When parking your car do you apply the handbrake and leave your car in gear too?
Picture the scene: you manage to find a parking space right outside your destination, execute a perfect parallel park and jump out. As you’re walking away a faint graunching noise emanating from under the car gets louder, before a sudden ‘twang’. Your handbrake cable has snapped, but it’s OK, you’ve left your car in gear to prevent it rolling away. Or have you?
Our recent survey discovered that 25% of Which? members never leave their car in gear, even when it’s parked on a hill. Conversely, 35% will always leave it in gear, with the practice more prevalent amongst drivers over the age of 65.
This sensible precaution is likely to become more widely practised soon. That’s because new changes to the driving test in April 2014 now sees learners taught to leave a car in gear and apply the parking brake no matter where it’s parked. So what should you actually be doing?
Leaving your car in gear
Well we spoke to Mark Lewis, director of standards for the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), to help clear things up. Mark told us:
‘There is little need to leave a manual vehicle in gear when parked and unattended if the parking brake is working effectively. Vehicles fitted with automatic gearboxes get locked into park even though they have a parking brake.’
However, when parking on a hill it can be prudent to leave a car in gear in case the handbrake fails. As Mark pointed out:
‘On an uphill incline turn the wheels away from the kerb and leave the vehicle in first gear. Similarly when facing downhill, the vehicle may be left in reverse and the wheels turned towards the kerb.’
He also told us that drivers should de-clutch before starting the car – a requirement on more modern vehicles – to prevent it jerking forwards unexpectedly. Depressing the clutch also reduces wear on the starter motor.
Applying the handbrake
With the advent of the electronic parking brake, operated via a switch or button rather than a lever, there is less chance of the handbrake cable working loose over time, and eventually failing to hold the car properly.
But in my experience these electronic parking brakes are hit or miss as to whether pressing the button actually activates them. Although you’re soon reminded as your car gently rolls away as you try and get out.
So were you taught to leave your car in gear when parked? And do you regularly do so? Also, would you trust an electronic handbrake to hold your car over a conventional manual one?
Do you leave your car in gear when you park?
Yes (70%, 3,281 Votes)
No (30%, 1,437 Votes)
Total Voters: 4,718