Piston Slap: Securing Your Stick Edition

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap securing your stick edition

Theodore writes:

Here’s one for you: what’s the best way to secure a parked manual transmission car? I leave mine with the parking brake on and the shifter in first. My cousin puts the brake on and the shifter in reverse. My brother-in-law puts the brake on and the shifter in neutral. So putting the brake on appears to be universal, but where should the shifter be? Is there any extra wear and tear from leaving the car in gear?

Sajeev answers:

Definitely park the vehicle, apply the parking brake and leave in gear. Engaging the clutch ensures the car won’t roll in the time between disengaging the parking brake and putting your foot on the brake pedal. Kinda makes sense when you think about it, no?

Leaving the car in gear won’t increase wear on the engine or clutch, unless you like to crank ‘er up without depressing the clutch pedal. Which assumes you hacked the system to allow the starter to crank without the clutch switch activated. If you went to all that trouble, perhaps you should find another hobby.

As far as your chosen gear, that’s irrelevant: all you care about getting the clutch connected to the engine. Since you mentioned it, I like second gear: it’ll slide in with a mere slap of a wrist from my billet short-shifter.

[Send your technical queries to mehta@ttac.com]

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4 of 33 comments
  • Also Tom Also Tom on May 26, 2009

    Like beeb said.

  • Kkt Kkt on May 26, 2009

    I didn't think this was such a hard question. Handbrake on, always, and in the lowest gear the car has. Usually, that's reverse, but some cars (like my Protege) have 1st gear lower than reverse. The idea is to hold the car in position, either on a hill or if someone bumps it. I was surprised to observe recently that being in gear held a car without the handbrake even in a steep (about 30 degrees) driveway.

  • Lprocter1982 Lprocter1982 on May 26, 2009

    I always park with the transmission in neutral and the spring brakes on. Of course, I drive a Freightliner tractor, so it's quite a bit different from a car. And also, I never park with my wheels turned, anywhere (either at work or in my personal car.) It wears out front suspension parts much too quickly, and in any case, I know my spring/emergency brakes work fine, because I test them every day. By the way, the tractor I drive does not have a neutral safety switch (that is, you can start it with the clutch engaged), nor does any other heavy truck, as far as I know.

  • ConspicuousLurker ConspicuousLurker on May 28, 2009

    First gear (or whatever is the shortest gear), parking break on. If it's on a positive incline, I roll back while banking my wheels towards the street so the wheel rests on the curb. If the incline is negative, I bank the wheels towards the curb and let it roll until it rests on it. If it's going to go from above to below freezing and on flat ground, I'll just leave it in gear. I learned this the hard way when I had to take my girlfriend to work and my parking break was literally frozen in place. I had to pump the lever up and down to break the ice.