Will shifting my car to park while stopped at a red light cause any harm (engine, brakes, transmission, etc.) to my car? I do not apply the parking brakes. I have an automatic 2016 Toyota Corolla.

Some background: after my commute distance increased, I developed pain in my right knee. There are many traffic lights in my commute. When stopped at a red light, I began shifting my car into park, thus reducing the stress on my right knee, and the pain went away.

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    I would suggest shifting into neutral and using the parking brake. The main problem i see with shifting to park is you have to shift past reverse, which at the very least will flash your reverse lights, annoying other drivers, and you may mistakenly shift into reverse and hit the gas. Oct 30 '16 at 22:09
  • Thanks, for the advice, everyone. Yes, that's one of the things I fear: shifting into the wrong gear. Oct 31 '16 at 3:27

There would be no significant harm, that I can think of, from shifting into park at traffic lights. If it helps your knee pain, it seems like a good idea. The one potential problem that I can see is adding a bit of stress to every traffic light – you have to come to a complete stop, shift, and then when the light turns shift back into drive (or at least a forward gear). I'd be a little concerned about the focus and potential for misshifts, especially if other drivers are pushy about getting going when the light changes.

Have you considered using your left foot to hold the brake at lights? My mother had polio as a young woman and had trouble moving her right leg from the accelerator pedal to the brake, so she used her left foot to brake (and always drove an automatic).

  • As a result of this, I've learned the patterns of the traffic lights so that I shift out of park at the right time. Using my left foot seems awkward, and this might just move the problem to my left knee. I'll also have to slightly cross my leg over, which may cause additional stress. I've found that keeping my left leg in an awkward position while driving causes pain in my left knee. Oct 31 '16 at 3:43

It won't really increase the wear of anything except the shifter. I personally prefer shifting into neutral and applying the footbrake, but that's not a solution for your right knee problem. I've been doing it for years, everything's fine.

  • I'll try shifting into neutral and applying the parking brake. One issue I see with doing this is that it might be slower than shifting in/out of park. Oct 31 '16 at 3:30
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    Not really. Most automatics let you slide into and out of Neutral without needing to press the shifter button, whereas shifting into and out of Park requires pressing the foot brake and pressing the shifter button. Practice and you can remove the handbrake and slide into drive pretty quick.
    – tlhIngan
    Oct 31 '16 at 3:39
  • When I try this on an incline, my car rolls backwards. Nov 3 '16 at 12:54
  • @user2233706 Your parking brake is supposed to hold the car. The cable may need tightening, or your rear brakes are worn.
    – tlhIngan
    Nov 3 '16 at 18:54
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    I got this car a month ago. I'll talk to the dealer. Nov 3 '16 at 21:05

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