Most drivers know how to turn their wheels when parking uphill with a curb. They do that so the car won’t roll back downhill if the brakes fail. But what do you do if the hill doesn’t have a curb? What way should you turn your wheels, then?
You must turn your wheels to the right when parking uphill without a curb. Wheels in that direction will send the car moving away from the center of the road if the brakes fail. Instead, the car will roll and turn towards the side of the road to minimize any damage or injury.
In this guide, you’ll first learn why turning your wheels is crucial when parking uphill. Then you’ll learn which way to turn them if there is no curb to rest on, and also discover a few additional ways to secure your car in its parking spot.
Why Must You Turn Your Wheels When Parking Uphill?
Before we dive deeper into how you should turn your wheels when parking uphill, let’s take a step back and talk about the ‘why’ of it all.
So, why must you turn your wheels when parking on a hill, to begin with?
You must never park on a hill or a slope with your wheels pointing forward. That’s because no matter how secure your car is, there’s always a tiny chance the brakes could fail.
When that happens, the straight wheels will send your car rolling backwards as it’s pulled by gravity. Then, your vehicle will gain momentum, speeding up to hit anything or anyone in its path.
For that reason, you must always park with your wheels turned to the side. Turning your wheels ensures that your car will roll and turn to the side, thereby minimizing any damage it might cause to other road users.
In many cases, you can also use the curb by resting the back of your turning wheel against it. That way, the curb will secure the wheel and prevent it from rolling back at all.
But what happens if there is no curb on the hill you’re parking on? Which way should you turn your wheels to keep the car safe?
That’s what the next section will teach you.
What Way Should You Turn Your Wheels When Parking Uphill If There’s No Curb?
When you park your vehicle uphill and have no curb to rest on, you must fully turn your wheel to the right.
If your brakes fail and your car rolls backwards, that wheel position ensures the vehicle will roll away from the road center and towards the side instead. In other words, your vehicle won’t roll directly into traffic, nor will it roll back into other parked cars behind it.
You might notice that this is the complete opposite way to turn your wheels if there was a curb on that hill. You should turn your wheel to the left on a curbed hill instead. That’s because the car will turn toward the curb, and that will stop the vehicle dead in its tracks.
That left-pointing wheel is dangerous without a curb to stop it because the car will roll directly into the middle of the road and into traffic.
So, when there is no curb on the hill, you must park with your wheels turned to the right.
Is It Illegal Not To Turn Your Wheels When Parking Uphill?
Yes, it is illegal not to turn your wheels when parking uphill in many locations across the country. That’s because parking on a hill increases the risk of a brake system failure in the vehicle.
Gravity continuously pulls your vehicle downhill, and even more so if you’ve got a lot of cargo onboard and the car or truck is heavy.
Whether you’re parked going uphill or downhill, failed breaks will send your vehicle into other parked cars or even into pedestrians.
Given the risk of property damage, injury, and loss of life, many cities make it illegal to park on a hill with straight wheels. Those rules and regulations are typically enforced with expensive fines you’ll have to pay if you do not comply.
You can tell if it’s illegal not to turn your wheels when parking uphill by looking around at the street signs. In many cases, locations with designated parking spots on steep hills will place signs reminding you to turn your wheels.
Still, whether or not it’s illegal, you should always turn your wheels correctly when parking on a slope. That’s to protect your vehicle and prevent it from causing damage and injury to other people and their property.
How Else Can You Secure Your Car When Parking On A Hill?
Turning your wheels to the right when parking on a hill with no curb is one of the most important ways to secure the vehicle against a possible brake failure.
However, there are other ways that you keep it from experiencing or causing damage in that scenario.
Here are a few other ways you can keep your car safe when parking on a hill:
- Parking brakes: Of course, you’ll engage your parking brakes (also called the e-brakes or emergency brakes) when parking on a hill; that’s a given. More importantly, you must pull on the handbrake hard enough to ensure it’s not just partially engaged.
- Parking gear: In an automatic transmission car, another way to keep your car secure on a hill is to put the transmission into Park. That will lock the transmission and prevent the vehicle from moving. However, you must use this together with the parking brake to avoid overburdening the transmission.
- First gear: Cars with manual transmissions will benefit from being parked while in first gear. Leaving it in gear keeps the wheels connected to the engine, where the compression will help stop the wheels from moving.
- Wheel chocks: Last but not least, you can also use wheel chocks. These are durable objects that you wedge underneath each wheel to prevent them from moving at all. Wheel chocks are optional for passenger vehicles, but they’re a must-have for heavier vans and trucks.
As you can see, turning your wheels to the right and engaging your parking brakes are the bare minimum when parking uphill without a curb. Those are sufficient to secure most vehicles and prevent them from rolling down the hill.
However, you also have plenty of other ways to keep your car secured in its parking spot. Those methods include leveraging the vehicle’s transmission system and using physical objects (wheel chocks) to secure each wheel individually.
Overall, you should always remember to turn your wheels when parking on a hill. Regardless of whether or not there’s a curb, turning your wheels prevents the car from sliding downhill if the brakes fail.
Since there’s no curb to rely on, you must turn your wheels to the right. That way, if your car rolls downhill, it’ll move away from the center of the road. Doing so avoids causing damage to other vehicles or hitting pedestrians.
You must also secure your car by using the parking brakes. Be sure to engage that brake fully, as a partially-engaged one will not be enough to secure your vehicle in its parking spot. Besides that, you can also leave your car in Park (automatics) or first gear (manuals), so the transmission prevents your wheels from turning.