3 Good Reasons Why You Shouldn't Depend On Your Parking Pawl To Hold Your Car

Ever put your car in park, only to let it roll a little until something finally catches it and brings it to a stop? That "something" happens to be your parking pawl. If you own or have owned a vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission, then you're probably guilty of this at one time or another.

Unfortunately, keeping your vehicle from rolling away isn't the parking pawl's main job. In fact, the parking pawl is intended only as a measure of last resort, and using it on a frequent basis could have some catastrophic effects on your transmission.

#1: Excessive Misuse Can Wear Your Parking Pawl Down

Ordinary wear and tear can cause a wide variety of parts to wear out and fail over time. The same applies to your parking pawl, especially if you misuse it constantly to keep your car in place while parked. Over time, the metal on the actual parking pawl or the teeth on the transmission's output shaft can wear down, causing the pawl to slip off of the output shaft. The linkages on the parking pawl can also weaken, preventing the pawl from grabbing the shaft effectively.

#2: A Broken Pawl Can Do a Number on Your Transmission

There's also a possibility that the parking pawl could snap or fracture, resulting in complete failure of the pawl. In some cases, parking pawl failure can also spread to the rest of the transmission. For instance, broken bits and pieces of metal could migrate to other areas of the transmission, resulting in damage to gears, valves, solenoids and other components.

#3: On a Steep Hill, You Won't Be Able to Get Your Car Out of Park

Once the entire weight of your car rests upon its parking pawl, you might not be able to shift your vehicle out of park without plenty of careful assistance. At best, your transmission could finally shift out of park with a very loud "bang" or "thunk." At worst, you might not be able to move your car without damaging your shift linkages. In some cases, you may have to wait until the vehicle is pushed or towed far enough to take the vehicle's weight off of the pawl.

Instead of relying solely on your car's parking pawl, you may want to practice using your floor-mounted parking brake or emergency brake. It's better than paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to fix transmission issues caused by something as relatively simple as a parking pawl. If you think that your parking pawl or transmission may be suffering, contact a repair company like Transmission Clinic of Colorado sooner rather than later.