Driving up and downhill can make new drivers feel nervous at first. But get the theory clear in your head and you’ll feel confident on the road.

Where should you practise this?

Start on a quiet street with a gentle slope. When you get more confident, move on to a steeper hill for more practice.

Driving uphill

  • You’ll need to use a lower gear and more accelerator to keep at a constant speed than you would when driving on the flat.
  • Keep your revs up when changing gear while driving uphill.

Driving downhill

  • You’ll need to brake sooner and harder than you would on the flat when you want to come to a stop.
  • Choosing a lower gear will also help to slow your car down.

Parking on hills

  • Angle your front wheels towards the kerb. Facing downhill this means turning the steering wheel to the left, or facing uphill to the right.

Doing a hill start facing uphill

Follow these steps when starting uphill:

  1. Check that you’re in 1st gear.
  2. Pull the handbrake up a bit and press the release button.
  3. Hold the handbrake up so it’s still engaged.
  4. Let the clutch out a little until you can feel it ‘bite’, then push it back in slightly to steady the car.
  5. Push down on the accelerator. Remember that you’ll need more accelerator than when you start the car on the flat.
  6. Gently release the handbrake. If you start to roll back, pull the handbrake on again and use the foot pedals to find the right level of control.
  7. When you’ve got that steady control, then indicate, check your mirrors and look over your shoulder.
  8. Is it clear? If it is, smoothly push down on the accelerator some more and let the clutch out and pull away.

If your indicator is on the left side of the steering wheel, indicate before you use the handbrake. This leaves your left hand free to control the handbrake as you take off.

Doing a hill start facing downhill

Hill starts are a little easier when facing downhill than uphill, as gravity is working with you. It’s still a hill start however, and there are some specific steps to follow:

  1. Press down on the footbrake.
  2. Check that you’re in 1st gear.
  3. Slowly release the handbrake.
  4. Let the footbrake up a little, and release the clutch at the same time. You might need to apply a bit of accelerator here if you feel that the car wants to stall.
  5. Indicate right (if you’re pulling out from the kerb), check your mirrors and look over your shoulder.
  6. Is it clear? If it is, use as much or as little accelerator as you need to move at a safe speed. It will depend on the steepness of the hill and your car.

Are you test ready?


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