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Simon Jones white clock learner driver3 minute read Guides Learner Drivers

How to do a hill start without stalling or rolling back

Do you dread hill starts with a passion? It’s a tricky one that gets drivers in a panic, but we’ve got the full guide to help your hill start adventures.

Simon Jones

Mastering the hill start can take a lot of practice to perfect, but when you’ve got to grips with the clutch biting point and how much rev your engine needs, you’ll be okay. Plus the handbrake. Can’t forget the handbrake.

Before you read this guide, consider learner driver insurance, by doing this it can give you nearly unlimited tries at hill starting so you can finally nail it with your instructor or during your test 

How to do a hill start 

If you follow these steps for your hill start, you’ll be hill start handy in no time. 

1. Put the car in first gear 

Keep the handbrake on and get yourself into first gear so you’re ready for a powerful take off. Remember, you’re going against gravity so you need that oomph. 

2. Press the accelerator 

You want to make sure you rev enough so that you don’t stall, but don’t push too hard on the accelerator that you suddenly jerk and shoot up the hill. 

3. Find the biting point 

Get your revs up slowly and start to find the biting point. Don’t overdo it or your car will stall and you’ll have to start again. Keep your left foot still when you’ve found it. 

4. Mirrors, signal, manoeuvre 

With all the adrenaline, don’t forget your usual MSM moves before you head off. Release the handbrake when it’s all clear and don’t lift your foot off the clutch too quickly, nice and slow does it.  

5. Build momentum 

Let your clutch come up all the way slowly as you speed up, and you’re off. You did it. Success. Check out our articles on how to reverse park into a bay and parallel park if you’re up for more tips on other tricky bits. 

How do you hill start without stalling? 

We’ve all been there. It’s usually because you’ve let the clutch up too fast or your engine hasn’t been revved up enough before you take off.  

To help you out, if you feel it judder, press your clutch and brake fully down and try again. You can use the handbrake too. If your car completely cuts out, then you should use your hand brake to hold the car steady, turn the engine back on and have another go.  

Everyone does it, it’s just about how you deal with it. Stay calm and just focus on getting up and running again – you’ve got this.  

Some cars have an automatic handbrake-release, but not all do and you can stall your engine if you try to move with the handbrake still down. Handbrake, handbrake, handbrake. See a pattern yet? 

How many revs do you need for a hill start? 

Your car’s going upwards so needs more power. Usually youll set the revs to around the 2000 mark, but if it’s less steep you’ll need less power and if it’s super steep you’ll need to go higher on your rev count. Don’t overthink this or you’ll keep staring at the rev counter and forget about the road, but have it in your head as a reminder. 

What is hill start assist? 

Nowadays, cars get savvier and savvier by the minute. Life is getting easier, or more complex, however you want to look at it. Some cars offer a helping hand for hill starts 

With Hill start assist, if you take your foot off the brake the car will stay in place to let you find the biting point in time and go on your way. It holds you for a few seconds though so you need to get on with it before you start rolling back. 

Nifty, eh? Remember – not all cars. Check before you try yours. 

Downhill start 

You might actually have to start down a hill instead of up, and this time, gravity’s your friend. You need to make sure you don’t roll down too fast, so you’ll need to keep your foot on the brake while you find the biting point first. You also probably don’t need to rev as much, otherwise you’ll be flying down. 

The rest is pretty much the same as an uphill start, but if you’re on a very steep hill, you might want to try starting off in second gear instead of first. 

How to hill start in an automatic 

Okay time to get jealous if you have a manual, because automatic cars don’t stall. Yes you heard it right. Hill starts in automatic cars are obviously much easier then, but you’ll still need to use the handbrake and get your MSM moves in. 

An automatic car probably won’t roll back if it’s on a slight hill without the handbrake, but it might if it’s a steep hill so it’s important to always remember like we said – handbrake, handbrake, handbrake, no matter what.  

If you’re still deciding which car to get, our article on the cheapest way to buy a car might help you out. 

Do you have to do a hill start on your driving test? 

It depends where your driving test centre is, but usually if there are any hills near it, then yes.  

It’s a great way to get brownie points during your test anyway, because doing a hill start right can show examiners that you have great control of the car.        

If you have to do a hill start on your driving test, the examiner will expect you to: 

  1. Drive off safely in a controlled way
  2. Do the mirrors, signal manoeuvre routine 
  3. Check your blind spot 
  4. Use the right gear 
  5. Avoid rolling back 

Is rolling back a driving test fail? 

If you roll back very slightly, it might not be counted as a driving test fault, but you should avoid it as much as possible to guarantee a pass. If you feel hill start comfy, you might be ready to book your practical driving test. Check out our article to find out if you’re ready for your driving test. 

But if you’re not so sure and still learning to drive, it may be a good idea to get some extra private practice in a friend or family member’s car. We might be able to help you out with learner driver insurance  from 2 hrs up to 180 daysso you can make sure you’ve got your hill starts on check. Nice. 

Simon Jones

Worked for short-term car insurance provider Veygo for over 3 years. Been involved in building insurance products for learner drivers and people looking for temporary cover on cars, then telling the world about them through marketing campaigns. Also drive a bit myself, mainly my son around where ever he needs to go.

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