Hill Starts

Hill Starts

When moving off uphill, there is the extra potential hazard of rolling back to be avoided, and this manoeuvre will require some careful consideration. For example, the greater the steepness of the hill, the harder the engine needs to work to move the vehicle. In addition, the heavier the vehicle is – and the more occupants it holds – the more “load” will be placed upon the engine.

How we transfer the power of the engine to the roadwheels is also crucial to avoid stalling. Generally, the clutch pedal needs to be released much slower than for moving off on the flat and , therefore, the car will gather speed – or momentum – more slowly.

To Move Off Uphill


Firstly, check the handbrake is applied (it should feel firm) and that the gear lever is in neutral (it can be moved from side to side and when released self-centers).
Start the engine – in the “Yaris” you must fully depress the clutch pedal to do this.
Keep the clutch pedal down and select 1st. gear.
Set the gas – the engine should now sound like it is “purring.” When moving uphill usually slightly more gas is needed, however the engine shouldn’t roar.
Find” biting point” – the clutch should be brought up until the engine’s sound just changes, then hold the clutch still. On a hill, you may notice that the front of your vehicle – but not on all vehicles – may rise slightly. If we get bite correct, there is no chance of rolling back.

Observe as described for moving off on level ground, but consider that on a hill, it will take longer than normal to gain speed, so you need a bigger gap than normal.


Once you are sure it is safe and have given a signal if necessary, release the handbrake slowly – if you have perfect “bite” the car should neither move forward or backwards. Begin to move the car at a crawling speed by easing the clutch slowly up a fraction, and increasing the gas steadily – a “see/saw” motion. If the car feels as if it is struggling to move increase the gas carefully until the vehicle moves smoothly – avoid any sudden release of the clutch as this could cause a stall, but rather, release the clutch slowly until it is fully up. As soon as the car is moving you can begin to steer the car into the “normal driving position” – about one metre from the kerb.

What if things go wrong?

Initially, your instructor will talk you through the procedure, and you will steadily gain control until independence is achieved. Often, if things go wrong they can be put right quite easily. For instance, if the vehicle starts to roll back the most important thing to do is simply stop, reapply the handbrake and try again – no harm done!

If you stall, again, the above remedy should be carried out. Sometimes errors occur through the driver rushing the routine. Try to avoid rushing. It’s better to move off first time slowly than fourth time panicking!

Remember any “Really Good” instructor will help you build your confidence and skill in this manoeuvre. We would not wish to put you in a situation where you have a queue of traffic behind you until you are managing to achieve the hill start independently through practice in quieter areas at first.