"Overstress" a car on a steep driveway?

A friend claimed that on the way home from our house, where we have a fairly
steep driveway, the lights in the dashboard started
blinking on and off and the car “died” every time she came to a stop. The
mechanic couldn’t find a cause, so blamed it on the “stress” to the car’s
system from going up the hill. Do you think this is a possibility? Many

No. …


If the engine or transmission performance is compromised for some reason, for example low fluid levels, then driving up a steep hill might produce problems that otherwise wouldn’t be noticed. I expect you already know this isn’t something that should happen if the car is maintained & working properly. I’ve driven up the steepest paved road in the SF Bay Area in my Corolla before, with no adverse consequences, no warning lights, afterward, or during. Lights will flash on and off on the dashboard in any car when the engine is about to stall out. Those are the lights that come on automatically with the key in "on’ but the engine not running. The light part of that is normal, but the stalling isn’t of course.

I’ll add that driving up a steep hill every trip starting with a cold engine could eventually cause problems that wouldn’t occur if you drove downhill on the start of every drive until the engine warmed up.

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George, the question was did the hill cause stress to vehicle as the mechanic stated ( entirely bogus ) and the answer is No! So why add all that other stuff and confuse the person.


Bless her little heart!

I have to ask…
Do you own a car or cars that use the driveway?

Do the lights in the dashboard blink on and off and the car dies every time you came to a stop?

Next! :smile:

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I suspect that the mechanic is the one that’s overstressed… :smile:

Seriously, unless the gas tank is almost empty and the hill caused the gas to slosh to the end of the tank and away from the pump’s pickup, a healthy car should not stall on a driveway incline, whether ascending or descending.
Note that I emboldened the word “healthy”. Perhaps it’s time for a tuneup for your friend’s car.

In reality, your friend should describe the symptoms to a good, reputable, independently owned-and-operated shop and let the mechanic diagnose it. It could be as simple as a defective power brake booster check valve or vacuum line.


If this were true, nobody could ever win the Pike’s Peak hill climb because nobody could make it to the top.

The poorer the quality of the mechanic, the more likely they are to make up some outrageous nonsense to cover up their inability to find the problem. Only the really good ones have the confidence in their ability to once in a while shrug their shoulders and say “I don’t know”


The mechanic who said this is either severely misguided and ignorant or is totally sane and simply and knowingly making up BS so as to scoot the customer on down the road and out of his hair.

The complaint is a bit sparse but what about this. The engine idle speed is dropping abnormally low for whatever reason (vacuum leak, IAC valve issue, etc, etc) and the blinking lights are the oil and alternator lights blinking on and off due to the idle speed being so low.

If so, that’s not the end of the world.


Hopefully this “friend” won’t try to pass on a repair bill.

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Yeah we have cars and they do fine. So do other people’s cars. Thanks for your reply!

Thanks for your reply!

Thanks everyone for your replies! I appreciate your input!

This is the kind of problem that is very difficult to troubleshoot because it occurs under a specific set of circumstances that are difficult to duplicate in the shop.

My first question is that you wrote driveway but the rest of your post indicates that it is a steep road or street with a stop sign in the middle or near the top. If it is a driveway, like the driveway leading up to your garage or house, then please clear that up.

Because the dash lights blink, that sort of sound like an electrical problem and electrical problems like this can take a long time to isolate, costing many hours of the mechanics time and many dollars from your friends wallet.

BUT, I do have one more question, does your friend have a heavy key ring? Like are there a lot of keys on it or other devices that add a lot of weight? This could be the problem if the key ring pulls on the ignition key. This is most likely to happen with GM vehicles because of a small design error in the ignition lock.

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This situation reminds me of someone whom I knew years ago, who was having drivability problems with his Chevette. (Yeah, I know…:smirk:)
Anyway, the drivability problems were taking place during really hot weather, and the first mechanic to whom he took the car told him, “You’re probably using the A/C too much”.

Under that theory, what–exactly–is the limit of how long/how often one is supposed to use a car’s A/C?

I advised him to take the car to a different shop and they were able to repair it, although I no longer recall what the exact nature of the problem might have been. And, of course he was able to use the A/C as much as he wanted, as long as he didn’t mind the car’s normally snail-like acceleration to become even slower when the A/C was turned on.


Let me try to be clearer. The driveway up to my house is s series of 4 short, but steep hills but there isn’t a stop sign on it. The trouble my friend had occurred after leaving the driveway, on the way back to her place.Thanks for your reply.

**THIS SEEMS like your mechanic is trying for a quick easy buck nothing should change unless yo have a 45 degree hill or driveway and even then no change those engines have oil baffle plates to stop this from happening **

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Have you asked her about the key ring? Is it heavy?

I never got raked over the coals by the boss more than when I did exactly that.

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