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I have a Toyota Etios Liva, about 1 year and 3 months old. I do not know driving, and have learnt about car operations from the manual given with cars. As a result, I am often fooled by drivers.

Today, my car has been out in the rains. While keeping it in the garage, should I set the hand brake, or keep it in gear, so that it doesn't move forward by itself? Many drivers had told me that if hand brake is set on a car which had been in the rains, then the hand brake cannot be released due to it getting stuck to brake shoe or something like that. But I have found no evidence of this in any manual. Is this true?

Moreover, is it at all good to keep a car in gear other than neutral when it's in garage? Many drivers say it's absolutely fine, but are they true?

Please help me regarding these. I am fond of my car, but as I don't know how to drive, I need your opinion regarding this.

The car is a petrol one. And this is in Kolkata, India.

  • Basu, how old is your car? – Numair Aidroos Jul 1 '17 at 22:54
  • 1 year 3 months – Wrichik Basu Jul 2 '17 at 2:58
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    For this age, don't do anything. All the answers are irrelevant. Only stick to Toyota for any service and future repairs. They'll do their job. Nothing is wrong with your car, don't do anything extra. – Numair Aidroos Jul 2 '17 at 6:50
  • Yes, I depend on Toyota authorised service centre for all repairs. No local parts. – Wrichik Basu Jul 2 '17 at 16:22
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If the handbrake sticks on after the car has been in the rain, you need to get the brakes serviced. One reason would be that the rear brake drums are corroded. This should not happen. My car (in the UK) has kept outside all the time, in all types of weather, for nearly 10 years, and the brakes never stick.

Even if the brakes do "stick", they usually free themselves within the first few yards that you drive, so it doesn't really matter.

Leaving the car in gear is OK, except that you risk forgetting the car is in gear when you try to start the engine, and hitting the garage wall! Note, some cars have an electronic lock which prevents you starting the engine with the car in gear, but older cars often do not.

Personally, I would never leave the car in gear except perhaps in a situation where I was parked on a very steep hill, for example on a gradient of 25% (1 in 4) or steeper, because there is no need. If the handbrake will not hold the car reliably even in that situation, again you need to get the brakes serviced.

If I ever do leave the car in gear, I usually put something like a cloth or a bag over the gearstick, to remind me when I get back into the car.

To contradict the previous answer and comments, you should NEVER put anything like oil, grease, anti-seize, WD-40, etc on the brake drums or brake shoes. It may stop the brakes from sticking, but it will reduce the efficiency of the brakes. If you get into an emergency situation, that reduction in braking efficiency might kill you. Having a sticking handbrake is better than being dead!

  • OK, then if I set the hand brake (which I prefer over gear) in any season, it will do nothing bad, right? – Wrichik Basu Jul 2 '17 at 3:02
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    It would not do anything bad. Your car has drum brakes in the rear. – Numair Aidroos Jul 2 '17 at 6:54
  • @NumairAidroos so, are the hand brakes applied to front wheels? – Wrichik Basu Jul 2 '17 at 10:34
  • Always rear wheels. – Numair Aidroos Jul 2 '17 at 12:50
  • Best practice when starting engines with a manual transmission is to place the transmission in neutral, and hold the clutch in when cranking. Doing so has obvious safety benefits, and also reduces the load on the starter, as it has to get less mass rotating. – mongo Jul 2 '17 at 15:24
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There are several schools of thought, which I will overview first, and then give you a recommendation.

One school is to leave it in gear, and avoid using the parking brake, as they tend to stick and rust. I subscribe to that, but then I spent allot of time near Buffalo, New York, where if there isn't snow, there is salt on the road. The downside of leaving it in gear, especially on hills, is that it puts stress on the engine mounts.

The other school is to always set the parking brake. In doing so, you make certain that it works, and frees up each time when released. Actually, this approach is the one that the car manufacturers recommend. If your brakes are sticking, get things fixed, because that is not right. When they are set and released, it tends to keep corrosion from building. At least here, the biggest problem area is brake cables, rather than shoes / drums or pad / rotors sticking.

There is another reason to always set the parking brake, and in many cars, setting the brake is part of adjusting the calipers as the brake pads wear.

So for all these reasons, I recommend that you set the parking brake when you park the car. If you want to leave it in gear, that will not cause any adverse effect.

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    At least the manual of my RAV4 hybrid recommends that during winter, one should avoid using the parking brake and set only the gear selector to the park position, activating the parking pawl. The rationale is that the parking brake may freeze up. I suspect this advice applies to quite many cars. – juhist Jul 2 '17 at 20:06
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    The Etios manual does not say that. – mongo Jul 2 '17 at 23:04
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I am using the polo vw. once I have face this problem in rainy season. one of the back wheel is jam due to hand brake for 1 week. I called the mechanic he open the wheel and hit the drum gently 2 to 3 times and brake get unlock... I talked to car service center they suggest me to keep car in gear when park in rainy season.....

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putting the car in gear and pushing up the parking brake simultaneously does not cause any harm in fact it's an additional saftey,some times when rear brake shoes or drums are worn or are out of adjustment and when you pull up your e-brake they don't grip completely and as a result if your car is standing on the hill it will slowly start to roll so putting the car in gear ensures that your car is not going anywhere it's wheels are completely locked other than that if your parking brake mechanism is in sound condition than pulling up the e-brake alone is fine there is really nothing to worry about.and as for the sticking hand brake or parking brake lever it usually happens when the release mechanism gets rusted than some times it becomes difficult to release the hand brake for that problem you can either use wd-40 or used engine oil to lubricate the releasing mechanism .

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    Used engine oil is not a safe option - grease or copper slip is more suitable. – Solar Mike Jul 1 '17 at 21:23
  • @solar Mike, greese and anti seize do not share the same properties. Please be certain when you're advising with claimed authority. Greese is very difficult to compress and anti seize does easily. They are not used for the same operation. – Numair Aidroos Jul 1 '17 at 22:59
  • Don't use greese... but could you explain how you compress copper slip? – Solar Mike Jul 2 '17 at 5:35
  • First you make incorrect recommendations, second you attack the other guy, third you don't even understand when to you what? Where compression is required anti seize is allowed in high compression zones as it withstands it. Where compression handling is not an issue greese is used. But then again. You just enjoy arguing. I'm not here to correct you. I just don't want a Toyota to be destroyed cause you made an incorrect recommendation – Numair Aidroos Jul 2 '17 at 7:01
  • @NumairAidroos - If you have a better answer, please provide it. Comments are really not the place for this. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 2 '17 at 21:16

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