Parking on a Hill: 7 Tips for Flawless Execution

An in depth guide to help you become a pro at parking on a hill. Parking on a Hill: 7 Tips for Flawless Execution

There are a few situations in this world that you won’t know you need to be prepared for until, well, you need to be prepared for them. This is especially true in the sometimes wild world of motorized vehicles! That’s part of the reason we provide so many DIY guides, along with articles on everything from daily life to travel tips. No matter what the occasion, you need to be ready to face it. The scariest situations to be in are those that you feel completely inadequate to handle, and that happens when you don’t factor them in. Today we’re going to go over some tips on how to handle one very such situation: parking on a hill.

What’s it like where you live? Your geographic location will be a huge factor in determining how many hills you will face in your lifetime. Those who live in the midwest, for example, where it’s flat for miles will benefit greatly from reading this blog! There are so many scenarios in which understanding this concept becomes crucial to your safety and the safety of your car. If you’re planning on road tripping anytime soon, for example, you’re bound to run into some mountains.

parking-on-hill3And mountains, of course, mean hilly terrain for parking.

Hiking enthusiasts and city dwellers can also learn a thing or two. There is never a bad time to add a few new tricks to your routine. Let’s face it: sometimes parking is just plain difficult! Whether you’re backing in to pull out, or pulling in to back out, there’s no easy way to go about it. You’re going to be in a tight spot regardless. This is even more true of parallel parking, which you’ll run into often when parking on a hill. If there’s one thing that everybody can agree on it’s that everybody hates parallel parking.

If you’re about to get your license (congratulations in advance!) this is a must-read! You absolutely need this information to even pass your written test. Parking on hills is included on it, and you can only miss so many questions before they boot you, Have no fear, however, because we’re going to ensure you’re a pro by the end of this article! If you happen to be a parent of a teen about to take their test, you should go over this blog with them. Who knows, you might even learn something yourself!

The Tips, Tricks, And How-Tos
Let’s start with some lovely little tips on how to take this job on. Safety is a number one priority for us at Motorful, and we’re more than happy to bring you these guides with safety in mind. Knowing how to maneuver your car in a crowded city is crucial! It really doesn’t matter whether you’re on a curvy San Francisco street or cruising in the countryside, however. These techniques are an entry-level point for almost every driver out there. Most driving tests feature questions about this very topic! So, be prepared next time you step out into the rush of the city, or the relaxation of a back, little-known road.


Parallel Parking: If you’re heading into the city, you’re probably going to run into a parallel parking job on a hill. That’s just a fact of nature! Every city is packed with places on the side of the street to park, and since cities are so big they generally contain a terrain varying in altitude. Parallel parking seems to be the biggest complaint among drivers in the city, besides traffic and road rage, of course. It can be awfully intimidating if you are inexperienced in it!

However, parallel parking in a city actually gives you an advantage. You’re going to first look at whether you’re parking uphill or downhill (more on that below). There are tips for either of those, but we’ll look at things specific to parallel parking for now. A quick tip is to line yourself up with the car that will be in front of you. Use it as your guide to sliding back into the spot. When you’re able to slide in try to hug as tight to the curb as you can. See the next two tips for two different scenarios!

Keep Your Foot On The Brake: You’re going to have to be exceedingly careful when you back into a spot if you’re parallel parking! If you let off the brake at the wrong time your car is going to roll back and hit the one behind you. This is obviously what you’re trying to avoid. Or, your car might roll forward either into the car in front, or, even worse, into oncoming traffic.

We will also note here that you really need to make sure your brakes are in good condition. This is one of the many examples of why brakes are so important… If common sense hasn’t already explained it, that is. Knowing that you can count on your brakes to work is seriously so important. They’re a crucial safety feature for not only you but the cars around you, as well. Trust us when we say that every person in every vehicle around you wants your brakes to work, too!

parking-on-hill4Uphill Angles: If you’re parking uphill you’re going to do thing slightly different than if you’re parking downhill. This is because of the orientation of your vehicle. When you park on an incline you’re going to want to cut your wheels all the way to the left, and let your car slide to the right a little. You will rest your front passenger wheel against the curb in order to help your car stay securely in place.

Downhill Angles: Now we’ll talk about downhill parking! When you park downhill there is a little more to worry about. If you park your car incorrectly and it rolls it may end up in oncoming traffic. Which is, of course, not good at all. Not only will this probably total your vehicle, but you’re also liable for the damage it’ll do to the other cars involved. In a busy city, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars in damage done since the streets are so busy. That isn’t even counting personal injury that may occur.

To avoid this happening you’re going to angle your car to the right. Cut your wheels all the way, and let your car slide until your wheels are resting, again, against the curb. This angling means that if your car rolls it won’t roll into the oncoming traffic. Instead, it will roll to the right, out of the way of harm.

Use Your Emergency Brake: This is quite possibly one of the best pieces of advice we can give you! There is no better tool in your car available to you than the emergency brake. This beautiful, little lever can be the difference between your brakes handling a hill, and them giving out under the strain. Your emergency brake should always be used whenever you’re parking in such a precarious situation.

Mind The White Line: Are you planning on going out for a hike soon? Perhaps you’re taking a trip to a state park for an outdoor extravaganza? No matter where you’re headed, if it’s towards the great outdoors you’re going to run into mountainous terrain. It’s important to be prepared for anything you might face when you’re stepping out into the wild. This applies to having emergency supplies, a map of the area, basic guides, and, you guessed it, parking!

parking-on-hill5Now, there are several different types of parking available at most state parks. Some of them have handy parking lots that are level, and perfectly safe. However, if you’re really looking to go off the beaten path, you may have to park on a rather steep hill. Some state parks have their parking lots fill up, too, so you have no choice but to find a place on the side of the road to leave your car. You’re going to want to mind the white line and get as far away from it as you can. You’re at risk to get sideswiped if you’re too close to the road! This applies to parking on hills everywhere, but it’s especially important for this type of terrain in particular.

Just follow the directions we outlined in above for both downhill and uphill situations. Apply whichever one fits, and keep your surroundings in mind. Unfortunately, there probably isn’t a curb to rest your tires against, but that’s just fine. Just make sure that if you’re uphill you cut your wheels to the left. If you’re downhill, cut them to the right. And, again, always use your emergency brake.

Practice The Art To Master The Art: The only way you’re going to get better is to practice. Try to find an area that is hilly, but not too busy. This will give you a relaxing environment where you can mess up without worrying. Practice over and over again. Really, do it as many times as you need to! You want to be completely confident by the time you’re done.

Now you have what you need in order to park like a pro. It can be scary to think about what can go wrong when you leave your car in this type of situation. We hope that these tips will help you find more confidence in that regard! Once you’ve mastered the art of uphill and downhill parking you’ll be good to go almost anywhere. It’s an important skill to have since the situation does pop up fairly regularly. Maybe not in your day to day life, but certainly if you plan on traveling.

Now, go forth, park, and conquer!


  1. Driver’s Ed – Parking on a Hill
  2. Varsity Driving Academy – Parking on Hills: Driver Tips
  3. Teen Driving – Parking