A hill start, either moving off uphill or downhill is another of the set pieces featured in the practical driving test. Clutch control and balanced use of the accelerator, brakes and steering are vital in performing this manoeuvre successfully.
Don't let your car roll backwards if you are performing a hill start moving off uphill, or roll forwards if moving off downhill in your driving test, as this will be scored as a major or minor fault depending on the severity of the roll.
When the test examiner asks you to stop on the left hand side of the road, check your mirror and look for a safe and legal place to stop. Next check your interior and left hand mirror, indicate and pull in smoothly and gradually.
Stop with the front wheels pointing straight ahead, put on the handbrake, select neutral and cancel the indicator.
You will be expected to move off safely and under control.
First, if you are moving off uphill - depress the clutch and put the car in first gear. Rev the engine slightly more than if you were moving off on level ground. Hold your right foot still. Let the clutch up smoothly to the biting point. You need to let the clutch bite more than normal as you are on a hill, so that the car is pulling very slightly against the handbrake. You must make sure you do not let the clutch up too far, and leave the engine labouring. You can spot the right position using the following methods -
Note that the bonnet of the car lifts slightly
The rev counter reading will drop
The engine note will deepen.
Hold your feet still.
Check your interior and right mirror, your blind spot, and if clear, signal right and release the handbrake. Keep your feel still. The car should start moving slowly forward. Don't be tempted to turn the wheel yet.
Wait until the car has gained some speed, then let up the clutch smoothly and give it some more gas. Now check your outside mirror, your blind spot and move out to your normal position. If the clutch doesn't move forward on releasing the handbrake, let the clutch up slightly, so that it moves slowly forward. If it rolls back, you did not let the clutch up far enough when finding the biting point, so keep practising.
When moving off downhill, a different approach is required, with emphasis on the clutch and brake pedals, as well as the gears.
After following the same stopping procedure, and with the handbrake fully on, depress the clutch and put the car straight into second gear. Bring the clutch up until you hear the engine sound change, keeping your foot on the brake all the time. Release the handbrake, and bring the clutch slowly up, Let gravity do the hard work, and control your speed with the foot brake, bringing the clutch fully up as soon as possible. The steeper the gradient, the higher the gear you should start in. Before long you will have mastered the techniques of the hill start.