How To Park on a Hill

Parking on an incline can be a particularly difficult task if you are not so used to precision driving. Whether you are driving an automatic transmission or a manual transmission vehicle, you might have a difficult time playing around with your clutch, or giving the gas pedal bursts of force while climbing an inclined area during parking.

In some cities with rolling, hilly roads, though, you would need to get used to the fact that you can’t just roll your car into place. Here are a few tips in parking on a hill.

Driving a manual transmission vehicle

When you’re driving stick, it’s assumed that you know how to find the right balance between the gas pedal and the clutch when starting from a standstill. Manual clutches work on the concept of friction. With the clutch pedal fully released, the engine “bites” the wheels directly, therefore providing maximum torque. When the clutch pedal is somewhere in between, though, the clutch discs use friction to vary the amount of torque transferred to the wheels.

There should be no problem when starting from a standstill on a level road. When you are going uphill, though, you need to give the car more gas so that the engine doesn’t stall. More importantly, you need to make sure the clutch gives enough friction, so that you don’t accidentally roll backward or downward.

One trick that new drivers learn is using the handbrake or parking brake while making minute adjustments. When driving uphill, you would need to be quick with moving your right foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator, and any lost time might result in your car rolling downward, and possibly hitting something in the process. The trick involves engaging the handbrake, and already balancing the gas and clutch pedals, and releasing the handbrake at the precise time the engine engages the wheels.

Driving an automatic transmission vehicle

Driving an automatic can be fairly straightforward, However, when parking on a hill, you need to learn how to give the gas just enough bursts to make small movements. This can be particularly important when parallel parking. Don’t overdo it, though, since giving the car too much gas for too long might result in your lurching backward or forward too far, and hitting an obstacle.

Another problem you will face when parking on a hill is the possibility that your car might roll downhill. There are several ways you can make sure it doesn’t accidentally roll off.

Leave the car in gear

If you’re driving a manual transmission vehicle, be sure to lock the transmission in gear after turning off the engine. If the car is facing downhill, leave the transmission in Reverse. If the car is facing uphill, leave the car in First gear. If you’re driving an automatic, be sure to leave it in Park, so that the gearbox’s locking mechanism is in place.

This ensures that in the event the parking brake fails, your gearbox will keep the car stationary.

Turning the wheels toward the sidewalk

When you are parallel parked on an incline, be sure to park as close to the curb as possible. Turn the steering wheel fully toward the sidewalk if you’re facing downhill. Turn the steering wheel fully away from the sidewalk when facing uphill. This will make sure that in the event your parking brake fails (and the transmission is not engaged), your car will roll toward the curb, and your front wheel nearest the curb will effectively be chocked by the sidewalk. While this does not give a 100% guarantee the car won’t hit anything, this will at least minimize any potential damage.

Chocking your wheels

To be sure the car doesn’t inadvertently roll off, find a small rock to chock the lower wheels. If you live on a hilly street, you can actually buy wooden or metal chocks, so you can keep your car in place without worries.

The best way to make sure your car stays in place is by applying at least two of these methods. Of course, common sense dictates that you shouldn’t forget to engage the parking brake anytime you are parking, whether on an incline or a flat surface. If you can avoid parking on a steep incline altogether, then that would even be better. Parking on slopes puts undue stress on a car’s suspension system. But if you have no choice, then be sure to follow safety precautions.


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