Turning the wheel while parked on a hill

A co-worker and I have a dispute. When you park your vehicle on an incline, I was taught to turn the wheels into the curb, so if the brakes fail, it will roll into the curb and not go anywhere. My co-worker claims that doing this will throw off the alignment of the vehicle and should, therefore, be avoided. Who is more correct?

That’s what we were taught in drivers training way back in 1974. Turn the wheels in or out depending if its up hill or down hill. It would be very rare though that the park setting in an automatic would fail though. More likely a manual transmission with the parking brake could slip a little. At any rate that’s the standard practice and tested on the drivers test. But if you don’t bang the wheels against the curb, and the wheels never touch the curb, it would have no more effect on alignment than steering. Now some people will roll the wheels into the curb and then put it in park. That could affect the alignment. So just practice the no touch method and no problem IMHO.

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In Bangor Maine the cars would go in the river if you didn’t turn the wheel when you parked. This hasn’t happened in the last few years but it’s about to start again. Turn the wheel before putting it in park and you will be able to get it out of park a lot easier.

Nonsense. Just look at the abuse your suspension takes on a daily basis compared to this- even if you butt up against the curb.



Additionally, even if this practice did “throw off” the alignment, ask yourself this question:
Which of these scenarios is preferable…Would you rather pay for realignment of your wheels, or would you rather deal with a collision with another vehicle in the event that your vehicle rolls away?

If the car hits the curb at very low speed, it won’t damage anything, including the car in front of it. Don’t turn the wheels, and you might do the latter.

You win. Your friend owes you lunch.
The reasons have already been mentioned, but I wanted to add that even if hypothetically turning the wheels COULD affect your alignment (it absolutely cannot, but just for the sake of argument let’s say it could), isn’t that better than having the car roll out into an intersection and get slammed by a passing truck? Or roll away and roll over someone’s child or elderly grandparent?

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If turning the steering wheel to orient the front wheels properly with the curb when the car is not in motion affected the alignment, it seems like every car on the road would have an alignment problem. After all we do this all the time during parking maneuvers. Maybe the concern is about turning the steering until the front wheel is fully against the curb. I suppose that could damage the steering rack or even the power steering pump if you did it forcefully enough. But it isn’t necessary for the wheel to make contact with the curb to just get it in the right orientation.

There are signs along the streets all over San Francisco saying CURB YOUR WHEELS! Worrying about the effect on the suspension is like refusing to step on your brakes until the situation is desperate, to make them last longer.

I would not like to do it if my wheels were right against the curb before turning them, not sure if that could mess with your alignment

I think the OP’s co-workers concern is if the parking brake fails and the vehicle rolls into the curb the impact will affect alignment.
Unless the hill is very steep the speed will be very low, <1 mph, since it will roll less than a foot or so.

Barky, you’d have to use all your strength and slam the wheel against the burb for even the possibility of affecting the alignment to exist… and even then I’d be amazed if you could affect it. The parts are designed to be able to withstand far more force than you could muster. If you did change the alignment by turning the steering wheel until the wheel touched the curb, it would mean you have some serious front end wear that needs to be addressed.

Someone already pointed out that the alternative consequences would likely be much more severe than a relatively simple alignment issue. It’s an irrational fear that has much more dire consequences if the conventional wisdom is not followed…

Co-Workers concern. How about the fact that the co-worker just doesn’t know what their talking about.

That co-worker’s misinformation brings to mind one of my favorite quotations:

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
— Bertrand Russell


Yes, and that’s why I didn’t feel the need to repeat that again.

I absolutely love that statement. :smile:


Well, in California if you don’t turn the wheel you could get a ticket that would cost you more than an alignment or two.

I, for now, would make sure you don’t park your car around that friend’s car!

Are you sure?

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I’m not sure… I’m full of doubt. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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