This question is discussed all over the internet, but it seems to be just a voting procedure. I'd like to get a high-quality answer, and, since I couldn't find it on SE, I'll ask it again here.

With the manual transmission, when parking on a horizontal surface, should I leave my car in neutral plus the hand-break or in gear plus the hand-break?

Strangely, I get the following impression from the forums: In schools, they teach to park in neutral, with the hand-break only. And the experienced drivers then recommend to forget it and park in gear.

I seem to understand the reasoning behind the "in gear" approach, but I do not understand why the schools teach it differently.

  • @Paulster2 ahhh, either this was posted here by mistake or there are some problems with the SE engine...lol Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 23:50
  • Marking this question as opinion-based is already a good indication of the answer :) I wanted to have exactly a technical answer, so the ones from mikes and JuanStrauss are both good.
    – texnic
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 13:37

2 Answers 2


My suggestion is always park with the transmission in gear and the park brake on. Along with curbing the wheels. Gear selection (forward or reverse) on flat ground, I choose reverse. My reasoning is that a vehicle parked curbside is more likely to be struck from the rear. Even a nudge from a careless driver can push the vehicle if it is only held by the park brake. As most vehicles are now front or all wheel drive this means that the front wheels are being used to prevent the wheels from moving if the transmission is in gear. Since most park brakes are holding the rear wheels you have both the front and rear wheels preventing the vehicle from rolling. If you want overkill the U.S. Postal Service requires that vehicles be in gear or Park, the park brake set, the wheels curbed and a chock block used every time the vehicle is unattended.

  • +1 for mentioning the front and rear wheels fixation. I also like the reference to the Postal Service, but would you have a link?
    – texnic
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 13:38
  • 1
    Just personal experience I am a postal employee
    – mikes
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:18

The schools teach you to park in neutral to prevent you from causing the car to jerk forward the next time you start it and forget to step on the clutch first. So here goes:

  1. If you don't want to have a minor accident while starting your car because you forgot to step on the clutch, leave it in neutral.
  2. If you want the extra protection of having your front AND rear wheel(s) locked, then leave it in reverse or 1st.

Simple as that. I prefer leaving my car in neutral on a flat surface and I either curb my wheels or at the very least turn them in such a way to cause as little damage to my car as possible if the parking brake fails. But if I'm parked on an incline (And I only do that on very rare occasions for safety reasons), I leave it in gear.

  • +1 for mentioning the risk of an accident. I've actually just almost had it, trying to experiment myself.
    – texnic
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 13:39
  • 1
    How many manual cars allow you to start them without depressing the clutch to the floor? The last 3 manual cars I've had all require the clutch to be on the floor before they'll even threaten to turn over.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 16:50
  • 1
    I have three European cars which allow me to start them without engaging the clutch. They're fairly new too. It's not such a ubiquitous feature as you might think. It's a good feature though. Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 19:45
  • Auto-Trans drivers tend to just use the P for park, manual trans tend to use the handbrake. Pressing the clutch when starting is part of the engine management system to allow fast idling on cold starts without conflicts on several Euro cars. Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 11:28
  • "European cars which allow me to start them without engaging the clutch. " this is just crazy they do not have a clutch safety switch,
    – Moab
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 22:14

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