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Parking on Hills – Know This for Your DMV Test

Parking on a hill - California DMV

For Your DMV Test: Know How to Park on Hills

Parking on hills is a common pitfall on many practical driving tests, as well as the DMV written knowledge test.

First of all, remember that parking on hills or grades is not illegal, unless posted signs or painted curbs say otherwise. You must, however, always make sure that your vehicle is not a hazard when it is parked. It must be far enough from any travel lane to avoid interfering with traffic. It must also be clearly visible to vehicles approaching from either direction. Do not park in locations where others can’t see your car, such as just beyond a curve or close to a crest.

You must also know how to stop your car from rolling into a travel lane. In California, you can get a ticket if you don’t angle your front wheels correctly when parking on a 3% (or more) grade.

Parking on Hills – General Rule

Whenever you park your car on a hill, turn off the engine, set the parking brake, and lock the ignition. Then, turn the front wheels so your car will not roll into to traffic if brakes fail.

The general rule is to turn the front wheels to the right, which means to the side of the road and away from the travel lane. If your car starts rolling, it will roll away from the travel lane and off the road. If you turn the front wheels the other way (away from the side and toward the travel lane), your car, or at least a part of it, will always roll into the travel lane.

The only time the front wheels should be turned to the left and toward the travel lane, is when you park uphill and there is a curb.

A Curb Will Stop the Car

When you park uphill and there is a curb, you turn the wheels to the left and away from the curb. Before you set the parking brake, you let the car roll back a few inches and hit the curb. The curb will act as a second parking brake and stop your car from rolling any further.

Parking on a Hill – Summary

  • Downhill – no curb: turn wheels to the side of the road.
  • Downhill – a curb: turn wheels to the side of the road.
  • Uphill – no curb: turn wheels to the side of the road.
  • Uphill – a curb: turn wheels away from the side of the road.

Remember, whenever you park your car, you must stop your engine and set your parking brake. Leave the vehicle in gear or reverse if it has a manual transmission or in park if it has an automatic transmission.

Before getting out, remove the keys. Never leave the ignition keys in a parked vehicle. It is also a good habit to lock your doors when you leave your car unattended.

More reading for permit takers: Parking on Hills – Driver Tips

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  1. How does the car roll backwards so the wheels touch the curb when you park uphill? Did you put it in reverse or in neutral?

  2. This question really confuses me. ???

  3. 3Rd point in bullets needs clarifying. Why. Is it even correct?

    • It is correct. Without a curb, the back of your car will roll into the street if you turn the wheels to the left. Turn them the other way – and there is a better chance that most (if not all) of your car will roll away from the street.

      Most State Manuals have this information. Also a common topic on DMV knowledge tests, as well as the behind-the-wheel test.

  4. This lecture about parking uphill and downhill seldom appear. I have been looking for this lecture many times I open this website. Never stop browsing this website until your queries are satisfied.

    • I was taught in driver ed class….many moons ago, to always (under anyall) cercumstanses to turn the wheels to the right. Reason being…. if the car was hit, wether it be from the back OR the front — it would keep the vehicle from
      going into the road and avoiding any cars. So my question is: Why would it be that if on a hill, that the wheels should be turned left? Wouldn’t that send the car out into traffic if someone should hit the car from the front?

      • Basically, you turn your wheels to the right in all situations, except one: parking uphill with a curb.

        The reason is that the curb will act as a second parking brake. Back of your front wheels will hit the curb and stop the car, if it should start rolling OR if it is hit from the front (a very unlikely scenario, but still).

        What if the car is hit from the rear? Yes, the front of your car could be pushed out into the travel lane. Since you are parked uphill the speed will be very low and your car won’t go very far. Most likely the parking brake will stop it from going anywhere at all. Since it is more likely that your car will roll backwards for any number of reasons, it is more important to safeguard yourself for that scenario.

        This information is nowadays found in most driver’s manuals. For New York it is found on page 57 (2015 edition). Correct parking on hills is part of many theory tests as well as road tests.


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