6 ways to drive uphill

6 ways to drive uphill
6 ways to drive uphill

Driving uphill is not always easy, especially when the slope is steep. With a vehicle having a manual gearbox, the maneuver is sometimes complicated for beginners, you risk stalling or reversing. The secret when going uphill is to be at the right speed, which means you have to downshift compared to driving on level ground. It is the same with an automatic gearbox, you will have to choose the right gear for the ascent, as for the descent. In addition to driving, you will have to learn how to park and start on a hill. These three maneuvers are learned over time and eventually become automatic.


Method 1 of 6: Downshift with a manual transmission

Drive Uphill Step 1

Step 1. Accelerate as you approach the slope

Of course, it is not a question of exceeding the authorized speed. Accelerate gradually as you approach a hill, which will allow you to benefit from the car's momentum. However, you will make sure to respect the speed limits.

The acceleration will be gradual, smooth. Also be careful on slippery roads

Security Council:

the authorized speed may still prove to be too high, for example, in the event of slippery roads. Thus, a legal speed of 80 km / h must be lowered to 60, or even 40 km / h, in the event of bad road conditions.

Drive Uphill Step 2

Step 2. Disengage and downshift

Depress the clutch pedal, take your foot off the accelerator and downshift one or two gears. When you take your foot off the accelerator, the tachometer drops, this is a sign that you have to downshift to adapt the engine speed. The time to downshift depends on the vehicle you are driving. Do not hesitate to consult the manufacturer's booklet on this subject.

On classic sedans, the best time to downshift for the third is around 2,500 or 3,000 rpm, i.e. a speed of 70 to 100 km / h (this varies a lot depending on the engines), and the shift in seconds should be around 2,000 rpm, ie a speed of 40 to 60 km / h

Drive Uphill Step 3

Step 3. Engage while accelerating

After downshifting, take your foot off the clutch pedal while accelerating, both movements are at the same speed. The revs will drop further, because it adapts to the speed, all you have to do is accelerate frankly according to the desired speed.

Drive Uphill Step 4

Step 4. In the event of a steep climb, switch to second, or even first

If you're tackling a steep incline or driving a heavy vehicle, be prepared to shift to second or even first. The passage will be done from the first meters of the climb. If you stay in third, you will quickly realize that the engine will give up: you will not be able to climb like this.

Downshift into first gear when the vehicle is almost stationary (5 to 10 km / h)

Drive Uphill Step 5

Step 5. Downgrade in time

When the road starts to climb and you lose speed, you are not at the right speed. Staying, for example, in third is only valid if the slope is low and regular. As soon as you see that you are no longer moving and that the engine is about to stall, disengage, shift into second, then accelerate while in the clutch.

If the engine is still struggling after downshifting, the slope is steeper than expected, you must downshift again, first this time

Method 2 of 6: Downshift with an automatic transmission

Drive Uphill Step 6

Step 1. Accelerate a bit as you approach a climb

It is obviously forbidden to exceed the authorized speed in this place. Press the accelerator pedal a little more in order to take advantage of the acceleration in the first part of the rise, which will allow you to keep a time, thanks to the inertia, the same speed.

In the event of poor driving conditions, consider whether to accelerate. On a wet or icy road, it is dangerous to accelerate suddenly and drive fast

Drive Uphill Step 7

Step 2. Shift down when approaching a steep hill

You will also do this when approaching a moderate slope, if you are driving a heavy vehicle or if you are towing a trailer. Downshifting on an automatic gearbox is not as imperative as with a manual gearbox, but changing the lever will allow you to better control your speed, and therefore your vehicle.

The principle of the automatic transmission is that the gears of the gearbox move by themselves to keep the engine at an average speed: the gearbox adapts when climbing. However, on a fairly steep road, it is preferable to set the lever to 2, whether going uphill or downhill. On a very steep road, gear 1 should be engaged


the speed markings on the console change from one brand to another. The specific speeds, for inclines, are the opposite of the park and reverse positions. You will find markings like D, D1 (1) and D2 (2). Sometimes an L position is marked, it is that of low speeds.

Drive Uphill Step 8

Step 3. Release the accelerator pedal, then move to D2

To shift to such a speed, take your foot off the accelerator, then remembering to press the side engagement button, shift to D2 (or 2). If the engine is running at 4000 or 4500 RPM, wait for it to drop below 3000 RPM, shift gear, then accelerate to your cruising speed.

Don't worry about a premature downshift. If the engine runs too fast, you will not be able to shift gear, there is a synchronizer that prevents such a maneuver. Wait quietly for the engine speed to drop below 3000 rpm

Drive Uphill Step 9

Step 4. If there is a very steep incline, go first

If, even in seconds, you feel that the engine is struggling to drive the car and that the speed drops below 25 km / h, shift to D1 (or 1). Take your foot off the accelerator, shift to D1 or 1, then gradually accelerate to advance normally on the slope.

On some recent models, there is even a button that delivers more power, which is very useful in mountainous areas: all you have to do is press it, a warning light comes on on the dashboard. It disengages automatically when the slope weakens

Method 3 of 6: Drive carefully on a slope

Drive Uphill Step 10

Step 1. Keep your distance

Be sure to maintain a space of 4 to 10 seconds with the vehicle in front of you. How to do ? Locate a pole and when the car in front arrives at that mark, start counting the seconds: stop when you reach the pole and, if necessary, correct your speed. Four seconds is really the minimum, of course it depends on the traffic and the slope.

  • This safety distance must be greater in the event of a steep slope or poor traffic conditions.
  • When going uphill, perhaps more than on a flat level, it is important to keep a certain distance behind the vehicle in front, an obstacle may arise and you must always remain in control of your driving. If there is a truck or a hitched vehicle in front of you, be extra careful.
Drive Uphill Step 11

Step 2. Double carefully uphill

It often happens on a hill to overtake a slower vehicle, because it is heavier or because the driver is not very reassured. If its speed is low you need to double it, otherwise your engine will overheat, but doubling uphill, and there are often turns, is no easy task, visibility is often reduced and you need to your engine has good pickups. When the road becomes more straight, at least 150 m of visibility, eventually downshift, put on your turn signal and accelerate. If you see that you are running out of power, return to your starting place.

There are no special regulations on overtaking on a hill. However, more often than not, when the road is narrow, winding or steep, or all three at the same time, the white line is continuous and signs indicate the prohibition of overtaking


more than on the flat, it is difficult to know what will be in a descent or a turn, a broken down vehicle in the middle of the road for example. If you are driving on a sloping street, be aware of the possible presence of pedestrians or cyclists.

Drive Uphill Step 12

Step 3. Slow down as you approach the top

By definition, your vehicle will quickly pick up speed on the descent. Likewise, as has been said, an unforeseen obstacle (cyclist, motorcyclist, turn…) is always possible when tipping over the pass.

Be very careful if you don't know the road. A mountain road is rarely straight, it is made of bends, sometimes very tight laces. As you approach the summit, if you don't know what's behind a sharp turn, it is wise and prudent to ease off before starting the descent

Drive Uphill Step 13

Step 4. Turn off the air conditioning to limit engine overheating

The engines are put to the test on the climb, especially if it is long and steep: it gets hot due to the effort provided and changes in speed. This is why it is recommended not to switch the air conditioning on or off so as not to aggravate the overheating that takes place under the hood.

If necessary, lower the windows of your vehicle to lower the temperature

Drive Uphill Step 14

Step 5. Carry out steep descents with the engine brake

When the descents are long, winding and very steep, it is more than recommended to descend with the engine brake, that is to say by engaging a gear that slows the engine down and it is often the second. Thus, you will only occasionally apply the brakes, which will prevent them from overheating, and therefore their degradation. Making a descent in neutral (manual gearbox) is not only dangerous, but it's illegal. With an automatic gearbox, making this same descent while constantly applying the brakes can lead to rapid brake pad wear, or even a disc problem.

The basic rule of braking and safety is simple: anticipate and brake infrequently, at the right time, and not too long

Method 4 of 6: Park a vehicle on a slope

Drive Uphill Step 15

Step 1. Engage the handbrake when parking on a slope

Even if the slope is gentle, the handbrake must be engaged to prevent the car from rolling backwards. The handbrake is most often found between the two front seats or, on some models, it is a foot brake that is activated by pressing a special pedal located on the floor.

The parking brake is more commonly known as the “hand brake”

Drive Uphill Step 16

Step 2. Turn the wheels in the correct direction

If you park uphill and to the right, turn the steering wheel to the left so that the front wheels come up against the curb from behind. Thus, if the parking brake were to release, the car would quickly be stopped by the sidewalk, and for restarting, it is more practical!

If the car is parked in the downhill direction, turn your wheels toward the curb. If the brake were released, the car would not go very far, it would quickly come to a stop by the curb

In the absence of an elevated sidewalk:

Whether parking uphill or downhill, always turn your wheels in the direction of the verge. If the brake were to release, your vehicle would end up in the ditch, which is better than hitting the moving vehicles.

Drive Uphill Step 17

Step 3. Engage a gear to lock the car

With a manual gearbox, before leaving your vehicle, engine off and handbrake engaged, switch to the first. If the handbrake were to release for some reason, the simple fact of having engaged the first would prevent the car from going very far, because the gears of the box are blocked, the engine is blocked.

Whether you have an automatic or manual gearbox, in these two cases, for parking, even temporary, you must engage your handbrake

Method 5 of 6: Start on a hill with a manual gearbox

Drive Uphill Step 18

Step 1. Do not lower the handbrake yet

If the front wheels are, for safety reasons, against a curb with the engine running, straighten the wheels, then point them towards the road to go in the direction of the clearance, the car should not move. Disengage fully, then pass the first.

As the handbrake is applied, both of your feet are free to maneuver

Drive Uphill Step 19

Step 2. Visually check that the way is clear

Before dislodging, put on your turn signal, take a look in your mirrors and over your shoulder. If the way is clear, lightly press the accelerator (approximately 1500 rpm), then slowly shift the clutch until you reach the point of slip.

This skating maneuver is far from being innate, it is necessary to train to switch at the same time, and in reverse, the clutch and the accelerator


if the engine seems to stall, it is enough to disengage a little and also accelerate a little. Do not fully disengage as you will roar the engine.

Drive Uphill Step 20

Step 3. Lower the handbrake

If you spin the clutch well, the car should not move, or move forward very slightly. Continue to accelerate slowly while taking your foot off the clutch pedal just as gently to carefully exit your location.

  • If the car begins to reverse, press the brake pedal, apply the handbrake, disengage and repeat the maneuver… calmly!
  • Don't get upset if it doesn't work the first time. Managing the handbrake, clutch pedal and accelerator at the same time, and especially on slopes, is anything but obvious and easy.
Drive Uphill Step 21

Step 4. Apply the handbrake if stopping uphill

You come across a red traffic light, right on the slope. Do not panic ! Stop quietly, disengage the clutch, put yourself in neutral and apply the handbrake. When the light turns green, disengage, shift first, spin the clutch (the nose of the hood should point forward), release the handbrake and gradually accelerate while shifting the clutch.

  • The maneuver is exactly the same in the event that your downhill course is interrupted by a signal to stop absolutely, apply the handbrake. On the other hand, if you just need to take a short break, as for a priority, only use the brake pedal.
  • To start on a steep slope, step on the accelerator a little harder. The steeper the slope, the more the car tends to want to roll back, so you have to give more power by accelerating more. Similarly, take your foot off the clutch pedal more slowly.

Method 6 of 6: Start on a hill with an automatic gearbox

Drive Uphill Step 22

Step 1. Leave the handbrake engaged

So you won't be able to back down. With the handbrake still on, start the engine, straighten the wheels and change, depending on the slope, to gear D2 (medium slope) or D1 (steep slope).


if the slope is gentle, depress the brake pedal and disengage the handbrake. To start, quickly switch from the brake pedal to the accelerator, the car should only back up very slightly.

Drive Uphill Step 23

Step 2. Make sure the way is clear and turn on your turn signal

Look in your mirrors and take a quick glance over your shoulder to see who's coming. Turn on the turn signal to warn others that you are going to dislocate on the road.

If you are parked on a slope, do not touch your handbrake yet or take your foot off the brake pedal until you are clear of the parking lot

Drive Uphill Step 24

Step 3. Accelerate very gradually while releasing the handbrake

With the latter engaged, see if the way is clear, then start accelerating. When you feel that there is resistance to advance, release the handbrake while accelerating more and more.

In a steep descent, be sure to ride in position 2, which will act as an engine brake, so you will only occasionally use your brakes and save them

Drive Uphill Step 25

Step 4. Engage the handbrake when stopping on a steep hill

Foot brake to stop at a stop sign or a red light, then engage the handbrake. When the light turns green, take your foot off the brake pedal, gradually accelerate while lowering the handbrake.

An automatic car will back up a bit, but nothing to panic! Therefore, it is not necessary to apply the handbrake at a red light or stop sign. However, applying the handbrake will reassure you and you can start your hill slowly, without roaring the engine, you will release the brake at the last moment


  • Driving uphill, especially when there are stops or slowdowns, is not straightforward. Practice, if possible, on low-traffic roads.
  • When going down a narrow mountain road, always be on the lookout. The Highway Code requires you to give way to ascending vehicles. Drive well to the right and always be aware that you may have to park on the side to let these vehicles pass.
  • If you are new to a manual transmission vehicle, look out of the corner of your eye at the tachometer to know when to shift. With practice, you will no longer need to use it: just by the sound of the engine, you will know if you are under or over speed.
  • To park properly on an incline with an automatic transmission car, apply the handbrake, push the shift lever to the “P” position, and then take your foot off the brake pedal. Always apply the handbrake first, it's a matter of safety.


  • Reverse gear can only be engaged when you are at a complete stop. Downshifting to first is only done when you are almost at a standstill.
  • If your vehicle stops or even reverses, immediately step on the brake pedal and apply the handbrake.
  • A vehicle with an automatic gearbox does not back up on a slope, or a few centimeters. If this happened, there is only one explanation: your box has a problem, have it checked by a professional.

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