Should You Put Your Car in Neutral Before Parking Brake

Should You Put Your Car in Neutral Before Parking Brake

Parking your car might seem like a simple task, but did you know that improper parking habits can lead to costly damage to your transmission? So, should you put your car in neutral before parking brake?

It is recommended to shift the car into neutral before engaging the parking brake. This ensures that the car is supported by the brakes rather than the transmission and reduces the stress on the transmission.

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of parking your car correctly and share two methods that will help you avoid transmission issues and expensive repairs.

A Lesson Learned

Many years ago, I had a friend who shared a cautionary tale with me. It was about him, and he happened to have a steep driveway. Every few years, he had to replace his car’s transmission. And you know why? It was all because he neglected to use the emergency brake whenever he parked on the incline.

Instead, he would just pull up the driveway, put the car in park, and leave it there. Little did he realize that this lack of caution would eventually lead to his transmission failing repeatedly over time.

How Many Types of Parking Brakes are there?

There are three types of parking brakes.

  1. Pedal type
  2. Lever type
  3. Electronic type
Parking Brake TypeActivationDeactivation
Pedal-typeActivate by pushing down the parking brake pedal while holding the brake pedal down.Release the parking brake pedal by stepping down on it again.
Lever-typeActivate by pulling up the parking brake lever while holding the brake pedal down.To release the parking brake, one should slightly raise the lever, press the button, and then fully return it to the lowered position.
Electronic-typeActivate automatically when the shift lever is put into the P (park) position.Release automatically when the brake pedal is stepped on, and the transmission is put into any other position (e.g., D – drive) except P (park).

5 Tips on Parking Brake for New Drivers

The parking brake is most commonly known as an emergency brake or handbrake. Here are some tips for new drivers using the parking brake:

Tip 5: Understanding the Parking Brake

The parking brake is activated when the lever is up and deactivated when it is down. In most cases, you don’t need to press the button to activate it when parking, but there are exceptions.

Tip 4: Deactivating a Tight Hand Brake

If you find it difficult to press the button to deactivate the parking brake, try pulling the lever up slightly until the button sinks into the lever. This will make it easier to press it down.

Tip 3: Remember to Release the Parking Brake

hand brake of a car

Before driving, always make sure to release the handbrake completely. Forgetting to do so can cause increased brake wear and higher fuel costs over time. Check the dashboard for any indicator lights to ensure it is lowered properly.

Tip 2: Maintenance

The parking brake system consists of cables and springs. They can accumulate rust and dirt over time. Even if you don’t use the handbrake regularly, occasionally engage it to prevent it from getting stuck.

Tip 1: Emergencies

The parking brake can serve as an emergency brake if the main brake system fails. Remember to press the button before engaging the brake, and keep it pressed to maintain control. Failure to do so may cause the brakes to lock, especially in slippery conditions.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Safely Park Your Car

Parking light of a car

Use one of these two methods to make your transmission last longer.

Method 1

To ensure your car is parked safely without putting unnecessary stress on the transmission, follow this method:

  1. Stop your car and engage the emergency brake.
  2. Shift into neutral and take your foot off the brake pedal. (This ensures the car is supported by the brakes, not the transmission.)
  3. Put your foot back on the brake pedal and shift into park.
  4. Turn off the car, and you’re all set!

Here, you prioritize the role of the brakes in holding the car in place, reducing the strain on the transmission. This may take a bit of practice. Once it becomes a habit, you’ll protect your transmission effortlessly.

Method 2

If the above method seems too complex for you, don’t worry. There is a simpler alternative. This still protects your transmission.

  1. Pull your car up to the desired parking spot.
  2. Engage the regular brake.
  3. Leave the car in drive.
  4. Apply the emergency brake.
  5. Shift into park and turn off the key.

This method doesn’t involve shifting to neutral. But it still ensures the car is held in place primarily by the regular brakes and the emergency brake. This also minimizes the strain on the transmission.

Note: Remember, using the parking brake and shifting into park are both essential steps when parking, so it’s wise to follow the correct order. Whether you’re parking on an incline or a flat surface, incorporating this habit will benefit your car in the long run.


Why is there a parking brake?

While its primary purpose is to keep your automobile in place, the parking brake can also be utilized to securely stop your car in an emergency. Just bear in mind that it won’t suddenly stop your car; it will only assist you in bringing it to a stop.

Where is the parking brake?

Situated between the two front seats of your car, there is a lever that forms a part of it. You only need to lift the parking brake lever to activate a center lever parking brake.

Can a parking brake fail?

A drum or disc may distort if you continue to drive for several kilometers with the parking brake engaged, even partially. Additionally, if the brakes overheat enough, the linings may break or even detach from the pads or brake shoes as a result of the adhesive failing.

What happens when I put the gear into parking?

A mechanism known as a parking pawl regulates the braking system of your car when it is in the park position. When the car is in park, the automatic transmission system of the vehicle has this device installed to lock the gears into place and prevent the car from rolling away.


You should put your car in neutral before parking brake. By adopting one of the above two parking methods, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in potential transmission repairs. Remember, neglecting to park your car correctly can lead to extensive damage over time.

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