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Parking on an Incline

I started a new job recently and my employer has a parking lot with a substantial grade to it. The alignment is such that you either park nose up or nose down with the grade. I’ve noticed now that as soon as I shift into Park, my car will make a small but noticeable lurch as gravity does its thing.

Is this daily lurch going to cumulatively add some wear and tear to my transmission? Am I better off parking nose up or nose down?


Can’t say for certain on the damage; I’m 99% certain the answer is “no.” To reduce or eliminate the lurch, pull into your spot, put it into park, and before taking your foot off the brake, apply the parking brake.

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The lurch is the little bit of slack in the parking pawl. What I do is firmly set the parking/emergency brake before shifting into park. The parking brake, when set properly, should prevent your vehicle from moving even with the motor in gear and the motor at idle. Should make no difference parking nose up or down. E-brake first, then shift to park.


The better way of doing things is to shift to neutral while your foot is on the brake pedal, then apply the e-brake firmly, and finally shift into “park”.


If you aren’t using your parking brake, then you’re trusting one small piece of metal to keep your car from rolling away and crashing into something. You should be using your parking brake as a backup system here, regardless of the issue about the lurching. That’s why you have it.

Good ideas above, especially to apply e-brake fully first, then shift to P. Some ebrakes work better in one direction than the other, so you could to an experiment comparing which direction yours works best; i.e. preventing rolling forward (parked facing downhill), or preventing rolling backward (parked facing uphill).

I have observed that virtually no A/T drivers use the parking brake!

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The only place where I don’t use my parking/e-brake is in my garage, which is totally level.
After seeing my aunt’s Ford roll away many years ago because the Park Pawl didn’t hold, I have made sure to use my e-brake–except in one situation:
If winter temps are rapidly dropping and I have been driving in wet conditions, I will take a chance on roll-away in order to prevent a frozen e-brake. That happened to me once, many years ago, and I don’t want to have to go through that situation again.

I would also advise parking at the very top of incline when possible so someone’s vehicle would roll into yours.

Thanks for all the replies! Yes, I live in the Midwest where steep hills are a rarity - plus I have AT - so using a parking brake is something that just doesn’t enter into my mind. Until now!

I am afraid to try my parking brake after not using it ever.

I remember when Ford got a big black eye for the slipping out of park problem. Of course there is no logical reason to use the parking brake on a level garage floor or parking space. On the rare occasions I drive an A/T vehicle parking under those conditions by the time I realize the parking brake is not needed I have already set it purely out of habit. I occasionally glance in cars parked by the curb when I am walking on the sidewalk, Virtually no A/T cars will have the brake set even on inclines.

I don’t set my parking brake in my garage, but I do everywhere else. The parking lot outside a building used to work in slopes slightly. You have to look at it from a distance to notice the slope. One day a BMW 3-Series rolled across the lot until it landed on another car’s bumper. I remember that every time I park.

Why make the exception for the garage?

I can’t speak for others, but I do it in order to put a bit less wear and tear on my electronically-activated e-brake. It has never malfunctioned in the 8 years that I have owned my Outback, but if it does malfunction it could be somewhat pricey to repair. Hence, a bit less usage and… perhaps… a bit less chance of a malfunction in the future.

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I make an exception for my garage because the the floor is level. The garage floor should slope about 1/4" in a 4’ run.

In Bangkok Thailand it is very common to not apply any form of braking at all when parking. If the area is level enough the car doesn’t roll away. No “P”, no parking brake. Partly due to Bangkok terrain being pretty flat. But even done that way in multi-level parking garages, which seem to be purposely designed to have level parking surfaces. The reason is that parking spaces are at a premium, so double parking is allowed. Then other people can push your car out of the way if it is blocking their exit. No way this is happening in the USA, can you imagine what would happen here if somebody pushed on your car? But in Bangkok other people pushing your car out of the way is an everyday occurrence.

Same goes for parking in Paris France, or France in general. People will nudge the cars forward and back to make a parking place “fit” their car. Germans think this is abhorrent (in public) but some do this as well in big cities!

I have never visited Bangkok but double and even triple parking in European cities is common. Off street parking is virtually non-existent. There are no WalMarts or supermarkets with huge parking lots.

I guess you’re probably used to doing that. For me it’d take more effort to do something out of the ordinary. I muscle memory parking brake, turn off car, release clutch pedal. Or in the other car: parking brake, neutral, release brake pedal, shove in park, turn off car.

The only time I don’t use the parking brake is when I’m using someone else’s car and they never use it. Otherwise they won’t remember to disengage when they drive again.