How to Get Started on a Hill When Driving a Manual Transmission Car

car parked on a hill

A manual transmission gives you better control of the speed and power of your vehicle while driving compared with an automatic transmission. For the most part, driving a car with a manual transmission is easy enough. But starting and stopping on hills with a manual transmission presents a unique set of challenges. You can easily start and stop a vehicle with a manual transmission on a hill by keeping in mind a few helpful hints.

Method 1 of 3: Using the handbrake

Normally, you would have to carefully balance pushing the clutch and brake pedal, and then give the vehicle some gas while letting off the clutch. With the handbrake method, instead of pushing the brake, you activate the handbrake, also known as the parking brake. This allows you to push the gas pedal as you let off of the clutch pedal while you release the handbrake at the same time.

hand pulling handbrake

Step 1: Apply the handbrake. As you stop on an incline, press on the clutch pedal and shift into first gear.

Next, set the hand brake. This allows you to stay stopped and press the clutch pedal with your left foot, while leaving your right foot free to press the gas pedal.

foot pressing on gas pedal

Step 2: Press the gas pedal. When you need to go again, start pressing on the gas pedal.

The amount of incline determines how much you need to press the gas pedal. Just remember to apply steady pressure.

foot releasing clutch pedal

Step 3: Release the clutch and handbrake. As you apply the gas, take your foot off of the clutch pedal.

As you release the clutch pedal and push the gas pedal, release the handbrake.

Method 2 of 3: Using the heel-toe method

Another way to get started on a hill when driving a vehicle with a manual transmission is the heel-toe method. The heel-toe method allows you to press the clutch, brake, and gas pedal all at the same time. In this way you can give the vehicle gas while also pressing the brake with your right foot and keep the car from stalling by simultaneously pressing the clutch with your left foot.

foot pressing clutch and brake pedal at the same time

Step 1: Apply pressure to the clutch and brake pedal. Start by pushing both the brake and the clutch pedals at the same time as you come to a stop, making sure to shift into first gear.

This keeps the vehicle from stalling while you are stopped.

footprints over clutch, brake, and gas pedal

Step 2: Press the gas pedal with your heel. When you need to go forward in the vehicle, slide the heel of your right foot over to the gas pedal while keeping the toes of your right foot on the brake.

This allows you to keep the vehicle stationary while still applying the gas.

Step 3: Let off the clutch. As you apply more pressure to the gas pedal with your right heel, slowly let off the clutch pedal.

You will need to give the vehicle more gas on inclines to account for the uphill angle you are fighting against.

Step 4: Press the gas pedal. As you feel the clutch start to go into gear, move your right foot fully over to the gas pedal.

Release the clutch slowly as you give the vehicle some gas to move forward.

Method 3 of 3: Using the clutch, brake, and gas pedal foot shuffle method

The foot shuffle method is the most common one used when starting and stopping on a hill while driving a vehicle with a manual transmission. While it is more difficult to synchronize the pressure applied to the clutch and gas pedals when using this method, once you get the hang of it, you should have no problem starting and stopping on hills.

person pressing clutch and brake pedal

Step 1: Press the clutch and brake pedal. As you come to a stop, press the brake and the clutch pedals at the same time, making sure to shift into first gear.

The vehicle should idle smoothly as you wait for your turn to go.

Step 2: Release the clutch pedal slowly. As you prepare to move forward again, slowly release the clutch pedal until you feel the vehicle start to go into gear.

At the same time, move your right foot from the brake pedal to the gas pedal.

Step 3: Press the gas pedal. As you press the gas to start moving forward, release your left foot completely off the clutch pedal.

Keep in mind that steeper inclines require you to give the vehicle more gas, so adjust your pressure on the gas pedal accordingly.

Starting and stopping on a hill when driving a vehicle with a manual transmission is easy once you learn how to do it. From there, it is just a matter of practicing your technique until it becomes second nature to you. You should also keep your vehicle's manual transmission in good repair and Ask a Mechanic if you encounter any problems with the transmission in your car.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Car trouble?

Our mechanics make house calls.

  • Get a quote & book a service online
  • Save up to 30% compared to shops
  • Repairs, maintenance & diagnostics
  • 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty
GET A QUOTE

Excellent rating

Rating@3x

Need a mechanic?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 700 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

Get a quote

Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


Ask a question