Hill starts have to be the hardest skill to tackle for new stick shift drivers by far. If pulling off from a dead stop wasn’t hard enough, add the pressure of rolling back and the feeling of losing control of the car………….Now that’s stressful for any beginner.
Key Points for Hill Starts
- Don’t panic. Panic will get in the way of your concentration and create more room for error.
- Don’t hesitate! The more you hesitate, the more time you allow for the car to roll back on a hill start!!
- Come off of the clutch quickly into the friction point, but do not come off the clutch fully!
- Hold your foot on the clutch at the friction point long enough for the car to pick up enough speed to avoid stalling.
Panic is probably the number one thing that makes hill starts for a beginner so hard. The idea of losing control and the sensation of “falling back” coming together make concentration really hard. The best way to eliminate the panic is to find a wide, clear hill with very little traffic and practice.
The last thing you want to do is probably going to be the first thing you’re going to do out of reflex. Slamming on the gas and popping of the clutch is the worst thing you can do. Giving the car excessive gas won’t help stop the roll back because the clutch isn’t engaged yet. Popping off the clutch quickly will engage the clutch quick, but the clutch to gas ratio is out of balance so the car will jolt forward and the wheels will probably skid.
Hesitation is the second reflex to get rid of. Since adding excess gas and popping of the clutch made the car jump forward uncomfortably, now there is hesitation. The second to last thing you want to do is to come off the clutch VERY slowly while increasing the gas excessively. You’ll quickly notice that no matter how much gas you give it, the car will not go anywhere. That’s because the clutch isn’t engaged so the car can’t go anywhere.
Starting Smoothly on a Hill
Getting a smooth hill start with a stick shift car takes time and practice. The time to learn it can be cut down drastically with the proper techniques to practice.
The key is to come off the clutch into the catch point quickly and without hesitation. The catch point is the point of release on the clutch where the car starts to react (move, shutter, etc). Once at the friction point, you should hold your foot there until the car gains some speed before letting the clutch go completely.
The gas is very important in this picture. Gas should be applied before reaching the friction point so the reaction of the car at the friction point is more efficient.
Don’t worry so much about giving it a lot of gas or too little at the moment. As you get better, you will naturally find the right balance of gas. For now, just focus on climbing the hill with little to no rolling.
You can check out more about Hill Starts at this site for a different opinion.
Quick. Catch. Hold……Success!