From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hill-holder is a motor vehicle device that holds the brake until the clutch is at the friction point, making it easier for a stationary vehicle to start uphill. By holding the brake in position while the vehicle is put into gear, it prevents rollback. It was invented by Wagner Electric and manufactured by Bendix Brake Company in South Bend, Indiana.

It was first introduced in 1936 as an option for the Studebaker President. By 1937 the device, called "NoRoL" by Bendix, was available on Hudson, Nash and many other cars. Studebaker[1] and many other carmakers offered the device as either optional or standard equipment for many years. In modern usage, this driver-assistance system is also called hill-hold control (HHC), hill-start assist (HSA) or hill-start assist control (HAC).


As a trade name, it was introduced by Studebaker in the 1936 President. It was also promoted by Studebaker as an option in the 1939 model year. Later, the technology became available on a variety of modern automobiles, starting with the 2005-onwards Volkswagen Passat, 2011-onwards Volkswagen Jetta, and 2004-onwards Volkswagen Phaeton and Touareg. It is further available on the Subaru Forester,[2] Subaru Impreza and Subaru Legacy. The 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8[3] also comes equipped with hill-holder.

Similar systems are or were in use by Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Fiat (including the new Fiat 500), BMW, Škoda Superb 2009, Lancia, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Lamborghini Aventador, Saab, Smart ("Hill Start Assist"), Subaru.

Pre-WWII Cadillac ("NoRol") and Stutz ("Noback") were offered with the technology as an option.

The mechanism was available in American car parts stores so that car owners could add to their vehicle to improve it from the late 1930s through the 1950s. But it required that the car have hydraulic brakes, so it could not be added to Ford Motor Company products before 1939. In 1949 it became available on factory-built Fords.

Cars with hill-holder feature
Make Model Year Note Reference
VinFast Fadil
LUX A2.0
2019 [4]
Subaru Outback 2003-2014 above
Subaru Impreza 2003 above
Subaru Leone 1984-1994 above
Subaru Legacy 1989-2015 above
Subaru Forester July 2005 above
Subaru Vortex (XT) 1985-2001 above
Dodge Challenger SRT8 2009 [3]
Alfa Romeo 159 2005 [7]
Fiat 500 Sport 2011 [8]
Ford Fiesta 2012-Current [9]
Chevrolet Sonic 2012 [10][11]
Honda CR-Z 2012 Called "Hill Start Assist" [12]
Honda Fit and Fit Hybrid 2015 (NOT 2013) [13]
Chevrolet Spark 2013 Called "Hill Start Assist" [14]
Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo 2011 Called "Hill Start Assist" [15]
Mercedes-Benz GL320 2008 [16]
Mercedes-Benz M-Class 2012 [11]
MINI Cooper Part of Dynamic Stability Control [17]
Toyota RAV4EV 2012-2014 Called "Hill-start assist control" [18]
Volkswagen Passat 2005+ [19]
Volkswagen Jetta 2011+
Volkswagen Phaeton 2004+
Volkswagen Touareg 2004+
Audi A3 2012 [11]
Kia Soul 2012+ Called "Hill Start Assist" [11]
Mazda CX-3, 5, 7, Mazda3, Mazda6, MX-5 2013+ [20][21][22]
BMW 5 Series 2012 Called "Drive-off assistant" [11]
Mahindra e2o 2013 Electric car [23]
Lada Vesta 2015 - current
BMW 3-Series 2007+ Called "Drive-off assistant" [24]


In layman’s terms, the modern hill-holder function works by using two sensors, in concert with the brake system on the vehicle. The first sensor measures the forward-facing incline (nose higher than tail) of the vehicle, while the second is a disengaging mechanism. The 1930s-1950s NoRoL used a ball bearing as a check valve in the hydraulic brake line; when the car was on an uphill incline, the ball rolled back and blocked the brake line - when the car was level or facing downhill, the ball rolled away, leaving the line free. The clutch linkage slightly dislodged the ball when the clutch was released, enabling the car to move away from a stop.

Manual transmission vehicles[edit]

When the driver stops the vehicle on an incline where the nose of the car is sufficiently higher than the rear of the car, the system is engaged when the driver's foot is depressing the brake pedal, and then the clutch pedal is fully depressed. Once set, the driver must keep the clutch pedal fully depressed but may remove the foot from the brake pedal. To disengage the system and move the car forward, the driver selects first gear, gently depresses the gas pedal, and slowly releases the clutch pedal which at a point in its travel releases the braking system, allowing the car to proceed.

Automatic transmission vehicles[edit]

In an automatic transmission vehicle, the car is equipped with a tilt sensor that, when it reaches a certain angle or greater, tells the brake system to keep the brakes clamped for a few seconds longer after the driver releases the brake. This allows time for the driver to depress the accelerator, moving the vehicle forward.


Hill-holder works best for those who are inexperienced with manual shift techniques, or in situations with heavy traffic in steep hilly conditions (as in San Francisco, or Duluth for example).

However the same technique can be accomplished by a driver through the use of the manual parking brake lever, coordinated with the brake, clutch, gear shift and accelerator. This is a standard technique in most countries where manual transmissions remain popular, for example the UK. Cars equipped with a parking brake pedal are not suited for this maneuver unless it is released by hand, for example in the Citroën XM.


  1. ^ the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide. "HowStuffWorks "1939 Studebaker Champion Success"". Auto.howstuffworks.com. Archived from the original on 2017-04-26. Retrieved 2011-01-22. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  2. ^ "Subaru Drive Magazine: Summer 2002". Drive.subaru.com. Archived from the original on 2006-11-29. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  3. ^ a b "2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8". Driving Sports. 2009-07-15. Archived from the original on 2010-12-22. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  4. ^ "Brochure Fadil" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-08-05. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  5. ^ Brochure A2.0
  6. ^ "Brochure SA2.0" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-08-05. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  7. ^ "Tenuta di strada: piacere di guida e sicurezza attiva". 2005-06-13. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  8. ^ "2012 FIAT 500 Long Term Road Test". September 26, 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Ford Fiesta Owner's Manual" (PDF). Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  10. ^ Marc Carter (December 22, 2011). "REVIEW: 2012 Honda Fit is "Fit" for the City". Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d e http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1065989_2012-family-cars-with-hill-hold-assist. Retrieved 30 November 2013. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Hill Start Assist | 2013 Honda CR-Z | Honda Owners Site". Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  13. ^ "Honda Worldwide | September 5, 2013 "Honda to Release all-New Fit and Fit Hybrid in Japan"". Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  14. ^ "2013 Chevrolet Spark". 23 August 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  15. ^ "Passion". Archived from November 2013 the original on 2014-08-19. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  16. ^ "Autotrader - page unavailable". Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  17. ^ "MINI Cooper Features". Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  18. ^ "2014 Toyota RAV4EV Owners Manual, page 256" (PDF). Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  19. ^ http://api.miniusa.com/top-feature-cooper-coupe-dynamic-stability.html. Retrieved 30 November 2013. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ "CardinaleWay Mazda Corona About Us | Mazda dealer in Corona CA". Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  21. ^ "Redbook 2014 Mazda 6". Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  22. ^ "Mazda3 Owners Manual". Retrieved 30 October 2023.
  23. ^ Mahindra Electric – Pioneers Of Electric Mobility In India
  24. ^ "BMW 2007 Owner Manual" (PDF). BMW. 2006.