Got a request from one of our readers regarding how to drive over steep inclines especially when stuck in traffic. This is kinda’ tricky but with practice you can conquer these inclines with relative ease. First, try to get to know the vehicle you are driving; are the brakes in good condition, does the handbrake function properly? I ask this for they would come in handy with a nice trick that can save you from rolling down as you are stuck in traffic later.
Try to gauge the steepness of the incline that you are going to drive through. Anything more than 10 degrees can send you rolling backwards uncontrollably without fast reflexes. Try to test the effectiveness of the brakes by going up a few meters, stepping on the pedals and see if the car still rolls backwards ( Keep your hand on the handbrake so you can stop if you do end up rolling backwards). If you are climbing without any traffic problem, it would be relatively easy for the car’s momentum will tend to get you over (try shifting to lower gears so you get more traction. If you are stuck in traffic going up, here’s a nifty trick you can try.
As you stop and press the brakes, engage the handbrake (I’ll advise you to keep your foot on the pedal so if the handbrake gives, your foot on the brake pedal prevents you from crashing into the vehicle behind you.). When traffic starts to move, give the vehicle in front of you a few meters clearance, depress the clutch and set the stick into first gear. Try getting the exact instance between the clutch engaging and releasing so you are set to roll as you release the handbrake. As you slowly release the clutch you would hear the engine straining a bit from the clutch engaging. As the engine tries to propel the car forward (which would be quite impossible for the handbrake is still engaged) release the handbrake slowly as you depress the gas pedal to get more power to the wheels(not too fast or you end up rear-ending the car in front). You should then begin to lurch forward allowing you to resume driving up.
The steeper the incline, the harder it would be to do this driving technique. Going down the same incline, use the engine for additional braking power (the process is aptly called engine braking which is quite complicated but necessary for economic engine operation) by selecting lower gears (1st and 2nd ) which has lower gear ratios that stops the vehicle aiding the brakes in the stopping of your vehicle. Others tend to use the clutch as a method of preventing the car from going backwards, which is not only dangerous for you can stall the engine suddenly sending you into trouble (it is also a sure way to burn out your clutch sending you for costly repairs to the clutch system and even the transmission).
Note: If you think the angle of the climb is greater than what your brakes can handle; do not continue driving up for you might not have enough braking power to stop in the hanging position sending you crashing into the vehicle behind you. Stay at the bottom till there is enough distance for the engine to get enough power over the top. Keep your hands on the handbrake so you can get additional braking power in case you do stall. Still not convinced if you can do the routine, try it on a steep driveway or somewhere traffic isn’t so hard like the bridge in the park away from traffic.