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We've all been there, waiting on a train at a railroad crossing, or stuck in a traffic jam that doesn't appear to be going anywhere for awhile. Well transmissions are designed to my understanding for you to go, much more so then to stay the brakes at a stop. So during times of prolonged stopping, should you put your car in park to prevent transmission from overheating or is this really not necessary in modern cars?

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    I'm assuming this is referring to an automatic transmission. It would probably be a good idea to know the year and make of the car. Some newer automatics are not really automatics at all with the old-style torque converters, etc. Some of the new automatics are really dual clutch standards where the computer will actually put them into neutral when you are stepping on the brake. – mark b Jul 4 at 19:10
  • If you're stopped long enough to consider this, why is the vehicle idling in the first place? A modern car will run the AC without the engine running (or you can enjoy the breeze), and minutes of idling is a waste of gas IMO – Brydon Gibson Jul 4 at 19:16
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    Well Brydon, you are not idling for the sake of idling, you are waiting for a train to pass or stuck in a traffic jam. – Travis Jul 4 at 19:30
  • I’m pretty sure there is no risk of overheating, but putting the transmission in neutral or park will decrease the load on the engine and therefore make it waste less fuel while stationary, – HandyHowie Jul 4 at 21:06
  • If you're planning on shifting to Park for extended stops (e.g. railroad crossing, double-parked waiting for a passenger to enter, etc) use Neutral instead. Park may be an invitation to remove your foot from the brake and you want cars approaching from the rear to see your brake lights. – Jeeped Dec 4 at 3:01
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The transmission will get hotter if it is working at maximum, such as towing a trailer uphill, that will be when the transmission cooling system will be needing to work at maximum and, if the cooling air flow is dirty or obstructed, when the problems will occur.

But using park or neutral will take the load off the drive train in the box and reduce the fuel consumption a small amount.

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