Difference Between Hill Hold And Hill Assist


When you shop for cars, you’ll be bombarded with the names of many different driver-assistance features. Some common ones these days include Hill Hold and Hill Assist, but what are the differences between those two?

Hill Hold and Hill Assist features perform the exact same task. They are designed to keep the car stationary for at least 2 seconds while on a slope as soon as the driver releases the brake pedal. That way, the driver has time to operate the clutch or gas pedal and perform a hill start (i.e. get the car moving forward again) without the vehicle rolling backwards.

Whether your car has Hill Hold or Hill Assist, or you’re looking for a vehicle that includes the feature, you’ll want to read this article until the end. You’ll discover what the features do, why they have different names, and what benefits they have in common.

Why Do Cars Have Hill Hold Or Hill Assist?

The first thing to understand about Hill Hold and Hill Assist is that they’re both driver assistance systems aimed at solving the same problem. That problem is called a hill start.

A hill start happens when your vehicle comes to a complete halt while on a sloped surface like a hill. While stopping is easy, starting to move again can be pretty challenging.

Whether you’re driving an automatic or manual transmission, you must lift your foot off the break for at least a second to operate the clutch or gas pedal and get your car moving forward.

But remember: gravity is continually pulling your car backwards down the hell. As a result, letting go of the brake pedal causes your vehicle to move back just enough that it can be a problem, especially if there’s another car close behind you.

For manual cars specifically, rushing to operate the clutch and perform the hill start could cause the car to stall if you don’t execute the move quickly and correctly.

Driver assistance systems like Hill Hold and Hill Assist simplify that process by keeping your brakes engaged for at least 2 seconds starting from when you let go of the brake pedal. That way, you can perform the hill start without your car rolling backwards.

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Hill Hold Vs Hill Assist; What’s The Difference?

Here’s something you might find surprising: Hill Hold and Hill Assist are the exact same thing. They’re both the same driver assistance system designed to help drivers perform hill starts safer and more effectively.

However, the name difference depends on the particular car brand or model.

Some manufacturers refer to the feature as Hill Hold, Hill Hold Control, Hill Hold Assist, and any other variation of that name. Meanwhile, others call it Hill Assist, Hill Start Assist, and the like.

For example, the feature is known in Hyundai cars as Hill Assist. At the same time, Kia vehicles have the same feature called Hill Start Assist.

So why are there different names for the same driver assist feature?

Firstly, there are no rules stating that all car manufacturers must use the same names for their driver-assist features. So, a car company can call their hill start assistance feature anything they want.

Secondly, auto manufacturers typically use different names for their features to differentiate them from their competition. Doing so helps with their marketing efforts to promote their vehicles and catch car buyers’ attention.

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What Are The Benefits Of Hill Hold And Hill Assist?

Now that we’ve established there are no differences between Hill Hold and Hill Assist, let’s focus on the benefits they share.

Here are the 5 benefits of Hill Hold and Hill Assist features in today’s cars:

1. Makes Hill Starts Easier For Newer Drivers

Ask any driver, and they’ll tell you that learning how o manage hill starts was one of the biggest challenges when they first got their driver’s license. Thankfully, novice drivers today don’t necessarily have to learn how to do that the hard way.

If their vehicle has Hill Hold or Hill Assist, the car will help them keep the car still as they learn to manage hill starts.

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2. Minimizes Wear On Car Parts

Executing a hill start the old-fashioned way involves relying heavily on the handbrake and the clutch if you’re driving a manual. Unfortunately, that also means putting a lot of excess wear on those parts throughout the car’s lifespan.

With Hill Hold and Hill Assist, you’ll reduce your dependence on the handbrake and clutch and save them plenty of wear.

3. Reduces Strain On The Engine

Aside from the brake and clutch, the engine also experiences a lot of strain when keeping the car still on an incline. 

Some drivers make hill starts easier by constantly revving their engines instead of applying the brakes. Meanwhile, others tend to accelerate too much during the hill start, placing a sudden burden on the engine.

Both of those examples are problematic for the car’s engine. Thankfully, that’s not a concern if you have Hill Hold or Assist features in your car, which keeps the vehicle stationary without any extra output from the engine.

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4. Aids In Slope Maneuvering

So far, we’ve been viewing Hill Hold and Hill Assist in terms of driving uphill and potentially rolling back into traffic. However, that’s not the only context in which you might be driving up a slope.

Suppose you’re trying to manoeuvre your vehicle up a hill without a straight path. In that case, Hill Hold or Hill Assist features could be a lifesaver, as it helps you navigate your way while preventing the vehicle from rolling back.

Remember: even holding the car still for just 2 seconds can help you regain control of the vehicle and stay safe.

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5. Maximizes Road Safety For All Users

Overall, having your car automatically hold its position on a slope, even if only for a few seconds, keeps everyone safer on the road.

Firstly, it keeps you and your passengers safe by allowing you to perform a hill start and continue your journey up the slope.

However, it also ensures that you do not roll back and potentially cause a chain reaction where multiple cars collide with each other backward.

So, in terms of the big picture, these features maximize road safety for everyone sharing the same road as you.

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Do All Cars Have Hill Assist Features?

No, not all cars have Hill Assist features. However, the feature is indeed becoming increasingly common as more manufacturers include them in their newer vehicle models.

Many car buyers do not see Hill Assist features as a crucial factor influencing their buying decisions. 

In fact, a lot of automotive enthusiasts believe that the Hill Hold or Hill Assist features are completely unnecessary. They believe that all drivers quickly learn to perform hill starts effectively in the early days when they start driving.

Final Thoughts

To summarize everything that this article covered, Hill Hold and Hill Assist are the same thing. They are names chosen by different auto manufacturers to represent the same feature which aids the driver when performing hill starts.

Despite the differences in names, those features offer the same benefits. While the vehicle is on a slope, the feature will keep the brakes engaged even when you let go of the brake pedal. Doing so buys the driver time to operate the clutch or accelerate forward instead of letting the car roll backwards.

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