I'm living in a country where it'so common to push or hit other cars while parking. P position in automatic gearbox creates a solid lock and any push or hit will directly reflect to the gearbox.

Due to this issue leaving car in N position and rely on handbrake sounds safer but; Does this approach have any bad consequences? Additionally, car towing in park position is another concern as well

Note: I read related topics and this specific issue didn't mentioned.

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 22:22
  • Buy a Landrover or similar : most cars avoid touching them... but use the handbrake - that is sufficient when you also turn the wheels to point to the kerb, especially when facing downhill.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 22:51
  • Thanks for your reply but my concern is something else. Downhill, ice, snow or similar conditions needs P under any case and out of my concern. I'm just trying to understand if there are any mechanical issues can occur or not.
    – inovasyon
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 23:23
  • One mechanical issue involves towing autos, some you cannot, others lmited distance, others it is fine : all depends on how the oil pump for the box is driven...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 5:57
  • When you stated « bad issues » you did not say mechanical only...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 6:06

2 Answers 2


Yes, it may have bad consequences.

Some A/T cars don't allow removing the key if the car is not put into P. Having to leave the key into the car sounds like a bad consequence to me: somebody can steal the car.

Others (smart key systems such as my 2016 Toyota RAV4 hybrid) may refuse to turn off the ignition current if the car is not put into P. Thus, if you leave, there is a constant current drain and you may find yourself with a drained battery. This sounds like a really bad consequence to me.

If your car allows turning off the ignition current and removing the key at N, then congratulations! You have purchased a car that is appropriate for the parking culture of your country.

Pushing the car a bit won't lead to any mechanical damage (except perhaps to the bumpers if the pusher is another car), but extended towing may. Not all A/T cars can be towed in the N position; if they can, there may be restrictions such as maximum distance and maximum speed.

  • Thank you. In conclusion, if I can take off the key in N position and car goes in off position as well (no drain). So we can consider it mechanically safe. Did I get it correct?
    – inovasyon
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 11:07
  • Yes, it is mechanically safe then, unless somebody gets the idea to tow your car for extended distances with drive wheels on the ground, without your permission...
    – juhist
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 13:45
  • Towing an automatic car in N with the wheels on the ground can cause damage to the gearbox as most auto boxes require the engine to be running for oil pressure within the box. Commented May 22, 2018 at 9:29

Actually, any substantial movement with the transmission in park will put high loads internal to the transmission. When a car is pushed in a parking situation, it is common for the tires to skid on the pavement. Perhaps not as big of an issue with wet snow and ice, but not good.

I agree with your idea of leaving the transmission in N. However, where a transmission and car interlocks will not permit that, I suggest use P, with the hand/foot/emergency brake fully set. It may not totally protect your transmission, but it will make the vehicle more stiffer on the pavement.

The concern about towing is less of a concern to me. Most tow operators have the knowledge and equipment to deal with transmissions in P.

One final thought...a front/rear dashcam with motion sensing might capture imagery of someone's bumper loving your car. You might consider that option if you have problems like this in your part of town. If visible, it may have a deterrent effect as well. Good luck.

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