Dear Car Talk:
Lately, when my husband is behind the wheel, a couple of his habits have been driving me nuts (as a retiree, I have nothing else to think about when we’re on the road). My husband puts the car in park, turns off the engine and then removes his foot from the brake. Then the car will roll slightly until the transmission is locked into place. Whereas I put the car in park, take my foot off the brake to engage the transmission and then turn off the engine. I think his way needlessly crunches the gears. He says either way is the same. Is there a correct way to turn off a car? Also, he will — albeit gently — bump into the concrete barrier at the end of a parking space before stopping. I stop before running into the barrier. Again, he says it doesn’t matter. Is there a right or wrong call on this issue? According to my husband’s opinion of my car knowledge, it is beyond reason that I am doing things correctly and he is not. However, I promise to let him read your response, even if it proves that he’s been right all along. — Sandy
Oh, Sandy, you must be Fred’s wife. I got a letter from him last week complaining about your driving.
The truth is, neither one of you is doing anything terribly wrong.
When turning off the car, I actually recommend that you put the car in park, then apply the parking brake. And then take your foot off the brake pedal and turn off the ignition. That keeps the car from rolling those few inches while the transmission engages the parking pawl. Letting it roll until the parking pawl engages really isn’t harmful, but if you park on a steep enough hill, it sometimes can be hard to get the car out of park when you want to drive away. If you start the car, put it in gear and then release the parking brake, you’ll never have that problem. So let’s call that one even, and maybe you both can adopt this new habit.
I can see how banging into the concrete curbstone can be annoying, but at very low speed, it also isn’t doing any real damage — no more than going over a small bump, which the car can easily handle.
But because you have better spatial awareness than Fred does, you’re able to stop the car short of the curbstone and spare him from bouncing forward in his seat. We prefer your way, but your husband is not harming the car by touching the curbstone.
I think the real solution, Sandy, is for you to tune out more while Fred is driving. I’m going to suggest that you look into meditation. And podcasts.
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