Driving comes with a lot of dos and don’ts. As a learning driver, you might be wondering how to properly secure your car from rolling when it is parked. Some driving schools and instructors fail to pass on this vital knowledge to drivers who pass through them.
In this article, we provide answers to your questions about leaving your manual car in gear when parked.
No, it is not bad to leave a manual car in gear when it is parked. However, before putting your manual car in gear when parked, ensure your car is turned off to avoid the car stalling when you remove your leg from the clutch/brake pedal.
What are the Functions of Gears in a Manual Car?
Every driver should know the purpose of each gear during the learning process. You do not need to cram it and memorize it before you start driving.
Once you start driving, your driving instructor will give you direct instructions and tell you when to use each gear.
However, it is vital for you to know what they are used for and have an idea of the function of each gear in a manual car.
Basically, the function of gear in a manual car is to gain more power (done by changing down gear usually for going up a hill or overtaking) or to reduce the amount of fuel being used (done by changing up a gear to make the engine run at a slower pace).
Now, there are 6 gears in a car, though comes with only 5 gears. My old Peugeot 307 SW comes with 5 gears. We will carefully consider what each gear is used for.
The 1st Gear
The 1st gear is at the topmost left of the gear. It is used to move from a stationary position. This gear is used to arrive at slow speeds such as in a traffic queue. It is also used to maneuver while parking.
The 2nd Gear
The 2nd gear is used to gain speed for the car from the 1st gear. When you are making turns (right and left) on one road to another road, you will need to use the 2nd gear. Also, this gear is used to move from a stationary position on a steep platform.
The 3rd Gear
Moving on, the 3rd gear is used to gain speed for the car from the 2nd gear. You will need to use the 3rd gear when you want to change down from a higher gear to a lower gear (for example, engine breaking to help the vehicle slow down).
It is also used to change down from a higher gear in order to gain greater power (for climbing up) or for overtaking.
The 4th Gear
The 4th gear is the leftmost gear at the bottom. It is used to gain speed after moving from the 3rd gear. You will use this gear when you want to drive around localities and places with a maximum speed of 30 mph.
You will also need to use the 4th gear when you want to gain a little acceleration by changing down from the 5th or 6th gear.
Essentially, the 4th gear is used to change down from a higher gear to assist the car is slowing down.
The 5th and 6th Gear
The 5th and 6th manual transmission gears are mainly used for driving at very high speeds, usually on expressways and dual carriageways.
A long time ago, cars only had 4 forward gears. The 5th gear was developed to be a gear used to reduce fuel consumption.
Many cars also have the 6th gear nowadays. Having more gears basically improves the overall fuel economy of the car. These gears are used to cruise at very high speeds to reduce the fuel that is consumed by the car.
The Reverse Gear
As the name implies, the function of this gear is to help the car move in a backward position. It is used to reverse.
With this brief explanation, the functions of the gears in a manual car should be clear to any learner driver.
Should You Leave Your Manual Car in Gear When Parked?
Leaving your manual car in gear when it is parked adds some level of safety that prevents it from rolling in that position.
How does this work? When you leave your parked car in neutral, the engine is disconnected from the wheels and any form of rolling will be extremely difficult.
When parking your car on a level platform, it is advised that you leave the car in gear. Although, many cars are now reliable that the parking brake alone is enough to ensure the safety of the car.
Is it Bad to Leave a Manual Car in Gear When Parked?
There are a lot of debates regarding the pros and cons of leaving your manual car in gear when it is parked. I will talk about a few of the disadvantages of leaving your manual car in gear when it is parked.
Parking your manual car in gear can be a problem if there is an underlying fault with the engine. If you park in that way and force is applied to it from behind, it might roll if the wheels are not blocked and the force of the pistons is overcome.
So, many people advise that you ensure that the parking brake is actively functioning and pressed down so as to completely stop the rear wheels from moving even if force is applied to it from behind.
Worthy of mention is the fact that when your car is parked in gear if someone hits it from behind, damage can be caused to the transmission of the car.
Also, if your manual car uses a timing belt that is driven by a belt instead of a chain, the rollers of the timing bet will wear out with time if you park it in gear regularly.
Pros of Leaving your Manual Car in Gear when Parked
Many people prefer to leave their manual car in gear when it is parked despite what people tell them in driving schools.
I think the most impressive benefit of leaving your manual car in gear when it is parked in that the temperatures will drop far below the freezing point in cold seasons.
As you probably know, making use of the handbrakes at low temperatures when it has been parked for a very long time will do damage to the brake pads of the car.
Damage in the sense that they can get frozen and the engine might have other problems as well. Therefore, it is not recommended that you use the handbrake in the winter season. If you need to park for long periods, leave it parked in gear.
Moving on, another advantage of leaving your manual car in gear when parked is that it protects the handbrake. The handbrake is a normal vehicle part. The more you use it, the more it wears out.
You should park your car in gear to help it stay still and not move at all if your parking brake has worn out or is faulty generally.
Will Leaving your Manual Car in Gear When Parked Ruin Clutch?
No, leaving your manual car in gear when it is parked will not ruin the clutch. The only thing talk about regarding this is that if you forget to press the clutch down before starting, while your manual car is parked in gear, the car may jolt forwards as you try to start it.
So, to avoid this situation, always press on the clutch and check the gears before you start the engine. Parking your manual transmission car in gear is never a problem, I’ve owned one and I do park it in gear alongside the handbrake and never had it ruin my clutch.
Summing it up, there are benefits and a few disadvantages of leaving your manual car in gear when it is parked. Each of the gears in a manual car has its functions and what they are used for.
You can leave your manual car in gear when it is parked to secure it against rolling and if you are driving an automatic car, all you have to do is simply put the gear in P.