How To Do a Burnout

How To Do a Burnout

It only seemed appropriate to make our very first post on about how to get a little tail happy in your rear wheel drive vehicle.

Accordingly, this page will teach you precisely how to do a burnout in your manual or automatic transmission car (whether its Rear Wheel Drive, Front Wheel Drive, or All Wheel Drive) and we’ll even show you the best video on the internet about how to burnout (embedded below, but read this page for more tips and warnings!).
how to do a burnout final step
1. First things first, you’ll need to have a car with sufficient power to do a burnout. Ideally you want a vehicle with rear wheel drive – any modern muscle car, or sports car should do the trick. It’s probably the most fun to learn how to do a burnout in a read wheel drive car though!

Tip: If you don’t have access to a high power vehicle (and/or you don’t want to shred the tires to pieces) you may want to consider finding a surface with reduced traction (i.e. a wet road) to help you get the tires spinning.

Doing a burnout is all about sending a jolt of power to the wheels/tires that disrupts the tires grip to the surface it’s sitting on.

2. The second thing you’ll want to do when learning how to do a burnout is find a wide open parking lot, or somewhere safe you can practice doing a burnout without crashing your car.
how to burnout
The last thing you want to do is crash your vehicle into a stationary object if the tires unexpectedly gain traction, or you lose control of the car. We’ve all see the videos on youtube of noobies trying to drift or get a little tail happy in a parking lot, then the next thing you know they crash straight into a light pole, or they slide the back end of the car into a curb and snap the rear axle off of the car!

Trust me, no one intentionally crashes their car in “open lots” like this. It’s EASY to think or anticipate your vehicle is going to take one line of motion, but something completely different happens. Again, NO ONE crashes intentionally (in their right mind) so don’t think you are invincible to making a mistake like the noob in the random youtube video you saw did – give yourself room for error and play it safe to start.

Crashing your car while trying to learn how to do a burnout is a mistake you probably cannot afford to make, especially if you’re sneaking out in mom’s beamer or dad’s ‘vette without permission! (or even with permission)

Ok, I’m not your mom (but don’t say you weren’t forewarned of potential hazards!)

Now that you have a car, and a place to practice doing a burnout it’s time for the fun part.

3. Make sure you turn off ALL traction control systems! You’ll be making a fool of yourself if you try to learn how to do a burnout with traction control on! The vehicle simply will not allow you to get the tires spinning with traction control on, unless MAYBE if you are in the snow or on ice.

how to do a burnout - step 2 - turn off traction control

Your best bet is to turn off traction control and also turn off stability control. This should ensure none of the on-board safety features of the car automatically start applying the brakes, or cutting power to the engine. Most modern cars are very effective at keeping the tires from spinning out of control. Stability control will help you in the case you get a little bit too tail happy – the idea is to prevent you from spinning out. (stability control can actually apply brakes selectively to any of the 4 wheels individually to keep the car moving the way the steering wheel is pointed).

Ok, now that you have your car, a place to practice, traction control’s off, and stability control’s off, you’re just about ready.

But before we start doing burnout’s lets go over something that is relatively important to understand.

Doing a burnout on COLD tires will be much easier than on HOT tires. The more burnouts you attempt to do, and the more you spin the tires, the HOTTER the tires are going to get and the STICKIER they are going to get.

Have you ever watched a race at a drag strip or at the track? Why do you think the drag racers do a burnout before they pull up to the line and run the quarter mile track?

You got it – to warm the tires up and make them sticky as glue!

This is the same reason you’ll see NASCAR racers “swerving” back and forth before the race begins. It’s to get those front tires stretching via friction, which will warm them up for better grip on the track when they hit those corners at insanely high speeds!

Also, as you are doing a burnout, you’ll want to keep in mind the longer you do a burnout for, the hotter the tires are going to get! If you do a burnout for too long you can severely overheat the tires and cause significant damage to them, or even cause the rubber to melt!

Okay, with that being said, you are now ready to do a burnout in your car.

The first scenario we’ll cover here is doing a burnout in a rear-wheel drive car with a manual transmission – read this section EVEN if you’re vehicle setup is a bit different!

Rear wheel drive with a manual transmission is the ideal setup to do a burnout in a car, but it’s definitely possible to do a burnout in a front wheel drive car, all-wheel drive (much trickier), or any variations of these drive trains with an automatic transmission as well.

If you’re more of a visual learner you may want to watch this video that teaches how to do a burnout, but we still highly recommend you continue reading the steps on this page too!

This video pretty much covers everything you need to know to learn how to do a burnout, but we have some additional insight listed in the following steps for various drive train configurations as well as transmission configurations.

How to do a burnout with a Rear Wheel Drive Manual Transmission car

Here are the steps to do a burnout in a RWD vehicle with a stick shift gear box.

Step 1: Make sure traction control is off.

Optional Step: Apply the “Line Lock” feature IF your car has it. (Most vehicle’s DO NOT have this feature)

Step 2: Push the clutch pedal down to the floor, and hold it to the floor.

Step 3: Put the car in first gear, while you still have the clutch pedal pushed to the floor.
how to do a burnout in a manual transmission
Step 4: Rev the engine rpm’s up. In most cases you’ll need to rev up to about 50%-90% of max RPM. For a car with a redline of 7000, this may be 3500 RPM to 6500 RPM. This part will really depend on how much Torque and Horsepower your car has, as well as how much traction the tires have on the surface you are on.

Ideally you want to rev the engine up just high enough to get a burnout started. You don’t necessarily want to drop the clutch at redline if you don’t have to, because the higher the RPM’s are when you drop the clutch the more stress you are going to be putting on the components of the vehicle – namely the clutch, the drive shaft, etc.

Step 5: The moment of truth – Drop the clutch and floor it. You want to almost instantly release the clutch while flooring the gas pedal. (Make sure you are 100% certain the clutch hooked up and the tires are spinning and NOT THE CLUTCH!)

Tip: The idea is to “shock” the drive train and disrupt the tires traction to the surface. If it’s a hot dry summer day, it’s going to take a lot more torque to get the tires spinning than say a cold rainy winter day.

Tip 2: The higher the RPM’s are when you drop the clutch, the more stress and strain you will be putting on the components of the car. This can include the Clutch, drive shaft, differential, axle, etc. If you’re in an older car that is a bit beat up, you might want to think twice about beating the car up too much as you may break something.

If you do this step properly the tires of the car should immediately lose traction and the car should not be moving forward much at all. If the car does launch forward, you didn’t send enough power to the rear wheels of the car to cause a burnout.

Chances are you did not have the RPM’s high enough, or you let the clutch out too slow, or your tires have really good traction to the surface they are on (or you forgot to turn off traction control).

Step 6: After you dropped the clutch and floor the gas pedal, immediately take your left foot and put it on the brake and start applying brake force to keep the car standing still (if you don’t have line lock on). Make sure to press the brake just barely hard enough to slow the car or stop it. DO NOT stomp on the brake pedal too hard, because it could lock up the wheels of the car and force the clutch to start slipping.

If the clutch is slipping there will be TERRIBLE burning smell (not like the smell of burning rubber) and there may even be smoke coming from the engine bay area. If this happens you can ruin the clutch of the car within seconds, and it may cost you thousands of dollars to have a new clutch installed. (so don’t f*ck this part up!)

Note: If your vehicle has a “line lock” feature you can use line lock instead of manually applying the brake pedal. Line Lock will apply the brakes to the front wheels only, which will very effectively and efficiently hold the car in place as you do a burnout on the rear wheels of the vehicle.

BIG TIP: After you “drop the clutch” (release it very quickly) and floor the gas pedal, you want to make 100% sure the clutch “hooked up” and the tires are spinning, and the clutch IS NOT burning up!

BIG TIP 2: You MAY want to adjust your mirrors so you can physically see the rear tires of the car. Other than the “feel of it” it may help you to actually see the tires spinning and kicking up smoke so you know it’s the tires spinning and not the clutch.

Also, you can look at the speedometer of the car, but this is not always true. Some cars measure speed of the front wheels, while other cars measure the speed of the rear wheels. If you are sitting still and the speedometer says 20mph, that means the rear tires are spinning 20 mph!

Step 7: Congratulations, you’re now doing a burnout! Now you can decide how long to do a burnout for. The longer you do a burnout for, the more you are going to be wearing down the tires, and the brake pads, and more engine heat may be building up in the engine bay.
how to do a burnout final step
Step 8: To end the burnout, the safest way is probably to just push the clutch back down to the floor to remove all power to the wheels of the vehicle, you can also let off the gas so you aren’t redlining the engine.

If you just let off the brake pedal and keep the gas to the floor, the tires will eventually gain traction, and you may launch forward extremely fast.

Also, the back end could get quite a bit tail happy and you could start swerving all over the road and crash. Your best bet is probably to just push that clutch in and let off the gas, especially if you are a noobie to all this burning out stuff – which might be true since you’re reading an article about how to do a burnout!

More tips:
If you’re having difficulty getting the tires to break loose and spin, you may want to consider attempting the burnout in a lower traction area.

A wet surface is a great place to learn how to do a burnout (especially if it is your first time attempting a burnout), or maybe even snow, or possible grass/dirt. Doing a burnout in gravel may cause reduced traction, but keep in mind you could be kicking up rocks into the painted surface of the rear of the car and ruining the body panels appearance!

Okay, that is the basic steps to follow to do a proper burnout. Now we’ll go over how to do a burnout in other types of cars; Front Wheel Drive, All Wheel Drive, and each of these configurations that are paired to an Automatic Transmission instead of stick shift.

How to do a burnout with a Front Wheel Drive Manual Transmission car

This is basically the same scenario as the previous section focused on the Rear wheel drive burnout, but one thing will be different!

Instead of using the normal brake pedal like in a Rear Wheel Drive car, you should use the “E-BRAKE” in a Front Wheel Drive car.

The e-brake will only apply braking power to the rear wheels of the car! This means you won’t have to wear your brake pads down at all when doing a burnout in a front wheel drive vehicle, nor will you have to overpower the force of the brakes like you may need to do in a rear wheel drive car.

One thing that may make it more difficult to do a burnout in a Front Wheel Drive vehicle is the fact that more weight will be over the drive wheels of the car since the heavy engine of your vehicle is likely in the front over the wheels.

Also, Front Wheel Drive cars generally have less torque and horsepower than Rear Wheel Drive cars (this is definitely not always the case) so it may be more difficult to get the tires spinning in the first place.

How to do a burnout with an ALL Wheel Drive car with a Manual Transmission

Doing a burnout in an ALL Wheel drive vehicle is BY FAR the most difficult to do, and in many cases it simply cannot be done (not the same way you can do a burnout in a two wheel drive car anyway) without finding a surface with significantly reduced traction!

This usually means SNOW or ICE!

The whole point of an all wheel drive vehicle is to grip the road like glue, and most of the time this is exactly what happens!

So lets look at the facts.

Typically an all wheel drive vehicle sends about 80% of its power to the REAR wheels, and only about 20% of the power to the front wheels.

Knowing this can help you on your quest to do a burnout in an all wheel drive vehicle, but it surely doesn’t guarantee anything.

Unless you have access to one of Ken Block’s GYMKHANA style car’s, doing a burnout in an AWD vehicle is going to be a uphill battle.

Again, your best bet is to try it on snow or ice.

One extreme measure you could take to attempt a burnout in an AWD car is to use a VERY strong tow cable and hitch it to a stationary object, or attempt the burnout on a steep uphill incline… but what’s the point?

If doing burnouts is a top concern for you, don’t get an AWD vehicle in the first place.

The greatest advantage of an all wheel drive car is the extreme grip straight off the line for launching, and superior handling on roads with tight twisties!

Simply put, All Wheel Drive cars were not built for learning how to burnout!

How to do a burnout in an AUTOMATIC transmission car

Doing a burnout in a automatic transmission car is a little bit different then in a stick shift, but the same principles apply.

The main difference, obviously, is there’s no clutch work involved in an automatic transmission.

In order to do a burnout in an automatic transmission find a good place to practice, turn off traction control, then do this:

How to do a burnout in an AUTOMATIC transmission car – REAR Wheel Drive

For rear wheel drive cars with an automatic transmission obviously make sure you turn off traction control then:

Step 1: Simply press on the brake with your left foot, and press on the gas with your right foot!

Use just enough brake to keep the car stopped or at a slow crawl, and use as much gas as it takes to get the tires spinning.

Of course, use Line Lock if your car has it (instead of manually applying the foot brake pedal).

How to do a burnout in an AUTOMATIC transmission car – FRONT Wheel Drive

To do a burnout in a front wheel drive car, first turn off traction control then:

Step 1: Use the e-brake to hold the car in place and press on the gas pedal.

Use the e-brake to stop the car, not the foot brake pedal for a front wheel drive car.

Why? Because the e-brake will apply brake force only to the rear wheels of the car – therefore you don’t unnecessarily need to burn up your front brake pads by applying the regular brake pedal that will activate all 4 brakes pads (this would also make it more difficult for your car to do a burnout in the first place since the engine will need to overcome the force of the brake pads in addition to the tires traction to the surface it is on).

How to do a burnout in an AUTOMATIC transmission car with ALL Wheel Drive

Forget it. Your only chance to do a burnout in an AWD car with an Automatic Transmission is to be on ice, or maybe you can pull it off if the car has like 5,000 horsepower.

Now You Know How To Do a Burnout!

After reading this article you should now know how to burnout in pretty much any car, regardless of whether it’s front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive, manual, or automatic!

You can check out our YouTube channel here for more information on how to do a burnout, or browse our website and YouTube channel for more Tail Happy content!

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