Car rolls backward


When I park my 2002 standard Chevy Prism in my driveway, turn off the engine, let my foot off the brake, and let my foot off the clutch, my car rolls backward seemingly on gear cog at a time for several feet until it reaches the flat part of the driveway.

It seems to do that in any gear, but especially 2, 3, 4, & 5 and even in reverse and 1st gear it rolls just a mite. My driveway is almost flat. I now automatically use the hand brake.

Clutch? Transmission? Something else?


You should ALWAYS use the parking brake, regardless. The parking brake is designed to hold the vehicle in place when parked, hence the name.

I’d suspect a worn clutch is causing this. Does it slip when you accelerate?


Me too.


It probably is a worn clutch, but…

You mention that it does this in every gear. What gear do you usually leave it in? Your car should have no trouble rolling away in 4th or 5th. Given a steep enough hill, a car with a little engine will even roll in 1st or reverse. It is normal for a car to roll “a mite” because the engine has to rotate to a compression stroke before it will hold your car. In a low gear this should only mean a few inches, but in a higher gear it could be a fair distance on a 4-cylinder.

To test the clutch, apply the parking break and then try to put the car into first gear using the gas pedal to keep it running. If you can keep the engine running with the clutch pedal all the way up, you need a new clutch.


Fellas, this guy is on a steep driveway. Every car should ALWAYS be parked with the parking brake on. That is what it is there for. Otherwise, your relying on the transmission parking prawl in Automatics, or the engine compression in manuals to hold the car for you. And, as you found out, the engine compression on this car is inadequate for the job. 1st gear is the one that rolls the least because of the gear advantage of torque multiplication. Basically, it torque value from the engine compression is at it’s greatest advantage with this car. But it is still not enough. But, the parking brake was made just for this situation, and that is what you must use. Your not having any engine or clutch problems.


If you know your car will roll backward on your driveway, why not make a little wedge and put it behind a rear tire. Rather than risk having the car roll away unattended, I would use this wheel chock. This way you will have the protection of the parking brake, first gear and the chock under the wheel. If the parking brake would fail to hold, your car still won’t roll away.


FWIW, If in reverse and rolling forward, or in 1 through 5 and rolling to the rear, the engine will be turning backward which can cause timing belts and chains to jump. But most likely the car is rolling against weak compression.