Do you know what a parking pawl is? I didn’t either until I learned that I had to stop forgetting to engage my parking brake. When I park on level surfaces and need to make quick stops, I sometimes forget to do this. I always engage it when I park for extended periods or the night. But I am learning that there is a price to pay for not engaging it every time I park.
The parking pawl keeps the engine’s power from reaching the drivetrain. However, over time, you can damage it if you leave the parking brake, or emergency brake, disengaged. It can cost over $500 to replace a parking pawl. I try to write often about creative ways to get around repair bills. Unlearning bad driving habits that precipitate high repair bills is just as important.
Forgetting to Engage the Parking Brake
You should engage the parking brake, also known as the emergency brake, even time you park your car. Many people don’t ever use it or assume that they don’t need to use it on non-sloping, level streets. The parking brake shares and even out the full weight of your vehicle with the brakes. Your brakes are not parking brakes and aren’t substitutions for them.
Brakes are for slowing down from acceleration. If you only engage the brakes for parking, then you are burdening them with the full weight of your vehicle. They are not designed for that. There is a mechanism in the transmission called the parking pawl, about the size of a finger. When you use the brakes as a parking brake, then the parking pawl assumes the full weight of the vehicle and can become worn down or break over time.
Use the parking brake after you park, every time. You will save wear on your transmission components.
Shifting Between Gears Without Braking
How many times have you shifted between drive and reverse without braking in-between movements? It might be an absentminded habit. Or, laziness. You should unlearn it as soon as possible. Abrupt, directional changes, without engaging the brakes, stresses, wear downs and can damage the drivetrain. Or, the engine or axle system.
Such damage occurs over a long time, so you may not notice such problems until its too late. Brake and come to a full stop before shifting directional changes.
Using the Gear-Stick as a Palm Rest
I get it. It looks and feels cool. You are confident in your driving schools and want to look the part. When driving a manual transmission, you are probably in the habit of driving with your left hand on the wheel while resting your right hand on the gear shifter. This practice goes against the most basic driving rule.
Whether you drive automatic or manual, your hands should rest on the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 o’clock hand positions.
You must always keep situational awareness while driving and may need to make an emergency maneuver in the blink of an eye. There is no reason to cut down on steering response timing by putting the other hand on the wheel. Also, the gear shifter is more sensitive to pressure and movement than you realize.
Using it as a palm rest places undue pressure on various internal components, like the selector fork. Or, the synchronizer or the bushing components within the transmission. This incremental wear and tear may cause the gear shifter to accidentally shift between gears over time, just from the weight of your palm.
Remember that your palm is also supporting the weight of your arm as well as you sit in the driver’s seat. Keep it at 10 and 2 until you need to shift gears.
Bad Habits Aren’t a Driving Skill
Driving is all about using learned behaviors according to the driving conditions you encounter. There is no reason to adopt bad and counterintuitive driving habits. If you don’t get into an accident, it will always cost you in repairs bills in the long run.
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