How bad is parking in neutral?



I have a 1992 Subaru Legacy, automatic. It currently won’t shift into PARK. I can slam the shifter into that position but it’s not registering with the car. I’m told it’s my transmission. For now I’m leaving it in neutral (on level ground) and using the parking brake? Is this bad for the car?


It should be OK, especially on level ground. Just be sure you can trust your parking brake.

Actually, if you are going to use just one, the parking brake is a better choice than the transmission’s park pawl. Many years ago, some Fords would slip out of Park and roll away unless the owner also used the parking brake. Conclusion: using both is best, using only the parking brake is OK, using only Park is risky.


You’re supposed to use the parking brake anyways even when in Park, to help prevent damage to the parking pawl. As long as the parking brake works normally, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with this.


As long it is on level ground there should be no problems. However why not put it in park. Under those conditions putting it in park should cause no problems and might even save you some problems.


This sounds more like a shift cable adjustment than a bad tranny. Get a second opinion.


Bad?! Who told you it was bad! By all means, leave it in neutral with the brake set. And I agree with the previous poster that your problem may require merely a simple adjustment of the shifter.


Thanks to everyone who replied, your comments are very helpful. Being prepared with some knowledge regarding a proposed problem is definitely a good thing. Thanks again.


I think someone even mentioned your problem, if not directly. It was budd2049 in mentioning the parking pawl. FIRST, however, as was suggested, make sure the shift cable is adjusted correctly and allowing full range of motion from Park to low. After that, it’s probably a sheared/worn parking pawl.

That doesn’t require a rebuild, but the labor to pull the transaxle, fix the park mechanism, and reinstall the trans will still be a killer. Just make sure your parking brake works well, because you’re going to get some dirty looks if your car takes off down a hill and takes out a preschool or something.


… and curb your wheels.


Curb the wheels if there is a curb and point them in the direction that your run-away vehicle will do the least damage if there is no curb.


I was seriously hurt, way back in 1964 by a car parked in neutral that was parked on level ground but on top of a hill. It had its parking brake on but manage to roll down the hill with no driver. It hit me and another boy in the back. I ended up with the front car wheel on top of my right leg, crushing my leg. The other boy remarkable will through the center with just a broken hand and lacerations to the face. I have been back to this same place several times and still can’t belive this happen in the area where the car was parked. Be careful, and please get your car fixed.