I have an automatic Chevy Cruze 2013 and when I stop on an upward slope for a stop sign or red light, I need to press the brake pedal to ensure the car doesn't roll backward, if I lift the foot off the throttle with the shifter in Drive.

However, I noticed that a Honda Civic 2015 will stay in place even if I don't press the brake pedal, while the foot is off the throttle.

Is the way the Civic works by design? And if so, does it mean there is something wrong with the Chevy? Are there any standards regarding this scenario?

3 Answers 3


Honda calls their system Hill Start Assist. Sensors in the car can judge if your vehicle is on a hill and will continue to engage the brakes after you've released the pedal until you press on the gas and the forward momentum starts. It very well may be there by design on the Civic, but is not a given. You'd have to check with Honda to see if any given vehicle has the Hill Start Assist.

Not all manufacturers or even models of vehicles have Hill Start Assist (or whatever the manufacturer wants to call it). My 2018 Silverado has it (though I don't know what it's called for my truck) as well as hill descent assist, which uses engine braking to control the speed of my truck while going down a grade. This helps prevent the vehicle's brakes from getting over taxed and fading/failing. My truck lets me know when it's in hill start assist mode, but I have to manually select the hill descent mode.

Bottom line here is, not all vehicles come with it. To my knowledge there's no Federal standards or regulations for hill assist, at least here in the US. There may be something local to the locality you live in, but I really doubt it. To me, this is just an additional feature which you'd have to look for when purchasing a vehicle. IOW: I doubt there's anything wrong with you Chevy.

  • I recall even my old 2001 Accord had this feature.
    – BillDOe
    Aug 5, 2019 at 21:18

It's probably either a hill hold system, or the hill is so slight in inclination that your torque converter keeps you in place.

Either way, it's by design. The torque converter is the component that ensures your car will creep forwards on level ground when you release the brake but don't press the throttle. This works for hills that are not steep.

For steep hills, there may be a hill hold system that continues to apply the brakes until you press the throttle enough to start moving the car.

My 2016 Toyota RAV4 hybrid doesn't have a torque converter, but the electric motors emulate a torque converter vehicle so it will creep forwards when on level ground.

There is a hill hold system too in my 2016 Toyota RAV4 hybrid: it applies the brakes until you press the throttle enough.

Anyway, I wouldn't rely on either of the systems holding the car perfectly standstill when stopped for extended periods. For extended periods, you should lightly press the brake. The hill hold system is merely intended to allow you enough time to move your foot from the brake pedal to the throttle.

  • This is in San Francisco, so probably some of the steepest streets anywhere. And no, I don't rely on this to hold the car in position, I always use the brake.
    – Ady
    Aug 5, 2019 at 15:55

Aside from possibly working "by design" on newer cars, it was often the case that older automatic-transmission cars without any special features would hold on all but the steepest hills. Others wouldn't. In my experience it seems to be a matter of idle RPMs. I don't have any data to back this up, but it's likely that it only worked due to idling higher than they really should for emissions/fuel efficiency purposes, and that special features introduced in newer cars were not introduced as a "new feature" but to make up for loss of existing functionality due to improvements to emissions/fuel efficiency.

(Improvements to efficiency per power, that is; present-day cars are barely better, if better at all, than 20-30 year old vehicles in overall fuel efficiency.)

  • 1
    The "hold" feature is not the same as what you describe. In fact, using the transmission itself to hold a vehicle on a hill will cause damage to the transmission. Just as was said in the article I linked to, at least Honda uses the brakes to hold the vehicle. I could also see some kind of sprague in use as well. Aug 6, 2019 at 0:34
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2: I know it's not the same and didn't mean to imply that it is. I meant rather than some drivers were probably used to being able to let go of the brake without rolling backwards down a hill due to the transmission holding them, which in turn seems to have been dependent on idle RPM, and that the hold feature is probably, at least partly, to avoid changes in idle RPM or other engine/transmission characteristics being a "regression for them". Aug 6, 2019 at 0:52
  • And even though it is bad for the transmission to hold it there for a long time, which I would hope most drivers know, there's still a momentary hold between releasing the brake and pressing the accelerator that's helpful to drivers. Rolling backwards there can be really disconcerting/dangerous if you're not good at handling it. Aug 6, 2019 at 0:54
  • Gotcha ... agreed. Aug 6, 2019 at 1:06

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