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How should I park on a steep driveway?


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Hey everyone I have a 2017 Mazda Miata with a standard transmission and I was wondering how should I park the car on my steep driveway? Should I leave the car in gear? Should I just pull the emergency brake? Or, should I do both?


10 Answers



Both. And turn steering wheel in left or right.


Always use both, in 1st gear and parking break.

I suppose you park uphill

Eek the parking what, doc??

Ya got me MMJoe! I hoped somebody would notice.


Both.  In fact in the last quarter of a century I have been driving, I’ve always done it that way - even on flat ground.


uhhh... wasn't that part of your driver testing? If you forget, go to your state DMV website, download the handbook and read it again.


It should be in gear (reverse if faced downhills), wheels turned into the curb (off to the side if there isn't one). Parking brake set on an incline.

Never had to take a written test and my actual test was in an automatic

really? where the heck do they let people start driving without a knowledge test?
Auto or manual doesn't matter, it should all be in the manuals (both your regional driving manual and operating manual for your vehicle)

in texas, i believe it used to be required to have a written and physical driving test; however, when i got my license it was only a physical test. as for the manuals i have only read the regional driving manual for knowing the laws of driving and the only thing i remember about parking is turning the wheel towards the curb when parking on a slanted surface and i only read the owners manual for the car for maintenance and if i don't know what a button does.


Definitely both. Scary to think some people still pick one or the other. 

If on a really steep hill you'd also want to turn your wheels into the curb if possible.


100% both. Heck, I do both all the time on my manual transmission. Just to get into the habit. 

And to my understanding, using the parking brake even on an automatic, can help alleviate some of the stress placed in the transmission to keep the car in place.

FWIW, in some foreign countries that have more manual transmissions than automatic, it’s also a thing to chock at least one wheel on steep hills.  


If you back into the driveway, I would recommend putting your stick in the Reverse position. And set the parking brake. Sometimes they pop out of gear into Neutral so setting the parking brake is essential. And hope that your parking brake is in good working order.

Useful only if you park downhill

On some manual trans cars you cannot remove the key unless the stick shift is left in Reverse, regardless of whether parked uphill or downhill.

@chucktobias fortunately I have never driven cars with that nonsense. Is it possible to shift in 1st after the key is taken out?


Especially for CVTs but I now do with ALL my transmissions (even on flat surfaces), I put the car in neutral and then engage the parking brake.  I release the foot brake and let the car "settle."  Then I engage the car in Park. With automatic transmissions, there's no leaving it in gear and using the engine to brake without key release issues 🙁


I'll turn the wheels on any incline too, even without a curb, to keep the car from going into a building or strait into a street.

This post was modified 5 days ago by FutureSoCalEscapee

It is interesting to note that the laws are different depending on what state you live in.  When I lived in California (please don't remind me) if you parked facing uphill, you are supposed to turn your wheels away from the curb, but if you're in Hawaii, you're supposed to turn your wheels toward the curb, the theory being that the vehicle will move backwards and jamb it's rear wheel into the curb, thus stopping the vehicle.  Like the song said "You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave."

it would seem to me that if you turned towards the curb, the weight of the entire vehicle would make it more likely for the rear wheels to CLIMB the curb instead of jam it. Those Hawaiians are breathing too many volcanic fumes. LoL

That is why they were sometimes referred to as "Back a book." I agree, but I flunked my driving test because of it, and had to take it again.  Volcanic fumes weren't the only thing they are breathing, if you know what I mean.