I have recently observed a slight creak in my car which I think comes from the parking pawl in my 2016 Toyota RAV4 hybrid. It doesn't have a conventional automatic transmission, but I still believe the parking mechanism operates in the same way as in a conventional automatic.
Today, when I entered the car which had been standing for 2 days without use in Finnish freezing winter, I observed slight creak as I entered the car. I thought it was either the handbrake or the parking pawl.
When I released the handbrake, I observed no creaking sounds. But when I moved the gear selector away from the "P" position, I heard a second creak. What made me worried is that there was a slight delay in the creak (perhaps half a second), so I think the mechanism to disengage the parking pawl is electrically operated and it struggled to disengage the parking pawl. Thus, I believe both the first creak and the second creak came from the parking pawl.
I drove the car for some time, parking twice (at the grocery store and at the gas station). No creaks heard when the engine was warm and the car was parked. Thus, I believe the creak occurs only when the car is cold and has been parked for a while.
Is this something to worry about?
Edit: Today, I observed the two creaks again, but this time I wanted to make sure if it's really the parking pawl. First creak occurred when I entered the car. Then I released the parking brake and moved the selector from P to R, waited 5 seconds and started to reverse. The second creak occurred when I started to move. This made me reconsider the source of the sound: perhaps it's the parking brake. Today, I have started to park my car without the parking brake alone on the parking pawl. Let's see if the creaks occur when parking brake is not in use.