Councils in England will be banned from using wheel-clamping to raise funds, under new proposals.
The proposals say that clamped cars should be returned within an hour
A Department for Transport consultation says councils should "not seek to make a surplus" from clamping parked cars.
The proposed guidance, which is part of a parking regulations shake-up, puts a priority on winning public support.
It says the enforcement should be "proportional" to the contravention's seriousness. Wheel-clampers are being urged to target persistent offenders.
The guidance is issued to councils throughout England, based on experience in the capital.
The proposals only to refer to clampers working on behalf of councils and not those operating on private land, who are governed by voluntary recommendations from a trade body.
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said the guidance aims to be "more motorist friendly" for those who do not persistently evade parking charges.
KEY CLAMPING PROPOSALS
Councils banned from using clamping as a money-raising measure
Clamped cars released within an hour of payment
"One illegally-parked car can, and frequently does, cause traffic jams," she said.
"This is exacerbated by some motorists who regularly and deliberately contravene parking regulations.
"These persistent evaders are often not registered, or not correctly registered, on the DVLA database and therefore think that they can get away with not paying any penalty charges.
"We are bringing in quicker clamping and removal times for persistent evaders."
Wheel-clampers are being urged to make vehicles which are suspicious in other ways - such as not having a valid tax disc - a top priority.
The document also advises that: "Wheel-clamping may be brought into disrepute if a local authority permits it for what the public may regard as relatively unimportant contraventions."
It also advises that clamped cars should be released within an hour of payment.
Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Motorists will welcome restrictions on wheel clamping as the punishment rarely fits the crime.
"Clamping is a crude activity, which should have been outlawed at the time of Dick Turpin."
David Sparks, chairman of the Local Government Association's Transport and regeneration board, said many councils across the country are already focusing on persistent offenders.
"Most don't have targets or financial incentives for the number of tickets issued," he said.
"But councils must be allowed to estimate how much money will come from parking fines so that they can undertake good financial planning.
"Money raised from fixed penalty charges is retained locally for funding road maintenance, street lighting and enforcement."