Hand Brake AND Transmission Brake - Overkill?



On an automatic transmission, is it overkill to engage the hand-brake as well as putting the car in “park”? How about on a hill? In a manual transmission, does the car need to be put into gear as well as engaging the hand-brake? Does this answer change if parked on a hill as well?



The handbrake should be used on ALL cars when parked on an incline. It should be applied before you remove your foot from the brake pedal.

With an automatic, the tranny should be in Park.

With a manual, the tranny should be in either 1st gear or reverse gear.

Opinions differ on whether the hand brake should be used on flat ground. I don’t generally use mine on flat ground. Some folks do just to keep it loose and working.


In my opinion, yes, you should use the parking brake and transmission either in “Park” for an automatic or in first gear for a manual. Saying to do it only on a hill is just silly in my opinion. If setting the brake and transmission is a habit, then you don’t have to even thing about if you are on a hill or enough of a hill to matter, you just always set both and don’t worry about it. As far as I am concerned there is no down side to setting both all the time.


Drivin’ for 23 yrs…still learning something new! Thank you for the input!


You would not be asking this question if you lived in say, Pittsburgh. On a hill either or both are not a substitute for pointing the wheels in the correct direction so that the car does the least damage if both let go. That information is probably in any driver training manual for new drivers.


So, what have you been doing concerning parking on a hill (incline) with a standard trans or automatic over the last 23 years?




Do all of the above and it’s also preferable on a hill to turn the wheels in a bit and use the curb as a stop.

Many years ago the early VW Rabbits had a problem with something as simple as a rubber grommet for the radio antenna cable, which ran through the left inner fender into the car. On a rainy night sometimes water would run down the cable, inside the car, onto the fuse block, and short the starter solenoid wiring.

This meant a manual transmission car left in gear without the park brake being set would take off on its own while being powered by the starter. The car would motor down the road until the battery was dead, the starter was burnt up, or the car hit something; usually the latter.

I’ve seen 3 or 4 VWs with dented front or rear bumpers (depending on if it was left in a forward gear or reverse) and in one case the owner reported his car stolen when he found it missing the next morning. He failed to see it rammed against a light pole a block away. :slight_smile:


See,see! I told you you should write a book!

I never seen that back then but have heard of it.

This is not in the same vein but related to the older cars: Before the advent of inner wheel well liners almost every car that was used where salt was a factor in vehicle life expectancy, had front fenders with long rusted out (mostly right through) sections in the tops of the fenders.

I grew up in B.C. on the west coast by the ocean and salt was (is) a major factor. My dad bought a new Datsun pickup (1958?) and inside of a year the holes were already appearing.

Nobody thought of rust proofing in those years. He simply traded it in on something else new. Every year he did this so the vehicle was always covered by a warranty. Only one year warranty at that time.

He paid cash for the first one, then when he traded it in when the new ones came out, all he had to pay was the difference in cost (from one year to the next) plus taxes.


Only on a hill are both advisable regardless of tranmission type. If there is a curb, turning your front wheels so that the one near the curb is resting against it with the weight of the vehicle is also a good idea, perhaps essential in San Francisco. After hard braking, for example after descending a mountain pass, setting the parking brake will warp your rotors by over heating them.


Well, here is why I posted the question to begin with…I have been parking my car with the hand brake only in my manual car, except when on a significant (whatever that may be) incline. My husband found out that I had doing this and started freaking out. Then, to add to his point, he was grousing about me parking the automatics with the transmission brake only.


yes overkill.

if you knew what was inside the trans you would understand.

if not do as you please.

hope that helps