Parking on hill

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StevePil | 21:57 Sun 21st Oct 2007 | Motoring
16 Answers
Hi All
Quick question, when parking car on a hill or drive way do you leave your car in gear and does this cause any damage to the car?
I park up on my drive which is quite steep going down to the main road, and I always leave my car in gear, but recently heard if the handbrake did go I would need a new gearbox as it would damage the gears? I know some may say well if it rolled into the road it would be damaged, but just want to know re gearbox/engine if anything.
Thanks all

Ps) does anyone also know the clutch test, put my car in 4th the other day and tried to drive and it stalled, does this mean clutch is good on car?


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I was interested with wanting to know about the clutch test so found this
Leaving it in gear is a good safety move especially on a hill,
it will not cause any damage even if the handbrake fails.

If you drive off in 4th any car will stall, unless it has massive torque.
One this question, I have just watched a "Watchdog" programme from 2-3 weeks ago when they report about a Vauxhall model which allowed the hand-brake to come off and the car roll away. In all instances they were obviously parked on a slope for the car to move but no mention was made of why the car was not left in gear. In the fifty years I have been driving, I have always left the car in gear when parked and really assumed that everyone else did, so it puzzled me that Watchdog did not even comment on it. If parking on a slope of any sort on a road, I also turn the front wheels into the kerb. Doesn`t this make sense?
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I would like to add that you should park the car in a low gear, like second. The idea being that the compression of the non-running engine will prevent the car from running away. I don't know if they teach this at drving schools these days.
Perhaps it is time you read your highway code again.

That advises you to leave your car in gear when parked on a hill.

I'm with Mad Butcher, I was taught to leave it in gear all the time.
Question Author
Thanks all, always leave car in gear, just wanted to ensure it dont cause any damage,
any advice re clutch test
thanks again
I agree, leave it in gear and turn the wheels towards the kerb: and I do doubt that they do teach it in driving lessons any more!

I am a biker and am always amazed when I see people parking bikes on the side stand facing the kerb i.e. pointing down the camber. All it takes is one little nudge from something to push it of the side stand, mash up your mirror, tank, fairing etc etc. I always reverse the bike so the back wheel is against the kerb and the front facing up the camber, so that

a) the bike rolls itself down the camber so you dont have to use any effort
b)gravity is pulling the bike down the camber and thus holding the side stand on
c) any slight nudge will not knock the bike off its stand
d) when you go to move off, you drive off normally i.e. use the engine to move the bike forward rather than having to reverse it up the camber by leg power.

And yes it appears that the test you did is what the pro's use to test the clutch, as seen on Watchdog.
The thing that I find odd in the highway code on this, rule 252: /Highwaycode/DG_069860

is that they say when parking facing uphill select a forward gear, and when facing downhill select reverse.
Surely if the engine is stopped, the fact that it is a forward gear or reverse is irrelevant. Have I missed something?
yes panic, it is mechanically impossible for an engine to turn in foward motion whilst the geabox is in reverse, and vica verca,
that is assuming the engine is stopped of course.
Thanks, I never knew that.
You would probably soon know if the clutch was slipping but you can test it by driving up a slight hill in 4th gear at around 40mph then press the accelarater to the floor, if the engine revs rise but the car does not go any faster the clutch is slipping.
when an engine is not running, I assure you that it NOT mechanically impossible for an engine to be turned in the opposite rotation sense (ie. you can engage reverse when the engine is stopped, the car is parked and the car is facing downhill), its just so that if the car rolls then the engine will be turned in its normal sense.

as for why they should say that, I believe it is most likely because the engine develops compression (the effect that you are using to stop the car moving if the handbrake fails) when it is being turned in its normal rotation direction: how much compression there is if you try to turn it the wrong way is probably not zero but it may be less than in the normal rotation direction
Question Author
Thanks all again
I have another question, what oil do I need for my car,
VW 1.9 TDI 2002 model
I have read its fully synthetic, but I see Quantum, and lots of varieties not sure what one I need, as know need to monitor oil levels, more so with a diesel
any help would be great

ps) does it matter if the makes of oil are mixed? as not sure whats previously been put in the car? thanks

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