When at a red light for a prolonged period of time, which leads to a lower amount of wear/lower cost of maintenance over the long term: keeping the brake applied for the duration of the light, or shifting into park?

Bonus: would being on an incline or decline affect this significantly?

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    This is not an answerable question. What specific situation are you describing? Which vehicle? What subsystem of the car are you worried about? Where in the world / what's the climate? – Bob Cross Dec 7 '11 at 2:23

Considerations: The engine spins faster in park... You put more wear and tear on the auto trans linkage assembly by using it more

In park though there is probably a bit less stress on the torque converter in the transmission.

My opinion ... no difference either way.

  • Less engine load in Park too though... – Brian Knoblauch Dec 8 '11 at 14:10

In an automatic, Park should only be for parking. It will probably say this in the user manual.

Applying neutral and the handbrake are recommended by bodies such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists as being safest in the event of a collision, and least likely to dazzle whoever is behind, as @NickC said.

  • I've always heard that the parking pawls can be kind of weak and that you should only shift into park when you really are parking. No evidence to confirm or deny though. – Brian Knoblauch Dec 8 '11 at 14:10

The best solution is to shift into neutral and apply the handbrake. Shifting into park is fairly pointless imho (unless you're actually parking, obviously!), but you should never hold the car on the footbrake when stationary, as this keeps your brake lights on and so dazzles the driver behind you.

  • Except handbrake cables are prone to stretching and breakage if used excessively. – Brian Knoblauch Dec 8 '11 at 14:11
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    which is why they are adjustable... – Nick C Dec 8 '11 at 15:36
  • who cares about dazzles people behind, they should know that vehicle in front is braking – AAI Sep 2 '17 at 1:07

Putting it into neutral isn't good either. Shifting back and forth between neutral and drive can be very bad for the transmission. You have to be more careful also That you Don't apply gas when shifting front N to D. So Just leave it in drive.

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