When to engage or not engage the parking brake

Thursday October 29 2020
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By Paul Kaganzi

Hello Paul, I drive a Honda CRV RD1 1999 model with a five-manual Transmission. I have its owner’s manual and I have read it cover to cover. The manufacturer says if you park the car for long periods (say a month with no use), you should not use the parking brake, but with reverse gear engaged. On three occasions, I have followed the manufacturer recommendations but on all occasions (after three weeks, two months and three months), the car’s clutch pedal had ‘gone down.’ I had to engage a mechanic to reverse the process. On the latest occasion, I went against the manufacturer’s manual and on retuning, the clutch was working normally. Why? Simon Peter  

Hello Simon Peter, with all due respect, I think you misinterpreted the instructions in the user manual. Honda actually recommends that you engage the parking brake (hand brake) every time you park your CRV with a manual transmission. 

However, for additional safety, when you park facing an incline, in addition to engaging the parking brake, you ought to engage the gear number. 
The reverse is true if you park on an incline facing downwards. Engage both the parking brake and reverse gear to help secure the vehicle. 

When parked on a flat surface, the parking brake alone is enough. Parking your car and securing it with the reverse gear puts an unnecessary toll on the gearbox. Read the instructions again in the user manual on page 387, where it states: “Always use the parking brake when you park your vehicle.

Make sure the parking brake is set firmly, or your vehicle may roll if it is parked on an incline. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, set the parking brake before you put the transmission in park. This keeps the vehicle from moving and putting pressure on the parking mechanism in the transmission”.  

If the vehicle is facing uphill, turn the front wheels away from the curb. If you have a manual transmission, put it in first gear. If the vehicle is facing downhill, turn the front wheels toward the curb. If you have a manual transmission, put it in reverse gear. Make sure the parking brake is fully released before driving away.  Driving with the parking brake partially set can overheat or damage the rear brakes.

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