How to Drive a Manual Uphill

Written by vincent labbate
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How to Drive a Manual Uphill
A manual transmission vehicle's gear stick. (convertible car interior image by Christopher Dodge from

Driving a manual transmission vehicle uphill can be more difficult than driving on a flat road. If you are starting off from a standstill, the vehicle will roll backward slightly or considerably once the brake is released, depending on the slope of the hill. You may also come upon a steep hill after driving on relatively flat roads, so learning how to use your car's gears properly is very important. Once you know the accelerator to clutch ratio and practice a few times, a technique for driving up hills will be in the back of your mind when driving a manual transmission vehicle.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


    Starting Off From a Standstill

  1. 1

    Hold your right foot on the brake until you are about to drive up the hill.

  2. 2

    Keep the clutch, which is the furthest pedal to the left, all the way down using your left foot, and put the car in first gear.

  3. 3

    Release the brake, press on the accelerator, and start to release the clutch. Release the clutch with your left foot slowly, while giving the appropriate amount of gas using your right foot. During this period, the car will briefly roll backward, but will soon move forward.

  4. 4

    Depending on the slope of the hill, the RPMs should be anywhere from two thousand to three thousand. For example, revving the vehicle to three thousand RPMs on a steeper hill will make starting the car from a stop easier.

  5. 5

    Proceed up the hill, shifting to second or third gear depending on the gradient of the hill.

    Going Up a Hill When Already in Motion

  1. 1

    Determine the slope of the hill being approached.

  2. 2

    Press the clutch all the way down and shift down one gear before ascending the hill if it has a gradually inclining slope. For example, shift from fifth gear to fourth, or from fourth gear to third, and maintain the appropriate speed. Keep the RPMs in the powerband, which is about five to seven thousand. This will allow the vehicle to have more power while climbing up the hill.

  3. 3

    Press the clutch down and shift down a second time if the slope has a steeper gradient. For example, shift from third gear to second gear. Keep the RPMs in the powerband while driving up the hill.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice on empty hilly roads to get a feel for the accelerator to clutch ratio. This will give you an idea as to how much you must accelerate depending on the slope of the hill.
  • Keep within the powerband while driving up a hill. This will allow the car to have more power while driving up the hill and prevent the vehicle from being sluggish or cutting out.
  • Be aware of vehicles behind you on hills.

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