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July 31, 2009

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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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