What is Hill Descent Control?

  • How does Hill Descent Control work?
  • Do I need it?
  • Parkers explains the tech
  • How does Hill Descent Control work?
  • Do I need it?
  • Parkers explains the tech

What is it?

Hill Descent Control – or HDC – is a function that allows a set speed to be maintained when driving off the beaten track. Think of it like an off-road cruise control and you’re about there.

How does Hill Descent Control work?

The idea is to keep the car travelling at a chosen speed with combined use of engine braking and autonomously applying the anti-lock braking system on each individual wheel as required.

This removes the need to operate the brakes manually, minimising the chance of skidding, allowing the driver to focus on steering the vehicle along their intended path.

Hill Descent Control can be used when the gearbox is engaged in a forward or reverse gear in most cases.

Deactivating Hill Descent Control

The most straightforward method is to manually press the HDC button again.

Depending on the make and model of vehicle, HDC is also deactivated after driving above a particular speed or selecting a different gear.

For instance, HDC in certain Volvos only works when the automatic gearlever is slotted into 1. Move this into D and this automatically deactivates the function.

How fast can you go with Hill Descent Control?

How the driver controls the speed limit also differs between each vehicle.

Land Rover uses the cruise control buttons to increase or decrease speed, while SEAT requires the driver to modulate speed by using the accelerator pedal.

Found on…

Launched on the original Land Rover Freelander in 1997, the number of cars offering Hill Descent Control has dramatically increased, including Audi, BMW, Ford, Skoda, Toyota and Volvo.

Also known as

Downhill Assist Control.

Looking for more jargon-busting motoring meanings? Head over to our Parkers Car Glossary page and take a look at our other definitions