Driving test manoeuvres – the hill start

Before you are able to pass your driving test, you’ll need to demonstrate to the examiner that you’re able to complete a number of manoeuvres which might be required out on the roads.

One of these that you might be asked to do is the hill start, a move that many new drivers feel rather intimidated by.

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However, once you know the sequence of actions you need to complete, you’ll find that hill starts are nowhere as near daunting as you may have feared.

Here’s our step by step easy guide to completing a hill start.

What the examiner will be looking for

Before you start to practice the manoeuvre it can be helpful to have an understanding of the skills and behaviours the examiner will be hoping to see you demonstrate.

During the hill start, you will need to show:

  • that you follow the MSM routine
  • you have checked the blind spot for pedestrians and other road users
  • you’re able to move off smoothly and with control on a gradient
  • a combination of the use of steering, clutch control, brakes and accelerator
  • no rolling back
  • use of the correct gear

How to complete an uphill start

If you don’t have good clutch control and aren’t able to co-ordinate your movements, the car will roll back down the hill, which will be an immediate fail on your test.

When you’re ready to move away, begin by following the start of the standard MSM routine – mirror, signal, and manoeuvre.

After checking your mirrors are clear and there are no other road users or pedestrians, select first gear and ease your foot off the clutch pedal to the biting point, keeping the revs higher than you would normally do.

Indicate, and check your mirrors again, plus a look over your shoulder to make sure you’re happy it’s safe to move off. Slowly release the handbrake and ease off the clutch slightly, just enough to start the car rolling forward. This needs to be done gently; too much and the car will kangaroo.

Slowly increase the pressure on the accelerator while easing off the clutch completely.

The amount of extra power it takes to start moving uphill can be surprising and many learners fail simply because they didn’t apply enough pressure to keep up the momentum.

You’ll need to remain in first gear for longer than normal while the vehicle gathers pace; a smooth gear change is also vital to maintain the speed you’ve acquired. If you fumble the first gear change, you could find the car struggling to regain its uphill movement.

Before moving upwards through the gears, don’t forget to check that the indicator has switched itself off.

How to complete a downhill start

Most people think of hill starts as an uphill movement but starting off with the road pointing downhill can also be very challenging.

After completing the same MSM safety checks, you should ensure that both the brake and the clutch pedals are pressed firmly down. You may need either first or second gear, depending on how steep the hill is.

When you’re ready to move, find the biting point on the clutch and release the handbrake. Now, gently ease off the brake pedal and you’ll see the car start to move forward. Continue to fully release the brake pedal in a smooth movement and take your foot off the clutch. Move your right foot over to the accelerator.

You may only need a very small amount of pressure on the accelerator, depending on the gradient, so be prepared to make adjustments as the road levels out. Whilst you are moving downhill, you will have your car in either second or third gear only; this allows you to control the speed far more easily.

The key to hill starts – either uphill or downhill – is coordination and smooth movements. Avoid pressing or releasing the pedals jerkily and pay attention to how the car is responding. Exactly how much acceleration is needed will depend on the actual gradient and you’ll quickly become accustomed to intuitively understanding how much to give.

Contact us if you have any questions about taking your driving test or starting driving lessons in the Greater Manchester Area