then let clutch out and see if it stops. Do the same thing with fourth and you will have the answer.


Excellent experiment. From my recollection, you will prove to be correct. 4th won’t hold as well as 1st. Nonetheless, I’m curious why that is the case.

Because in first gear it is easiest for the engine to move the car and hardest for the car to move the engine.

I had a 71 VW bus with a 4 speed manual that needed frequent valve adjustments (yes, I flogged it). I painted marks at top and bottom dead center and adjusted the valves at every oil change without getting out from under the car by rolling the van forward and back with one hand in 4th gear.

First gear holds the car the best. When in first gear the car moves one foot and the engine turns over 4 times. In 4th gear the car moves one foot and the engines turns over one time. My numbers aren’t exact but they represent the facts. First gear and reverse gear are usually the same ratio so either one is good. Note: If your engine has lost much of it’s compression the engine may not hold the vehicle on a steep incline.

For any manual I owned (haven’t owned one in 12+ years)… If facing downhill, I’d put gear in reverse. If facing uphill, I’d put gear in first.

That is exactly what I did with my manual shift cars.

I fratelli Magliozzi answered this question with reverse, the argument being that it is the lowest gear, thus resisting wheel rotation the most. Because the engine isn’t running what direction the car is pointing doesn’t matter.

I was taught reverse when pointed downhill, but that was my non-expert father.