Engage Parking Brake Before Or After Park? Safety Guide

When it comes to parking a car, many drivers wonder about the proper use of the parking brake. Should you engage it before or after shifting into park? Experts agree that one method for parking your car is safer than the other despite ongoing debates and misconceptions. 

This article will help you determine which method is the safest if you’re unsure. Furthermore, we’ll debunk common misconceptions and stress the significance of correctly using and maintaining your parking brake to ensure maximum safety.

Here’s the quick answer: It is recommended to engage the parking brake before shifting into park. This ensures that the weight of the car is safely secured by both the transmission and the parking brake, preventing any accidental movement.

Engage Parking Brake Before Or After Park

Engage parking brake before or after park? A Detailed Explanation 

So what is the correct order? It may surprise you, but the answer is simple – you should engage your parking brake before shifting into park. 

Why? In most vehicles, the parking mechanism is linked to the rear wheels. When you shift your vehicle into park, the transmission becomes firmly fixed in place. However, it’s important to note that this only impacts the front wheels. If you fail to engage your parking brake before shifting into park, all of the weight of your car rests on a small metal pawl which holds up under normal conditions but might fail sometimes.

Engaging your parking brake is like adding an extra layer of security to prevent your car from rolling away. If the pawl fails or becomes dislodged, your parking brake will keep your vehicle in place.

Using both methods at the same time adds even more protection. Even if one method fails under extreme circumstances, hopefully, the other will be strong enough to hold the weight of your car.

So please don’t take chances with your safety or those around you. Always remember to engage your parking brake first before shifting into park. Your wallet (from expensive repairs) and passengers will thank you!

Misconceptions about using Parking Brake  

Now that we’ve cleared up the correct way to use your parking brake let’s address some common misconceptions about its use.

Misconception 1: “I Don’t Need To Use Both Methods”

Some drivers think that engaging the parking brake is unnecessary if they are parked on level ground. Wrong! Always use both methods, even on flat surfaces. The parking brake isn’t just for hills; it’s a safety feature designed to keep your car from accidentally rolling away regardless of the surface type.

Misconception 2: “It Depends On My Car’s Transmission/Drivetrain Type”

Another common misconception is that using the parking brake is only necessary for vehicles with certain types of transmissions or drivetrains. Not true! Regardless of whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, using your parking brake is essential for protecting yourself and others from accidents.

Misconception 3: “I Don’t Need To Engage It During Specific Situations Or On Certain Roads” 

Lastly, some drivers make assumptions about when and where to use their parking brakes based on location and environmental factors. For example, they may assume that they don’t need to use their parking brakes in a quiet neighborhood or when parked inside a garage. Wrong again! You should always engage your parking brake no matter where you park.

Importance and Maintenance of Parking Brake 

After covering the correct order for engaging your parking brake, it is crucial to discuss the significance of its maintenance and other factors that could influence its efficiency.

First and foremost, the parking brake is a crucial part of your vehicle’s safety system. It is designed to prevent your car from rolling away while parked, which can be especially critical when parked on inclines or hillsides . In fact Parking brakes can mitigate collisions,damaging properties or injuring people. Therefore, always make sure you’re using it! 

However, like any other part of your car, the parking brake can wear down or malfunction over time. So it’s essential to have it regularly inspected by a professional mechanic as part of routine maintenance checks. Additionally, periodic lubrication should be given to the cables and the pivot points located under the car.

Other factors that may affect your parking brake’s performance include weather conditions and driving style. Extreme cold or hot temperatures may cause parts to expand or contract leading to glitches with the mechanism. Driving frequently in traffic or on rough roads may also take a toll on your parking brake, so don’t ignore little signs like odd noises  from the mechanism

Here’s a list of factors you need to consider for proper maintenance:

  1. Regular inspection by professionals: This means taking your vehicle for routine check-ups by certified mechanics who can identify any underlying issues that may lead to bigger problems in the future.
  2. Periodic application of lubricant: Keep your vehicle running smoothly by applying lubricants such as engine oil and transmission fluid at regular intervals.
  3. Awareness of weather conditions: Make sure to weatherproof your vehicle according to the season – whether it’s getting it ready for snowy conditions or protecting it from harsh sunlight during those summer road trips.
  4. Be cautious about noise levels during hill starts: When starting on a hill, be attentive to the sound of your engine. If it sounds like it’s struggling or making unusual noises, disengage and try again.
  5. Avoid harsh stops, especially if terrain is steep: When driving through hilly areas, be mindful of stopping suddenly or applying sudden brakes as this may put undue strain on your vehicle’s engine and brakes.

Knowing these little things will help keep you safe on the road, also saving some serious damage costs in case something goes wrong.


In conclusion, engaging your parking brake before shifting into park is crucial for the safety of you, your passengers, and those around you. Don’t fall prey to common misconceptions – always use both methods of braking and never assume that certain surfaces or situations don’t require it. 

To keep yourself safe on the road and avoid costly repairs later, you should take care of your parking brake. This means getting it checked regularly, using lubrication, and paying attention to things like weather and how you drive.

So next time you park, engage that parking brake first and pat yourself on the back for being a responsible driver!

Similar Posts