How to Safely Park on a Hill

While parking a car is an essential driving skill that must be proven to gain a license, parking on a hill is a skill not everyone possesses.

Although drivers may not have to demonstrate this ability, it is crucial to know the safe method to park a car on an incline to ensure the safety of not only your vehicle, but of those on the road as well. Gravity is a strong force, and there is a risk your parking brake may become disengaged in your absence, which could potentially send your unmanned vehicle rolling into a veritable war zone of moving cars.

proper turning angle when parking

Method 1 of 3: Park on a downward-sloping hill with a curb

Step 1: Pull your car parallel to the curb. When you see an open parking space, pull up about a car’s length in front of it and then back your car into the slot.

Ideally, try to position your car within six inches of the curb.

Step 2: Turn the front tires away from the curb. Try to turn the front tires away from the curb. Make this turn in the final moment of pulling parallel to the curb.

  • Tip: Turning the tires while moving produces less wear and tear than turning them while stationary.

While the fronts of the tire should face away from the curb, the back of the one closest to the curb should touch it. This angling of the tires puts the car in such a position that it will roll into the curb and stop in the event that the parking brake fails.

enaging parking brake

Step 3: Park your car. Put your car in “Park” and engage the emergency parking brake. Turn off the ignition and exit your car with confidence that it will still be in place when you return.

Method 2 of 3: Park on an upward-sloping hill with a curb

car backing into parking spot

Step 1: Pull into an empty parallel parking space. As in parking on a downward slope, first pull up past the empty slot about a car’s length away and then back your car into place. The ideal position is parallel to the curb and within six inches away.

Step 2: Turn the front tires towards the curb. The front tire closest to the curb should touch it. With the tires positioned in this manner, the car will roll into the curb instead of out into the road in the case of a parking brake failure.

Step 3: Place the car in park with the emergency brake on. With the wheels in the proper position and the car close enough to the curb, you can turn the ignition off and exit your vehicle without the worry of your car rolling away in your absence.

Method 3 of 3: Park on a hill with no curb

Step 1: Pull into a vacant parking space. If it is a parallel parking space, pull up about a car length ahead and then back into it. Otherwise, pull into the space driving forward, positioning the car between the lines.

Step 2: Turn the fronts of the front tires to the right, if applicable. If you are parking on the side of the road, turning the tires in this manner prevents the car from rolling into moving traffic if the parking brake fails.

Step 3: Put your car in park and engage the emergency brake. With the car in park and the emergency brake engaged, there is extra power to keep your car stationary against the force of gravity.

By utilizing these methods for safely parking on a hill, you prevent unnecessary damage to your car in case the parking brake is not engaged or if it fails.

A few moments of time to ensure the wheels are properly positioned can prevent costly damage to your vehicle and others – not to mention preventing injury to other drivers and nearby pedestrians.


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