Hill hold control in cars: Check cars with hill assist in India

Team AckodriveMay 21, 2024

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Driving a car can be a daunting task, particularly when navigating uphill or descending a steep slope. For beginner drivers, the challenge is amplified when attempting to move the car from a stationary position on an incline. However, with the aid of hill-hold control, the task becomes much simpler. In this article, we will provide all details of this driver-assist feature, focusing particularly on its application in cars equipped with hill-hold control in India. Keep reading to gain a thorough understanding of this technology.

hill start assist

What is hill-hold control in cars?

Hill-hold control refers to a driver assistance feature that prevents the car from rolling backwards on an incline or uphill road when driving the vehicle from a stationary position. Typically, when moving the car uphill from a standstill position, the car will roll back once you release the brake and clutch and step on the accelerator. 

The problem becomes pronounced with inexperienced drivers. During such scenarios, the hill-hold control or hill-assist control applies the brakes for a brief period to provide the extra time required to move the vehicle. The system eliminates the chances of the car rolling backwards due to the inclination.

List of 10 cars with hill assist control in India

Here’s the list of 10 hill assist cars in India. Note that different manufacturers may have different terms for this driver assistance feature but the function remains the same.

Model Price (ex-showroom Delhi) Mileage (ARAI)
Maruti Suzuki Celerio Rs. 5.37 lakhs to Rs. 7.09 lakhs 24.97 to 26.68 kmpl (CNG: 34.43 km/kg)
Renault Kiger Rs. 6 lakhs to 11.23 lakhs 18.24 to 20.5 kmpl
Maruti Suzuki Swift Rs. 8.43 lakhs to Rs. 9.28 lakhs 22.38 to 22.56 kmpl (CNG: 30.90 km/kg)
Maruti Suzuki Dzire Rs. 6.57 lakhs to Rs. 9.39 lakhs 22.41 to 22.61 kmpl (CNG: 31.12 km/kg)
Hyundai i20 Rs. 7.04 lakhs to 11.21 lakhs 16 to 20 kmpl
Hyundai Venue Rs. 7.94 lakhs to Rs. 13.48 lakhs 24.2 kmpl
Tata Nexon Rs. 8.15 lakhs to Rs. 15.80 lakhs 17.01 to 24.08 kmpl
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga Rs. 8.69 lakhs to Rs. 13.03 lakhs 20.3 to 20.51 kmpl (CNG: 26.11 km/kg)
Honda City Rs. 11.82 lakhs to Rs. 16.30 lakhs 17.8 to 18.4 kmpl
Mahindra Thar Rs. 11.25 lakhs to Rs. 17.60 lakhs 15.2 kmpl

*Prices are as of May 2024

How hill-assist control works

Hill-assist control works with the help of several sensors onboard the vehicle. There are different ways to implement the technology. Here are the most common techniques used to implement hill-start assist in cars.

1. Clutch detection

  • It is one of the most common methods that is predominantly used in manual gearbox cars. 

  • As the name suggests, the system detects the application of the clutch to engage hill start assist.

  • It is necessary to press the clutch pedal to start a manual transmission car. Doing so disengages the engine from the gearbox.

  • The car can roll freely when the clutch is engaged, as there is no engine braking.

  • When you accelerate the car, you have to disengage the brake and slowly release the clutch.

  • The car can roll backwards on an incline during that brief period of releasing the brake and clutch.

  • The system detects the application and release of the clutch pedal to activate hill hold control.

2. Incline detection

  • If the car is stopped at an incline, even with the engine running, it may roll back when you move the vehicle ahead.

  • In an incline detection system, a sensor measures the incline. 

  • If the inclination is beyond a certain degree, it sends a signal to activate the hill assist control, as the vehicle may start rolling due to the uphill surface.

  • One of the disadvantages of this system is that the hill start assist may activate at times when there is no need for it. For example, if the wheel dips into a pothole, there is no need for any driver assistance.

3. Engine torque detection

  • In this system, the sensors monitor the engine torque.

  • The sensor’s job is to detect whether the engine produces enough torque to propel the vehicle forward.

  • If there’s not enough torque, the car can roll backwards. During such situations, the hill-start assist will be engaged.

  • The hill hold control will be disabled if the engine produces sufficient torque.

4. Brake detection

  • In this system, the sensors detect if the brakes are applied.

  • When the brakes are engaged, the sensors also monitor the brake force.

  • If there’s insufficient brake force to hold the car in place, the hill start assist will be activated.

5. Backward roll detection

  • As the name suggests, the system detects if the vehicle is rolling backwards through sensors.

  • When the vehicle starts rolling backwards due to insufficient brake force, the sensors send a signal to the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) to activate the hill hold control.

6. Forward roll detection

  • This system comes into the picture if you try to reverse the vehicle on an uphill road.

  • When you slot the reverse gear, the system understands that you are moving the vehicle backwards.

  • If the vehicle rolls forward when you release the brakes and clutch, the hill start assist will hold the brakes for a few seconds so that you can smoothly accelerate.

Hill-start control components

Hill-hold control makes use of several components to work seamlessly. In this section, let's look at the system's essential components.

  • Angle sensor: It detects the incline angle when the car is on an uphill road. In other words, it measures how steep the incline is.

  • Pressure sensor: It is a sensor that measures the vehicle's weight, including the weight of the occupants and cargo. The sensor is part of the suspension system. The sensor works by producing an electrical signal that is proportional to the vehicle's weight.

  • Torque sensor: It detects how much torque the wheels receive from the drivetrain. The torque is responsible for propelling the vehicle. Hence, it's one of the crucial components of the system.

  • Wheel-speed sensor: It monitors the wheels' speed and direction of rotation. It is typically installed on the vehicle's axles.

  • Brake actuator: It's an actuator device that receives a signal from the ECU to engage the brakes. Once the actuator gets a signal from the ECU, it activates the brake valves to engage the brakes. In a hybrid vehicle, the system may also use the electric motor to apply the stopping power to prevent the car from rolling backwards.

  • ECU (Electronic Control Unit): ECU can be referred to as the brain of a vehicle. It receives data from various sensors and controls the car's critical components. It also decides when to engage the hill hold assist after receiving information from the sensors. It can compute data like the vehicle's weight, rolling resistance, and inclination angle to decide whether to engage or disable hill hold control.

  • Clutch Actuator: The clutch actuator is responsible for electronically controlling the clutch pedal when the hill hold function is activated. It is connected to the hydraulic or electric clutch system. When the vehicle is stationary on an incline, the clutch actuator disengages the clutch to prevent stall when the system applies the brakes. The calibrated action of the clutch actuator prevents rollback.

  • Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor: The accelerator pedal position sensor monitors the precise pedal position based on how much the driver has pressed it. It uses potentiometers or Hall Effect sensors to detect the angle of the accelerator pedal. This input on driver intent is used by the hill hold system to determine when to release the brakes and engage the clutch. 

  • Gear Position Sensor: The gear position sensor detects the current gear the driver selects - reverse, neutral or drive. Using magnetic, optical or resistive sensing, it identifies the exact gear position. This helps the hill start assist in activating only when the vehicle is in drive gear and avoids unwanted activation in reverse or neutral. 

  • Gyroscopic Sensor: The gyroscopic sensor measures orientation, rotational speed and tilt angle in three axes using a continuously rotating wheel and sophisticated MEMS technology. It provides highly precise real-time data on the vehicle’s spatial orientation and slope angle.

Benefits of hill-hold control

Here are the advantages of hill-start assist in cars.

  • It makes driving easier in tricky situations, such as moving the car uphill. Hence, it creates a safe driving environment, especially for beginner drivers who drive a manual transmission car.

  • The hill hold control is helpful for the driver and other motorists on the road. The traffic behind your car will be safe as your vehicle will not roll backwards on an uphill road.

  • The hill assist system also reduces the wear and tear of specific components such as the handbrake, brakes, and clutch plates. Since the driver assistance system works efficiently, certain car parts will not be under unnecessary load.

  • The hill-hold function reduces fatigue for the driver, as they don't have to continually work the handbrake and clutch when starting on an incline. This feature allows the driver to relax their legs on uphill starts, making driving less tiring.

  • Hill-hold prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards unintentionally when the driver switches from brake to accelerator on a slope. This helps avoid collisions with other vehicles close behind.

  • By automating clutch and brake control on inclines, hill-hold allows for a smooth and stress-free driving experience. The driver can focus on steering and acceleration.

  • For new drivers still getting used to coordinating the clutch, brake and accelerator, hill-start assist is very helpful. It compensates for any lack of experience in hill starts and builds confidence.

How do you use hill-assist in a car?

To use hill-start assist in your car, you need not follow any special procedure as the system functions automatically. Generally, the hill-hold control will be an automatic function. However, some cars may have a button to toggle the system on or off. In that case, you may have to ensure that you switch on the system for it to work. Otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward, and you can continue driving as you normally do.

There’s a slight difference between driving a manual car and an automatic car with a hill-assist system. The following section explains the same.

With a manual transmission

Here are the steps to drive your manual car with hill assist control while stopped on an incline.

Step 1: Press the brake pedal and engage the clutch simultaneously.

Step 2: Shift to 1st gear if the transmission is in the “Neutral” position.

Step 3: Lift off your foot from the brake pedal. Gradually release the clutch while accelerating steadily.

Step 4: With the hill-hold control, the car shouldn’t roll back until you accelerate.

Manual cars with hill assist in India

Here are the manual cars that come with the hill-hold control function in India.

  • Tata Nexon

  • Hyundai i20

  • Honda City

With an automatic transmission

Here are the steps you can follow if you drive an automatic transmission car.

Step 1: Press the brake pedal and start the car.

Step 2: Shift the gear knob to the “Drive” or D position.

Step 3: Release the brake and step on the accelerator to drive ahead.

Step 4: The car shouldn’t roll back until you accelerate, as the hill start assist will hold the brakes for a few seconds.

Automatic cars with hill assist in India

Here’s the list of automatic cars in India with hill-hold control.

  • Maruti Suzuki Celerio

  • Maruti Suzuki Dzire

  • Maruti Suzuki Swift

  • Hyundai Venue

  • Maruti Suzuki Ertiga

How do you make a hill start going downhill?

To make a hill start going downhill, you can follow the same steps as for an uphill start the only difference is you need not apply too much throttle, as the car will start rolling automatically due to the slope. Ensure that you are in the right gear. The engine braking will control the speed. There’s a lot less risk of stalling the car when going downhill, and it’s much easier than driving on an uphill road.

Does the hill-start assist work on every hill?

The hill-start assist should work on every incline, provided the system is working correctly. However, in some extreme conditions, such as a very steep inclination, the hill hold control may fail to stop the vehicle from rolling back. But that may happen if the gradient is too extreme.

Is auto hold the same as hill start assist?

Auto hold and hill start assist are two different safety features in a car. As far as hill hold control is concerned, it will hold the brakes for only a few seconds. Once you release the brake and clutch, you only have a few seconds to accelerate before the brake releases.

On the other hand, the auto-hold function holds the brake automatically for an unlimited time. The auto-hold will release the brakes only when you step on the accelerator pedal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most commonly asked questions and their answers regarding hill hold control in cars.

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Is the hill assist safety feature necessary to drive a car?

Unlike airbags and seat belts, hill-start assist is not a necessary safety feature for a car. However, it's good to have hill hold control in a vehicle because it makes it much easier to drive a car on an uphill road. It will also make driving easy for novice or beginner drivers.

How do I determine if my car has the hill assist safety feature?

You can refer to your car's owner's manual to know if it has the hill hold control function. Alternatively, you can also visit the car manufacturer's official website and refer to the brochure to find out if it has the hill start assist function.

Do all automatic cars come with the hill hold control feature?

Not all automatic cars will have the hill hold control feature. However, most modern automatic cars come with a hill assist function, at least as an optional feature.

Does the hill assist function work when reversing the car?

Yes, the hill-hold control works when reversing on an inclined road provided your car has the hill start assist function. When you slot into the reverse gear, the system detects that you are trying to reverse on an inclined surface, and the hill hold control will hold the brake for a few seconds.

Can I install hill assist safety equipment on my car?

Technically you can install hill hold control in your old car. But it is not recommended to go for an aftermarket system. Moreover, installing such a system can be expensive and may void the manufacturer's warranty on the vehicle. Hence, it's better to buy a car that comes with a factory-fitted hill assist system. 

Which are the affordable latest cars with hill assist in India?

Maruti Suzuki Celerio, Maruti Suzuki Wagon R, Renault Kiger, and Maruti Suzuki Swift are some of the least expensive cars in India with hill hold control assist.

Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only. It is recommended to take the help of an expert before making a decision. ACKO Drive is not responsible for any action taken based on the information mentioned here.

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