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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.

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  • You sure this isn't just the car moaning due to the cold weather? Rubber bushings in the suspension really don't like cold too much. Dec 28, 2017 at 14:10
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 could be true as well, especially for the first creak. However, I'm pretty sure the second creak came from me moving the gear selector from "P" position. There wasn't any weight shift when the second creak occurred.
    – juhist
    Dec 28, 2017 at 14:13
  • If the parking pawl in the hybrid is anything like a regular one, there's nothing there to make noise as you describe. It's usually a ring with teeth in it. Then there's a pin which goes through the teeth. Once set, it's set. The only time I've ever heard it make a noise is when you're still moving and try to put it in park. Then you get the ratta-tatt-tatt as the pin bounces off the pawl until it can go through and set. Dec 28, 2017 at 14:18
  • Could it be the solenoid that is creaking? If it's park by wire, there has to be an additional solenoid, something which a conventional automatic transmission may lack.
    – juhist
    Dec 28, 2017 at 14:47
  • Here is the parking mechanism of Prius: youtube.com/watch?v=BmCgtPijXvQ
    – juhist
    Dec 28, 2017 at 14:57

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