How to do a hill start in an automatic car

How to do a hill start in an automatic car

This post was most recently updated on May 18th, 2023

Hill start is often a dreaded phase for new drivers. Hill start in an automatic car is only slightly better. Even though it is daunting, it is often an unavoidable manoeuvre on the hilly terrain of the UK. In this article how to do a hill start in an automatic car. You can get driving lessons for proper instructions.  Read more about the cost to learn driving.

One of the most common issues with hill starts is stalling which is usually caused by two things: bringing up the clutch too fast and not pressing enough on the gas pedal. Let us understand how to ace your hill start and ensure the safety of yourself and other road users.

How to do a hill start in an automatic car

What is a Hill Start?

A hill start is basically starting or moving your vehicle while you are on a hill, an inclined plane, or any other gradient that is not a level road. You may have stopped your car due to traffic, your car may have been parked for a long time, or you have been following road sign instructions. Whatever the reason, it is important to perform a hill start correctly not just because it may be tested during your driving exam but also because performing it wrong can result in catastrophic consequences.

Hill starts can seem intimidating initially as they require you to have measured clutch control as well as work against gravity. Your car/vehicle can roll backwards if the hill start is not performed correctly.

Even though many modern cars now come with Hill Start Assist Technology, it is still important for drivers to be able to perform a hill start with confidence. Rolling down a hill can compromise the own safety as well as of other pedestrians and road users.

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However, the good news is that it is easier to get grips while performing a hill start in an automatic car as compared to a manual one. 

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How do you perform an uphill start in an automatic car?

Hill starts usually relate to clutch control but in an automatic car, you are not required to physically release the clutch. It will be automatically controlled by your car.

When you have parked your car facing uphill, put your handbrake on. Put your car into Drive Mode which is indicated by the ‘D’ test and gently press the accelerator. Once you feel that your car is starting to move forward, release the handbrake. It is important to remember that the more sure on the gas, the more smoothly your car will move up the hill. You have to give more revs to your car than you usually do while driving on flat roads.

When you are parked on a hill, pulling off can seem scary, particularly if you are a beginner driver. However, with practice and perseverance, you will be able to do a hill start smoothly.

Will an Automatic Car/Vehicle roll back on a hill?

There is a common misconception among drivers and people in general, that when you are driving an automatic car it can’t roll back. However, in reality, just like in a manual car/vehicle, if you don’t give it enough revs, your car can roll down the hill. Panicking in such situations can make the consequences worse, which is why it is important to keep a cool head.

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Put on your car’s handbrake again and have another attempt at pulling away. Pressure down on the accelerator enough to make your car want to move forward. The risks of hill start necessitate the leaving of a gap between you and the car in front while parking. No driver is immune from making a mistake and you don’t want your car to roll into anybody else or someone’s car to roll back into you.

How do you perform a downhill hill start in an automatic vehicle/car?

Pulling off your car downhill is a lot easier than moving your car uphill. With gravity on your side, you will need fewer revs to get started. In fact, your car will probably move forward as soon as you release the handbrake and your foot is off the car’s brake pedal.

However, you need to be in full control of your car as unintentionally rolling forwards in your car down a hill can be equally disastrous as rolling down backwards. Check if the hill road ahead of you is clear and if you are safe to pull off. Put your car/vehicle in Drive gear and gently release your handbrake. Use the foot brake to control your car’s speed.

Common Dangers to look out for when performing a hill start

There are several ways by which hill starts can get hazardous. Besides rolling back on the hill, there are some other dangers to look out for:

Pedestrians crossing the road ahead of you

Before you pull off on hilly terrain, check if there are people around who are trying to cross the road. Consider the possibility that they may be hidden between the parked vehicles ahead of you.

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 Pedestrians crossing the road behind your car

You should be wary of this situation particularly when you are stopped in hill traffic or at a junction. This may not leave ample safe space between your vehicle and pedestrians trying to cross the road. If your car rolls backwards when you are trying to pull away, you are at great risk of injuring these pedestrians badly.

Other Road Users

Never assume that people on the road are aware of your intentions. Road users may not expect you to start moving your car on hilly terrain, particularly if you are pulling off or pulling away. It is important to perform visual and mirror checks. Moreover, indicate appropriately to ensure the safety of road users.

How to do a hill start in an automatic car: Summing Up

On your driving exam, your examiner will check whether you are able to perform a smooth ride even when you are pulling off on an incline. The key to a safe and smooth hill start in an automatic car is to get enough revs without overdoing it on the gas. Regularly practicing in your driving lessons will help you get better at it.

Sikander Zaman
writing is my profession, doing this from long time. writing for many online websites one of them is scoopearth







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