While automatic transmissions offer so many conveniences and effortlessness behind the wheel, it’s not entirely a fault-less system. So, does parking on a hill or incline damage your automatic transmission?
The short answer is… Yes, parking on a hill or incline can damage your car’s automatic transmission. But, it’ll only cause that excessive wear and tear or damage if you’re not doing it properly when you park.
When you’re parking on an incline or a hill, it’s advisable to activate your car’s parking brake before you shift into Park. Doing this could alleviate putting excess strain on your transmission’s parking pawl.
Bear in mind that your car’s parking pawl isn’t designed to bear this much load for such a long period of time. As such, parking on an incline or hill without the parking brake can damage the parking pawl.
- What is the parking pawl in a car?
- Negative impact on the parking pawl
- Best practices for parking on a hill
- What should you do now?
What Is A Parking Pawl
Earlier, I mentioned this thing in your car called a ‘parking pawl’. So, what is it, and what does it do? Well, the parking pawl is a critical component in automatic transmissions, often overlooked in daily driving.
Essentially, the parking pawl is a small mechanical device that engages with the automatic transmission’s output shaft. In so doing, it effectively locks the transmission it in place when your vehicle is in Park.
This singular mechanism is what prevents your car from rolling away when parked. However, its size and build are not engineered for bearing the full weight of your entire car, particularly on steep inclines.
When parked on a hill or incline without additional support (such as activating your parking brake), your parking pawl bears an excessive amount of load, leading to potential stress and wear over time.
When the parking pawl breaks, it inevitably affects your car’s automatic transmission. I’ve seen way too many instances where cars that rely solely on the parking pawl suffer transmission issues over time.
Excessive Stress On The Parking Pawl
So, what is the relation between the parking pawl and the rest of your car’s automatic transmission? The risks associated with parking on an incline or a hill without using the parking brake are quite significant.
The parking pawl, while quite sturdy, is not designed to hold the entire weight of a vehicle for prolonged periods. This undue stress can lead to wear and, in worst-case scenarios, failure of your parking pawl.
If the parking pawl fails, your car could lose its ability to stay parked and may roll away, posing a safety risk and potentially leading to severe accidents or damage. Moreover, it’s not like an easy fix, either.
Repairing a broken parking pawl on your transmission is not a simple task. It often involves complex and costly transmission work, which usually requires removing and disassembling the entire transmission.
Best Practices For Parking On A Hill Or Incline
In short, while the consequences of parking improperly on a hill or incline (i.e. not engaging your parking brake) can be quite severe, actually parking on a hill or incline isn’t a bad thing to do, if you do it right.
With that in mind, here are some tips for safely and properly parking your car on a hill or incline. This will aid in minimizing the risk to your car’s transmission when parking on a hill, so here’s what you can do:
- Use the Parking Brake: Always engage the parking brake before shifting your vehicle into Park. This alone helps to distribute the weight of your car more evenly and takes the strain off the parking pawl. A parking brake primarily uses your car’s braking system to hold your car, which is more robust and better suited for this purpose.
- Turn Your Wheels: When parking on a hill, turn your wheels so that if your car starts to roll, it will roll into the curb, helping to stop the vehicle. This is an additional safety measure that could prevent your car from moving into traffic or down the hill, if the parking pawl or parking brake suffers catastrophic failure.
- Gentle Engagement: When shifting gears into Park, do so gently. In other words, avoid moving your gear lever into the Park position with force, as this could cause additional stress on the parking pawl. On top of that, it could further lead to wear and tear elsewhere on your transmission.
- Regular Checks: In addition, it’s a good idea to regularly check your parking brake for proper functionality. A well-maintained parking brake is more reliable and effective in securing your vehicle on an incline.
To conclude, while parking your car on a hill or incline does not inherently damage your transmission, the way you park can have significant implications. Primarily, it can put immense strain on the parking pawl.
By adopting best practices like using the parking brake or turning your wheels towards the curb, you can protect your car’s transmission from undertaking unnecessary stress and potential long-term damage.
Remember, taking these small but consequential steps could make a huge difference in the longevity and reliability of your car. Plus, it’ll guarantee that your transmission can keep shifting reliably and ably so.