Pass the Pizza, Pass on the "Petrole Sole"
Don't Shortcut Life: Safety Tips from Caltrain

Parking on a Hill? Follow Click & Clack's Advice

How dumb can you be? A reader told CAR TALK columnists Click & Clack that she had parked her car on a slope in Golden Gate Park and did not curb the wheels, set the parking brake, or leave the stick shift in first gear. When she returned to her car, she found a note on the windshield and a piece of wood blocking one of her front tires. Apparently her car had rolled forward and some Good Samaritan had saved the day. She told Click & Clack that she couldn't believe someone would go to all that trouble. Click & Clack advised always taking all three precautions in case one or more of them fails: When parking on a hill, curb your wheels, set the parking brake, and if you have a standard transmission, leave the car in first gear.


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With a manual transmission, there is a greater gear multiplication ratio in reverse versus first gear, so at least in theory you would be better off in reverse. In practice, if you use the parking brake and curb your wheels, the difference would never be detected.

Of course, if you drive an '87 Toyota pickup like mine, neither first nor reverse will hold; the engine just does not have enough resistance.

Turning to automatic transmissions, simply placing the transmission in Park is not enough. First, the part that actually holds the car, the parking pawl, is relatively small. Trusting a small piece of iron, something about a half-inch long and maybe a quarter-inch thick, to hold a ton or two just seems foolish. Then there is the problem of trying to get the lever out of Park when almost two tons are pushing against that parking pawl. Best to curb your wheel, set the parking brake, and then put the lever in Park.

Or you could rely on the kindness of strangers (and good insurance).

Ernesto "Gravity" Guzman says you should leave your car in reverse gear when parking headed downhill. I have asked Click & Clack for a second opinion. Any thoughts on this? Bruce the Car Guy, what say you?

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