How to Park on a Hill

which way to turn the wheel when parking on a hill

Quick answer:

It is wise to use your parking brake any time you park, but especially when you are parking on a hill. Before you turn off the car, it’s important to angle the wheels to prevent your car from rolling into traffic if your parking brake fails.

• When parking downhill, turn the steering wheel to the right (toward the curb).
• When parking uphill, turn the steering wheel to the left (toward the street).
Important: if there is no curb when parking uphill, you should turn the wheel to the right, instead (read more below).

More details on parking on a hill:

Which way do you turn your wheels when parking uphill?

Turning your wheels when parking on a hill is for your safety and the safety of others (both driver and pedestrians). What happens if your parking brake fails, or if you forget to put the car in park and take your foot of the brake pedal? With your tires properly aligned, your car will simply be stopped by the curb instead of rolling into traffic.
So, turn your wheel to the right when facing downhill, and to the left when facing uphill.

how do you park uphill

Parking uphill without a curb

Important: if there is no curb when facing uphill (for instance, on a country or residential road), you should do the opposite, and turn the wheel to the right. If your brakes malfunction, this parking technique will still send your car in the desired direction – by curving it off the road and not into oncoming cars.

Prevent tire curbing tickets!

Knowing how to park uphill will also potentially save you some money! Especially in hill-ridden cities like San Francisco, which treat the offense seriously and ticket accordingly. A California ticket for not turning your tires on a hill will run you about $48. It’s important when uphill parking to leave enough room between your tires and the curb to allow space for the wheel to turn for optimal protection. “I was too close to the curb for my wheels to turn very much” is not a valid defense for a tire curbing citation.

But even if your city or state doesn’t write citations for not turning your wheels on a hill, it’s a smart habit to pick up no matter where you park.

Written by Peter V.
Peter is an L.A.-based designer, blogger and daily commuter. He explores what causes parking to suck in urban environments, how to bring about parking regulation changes, and the latest advancements in parking tech.