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Time Needed: 5-Minutes, Difficulty: Beginner, Cost: Your Soul!

“Your car won’t even do a burnout” is probably the hardest burn you’ll ever have to deal with as an enthusiast. For one, it’s just a low blow, and your only choices are to either do a burnout, admit they’re right, or worse of all, try to do a burnout and fail. 

In the case of your car having enough oomph to roast the tires, but you can’t get it done, you’re pretty much forced to acknowledge you’re not skilled enough to operate that sweet sports car or muscle machine. We’ve all been there, whether we like to admit it or not. We’ve been at the “chump” level of car ownership, but everyone can learn and drag their way out. And before you know it, you’ll be frying tires better than Joe Dirt in his Daytona Charger.

Here’s the good thing. You ­do have ­Carbibles’ absolute powerhouse of knowledge to give you the skinny and help you develop this skill solely by reading about it on the internet! We’re going to give you the lowdown, but it will be up to you to get out there and practice! I know, what terrible homework!  

The Safety Brief

Alright, folks, you know the drill. We’re talking about burnouts and that means unleashing the power of your engine like it’s nobody’s business. You need to use that thing tucked between your ears to make sure you, nor anybody else, ends up on the wrong end of that machine. 

Before we go any further, you should know that burnouts aren’t ­great ­for cars. In doing them, you’re putting a lot of stress on the drivetrain and tires. You practice your hooning at your car’s own risk. 

The most important safety tip is not to do burnouts on public roadways or confined areas. Even if you’re keeping the car steady, you can wind up in the lane of oncoming traffic or off the road entirely. We’ve all seen what those Mustangs can do after a quiet meet… 

Your best bet is to find a piece of private property where you won’t wind up on the wrong side of the road or the law. 

One last thing, don’t go too wild and don’t get scared. The trick to a safe burnout is steady throttle control. Suddenly releasing the gas pedal or mashing the rev-limiter may result in the tires suddenly gaining traction. When they do, the car can hook up and take off right out from underneath you. If you start to lose your nerve, gradually let off of the throttle until the tires stop spinning.  

Why Do People Do Burnouts? 

Burnouts are either used for competition purposes, i.e. drag races, Formula 1, NASCAR, etc, or as means to enjoy yourself—I mean, some people paint, right?

Here’s How to Do a Burnout

Let’s get after it.

1. Bring the car to a stop 

Pulling fishtails and all that nonsense will come with time. You want to start with how to do a burnout from a standstill. We will begin by covering how to do a brake stand and rolling into a burnout.. 

2. Put the car in first 

Folks talk about burning the tires through all the gears, but we aren’t worried about that. Besides, first gear is the lowest offering the greatest torque output. That increased torque helps the tires to break traction easier. You’ll also want to turn off traction control, and in some cars, stability control.

3. Revving and releasing 

How To Do a Burnout in a Manual Transmission Car
Remember, what RPM your car needs to get smokey depends on a few factors. Seeing as we were on loose terrain, it didn’t take much to get those tires spinning.

The burnout starts by bringing the engine up to speed so that enough torque is applied to cause the tires to lose traction when you drop the clutch. Remember, you want to stay away from the rev limiter but keep the RPM nice and high. Once you have the engine up to speed…

4. Dump the clutch

You heard us, dump the clutch and let it fly. 

5. Pushing the brake

How To Do a Burnout in a Manual Transmission Car
Notice the gravel. It might not produce as much smoke, but it’s a great medium for practice.

Even if the point of a burnout is to break traction, the car will begin to roll forward. As it does, traction will increase. As soon as you let off the clutch, you want to modulate the brake pedal to keep the drive tires spinning but not come to a stop. It can take a few shots to get the movement and timing just right, but you will get it down. 

6. Stall and try again

Yup, that’s going to happen the first couple of times. Doing a proper burnout is all about feeling the car out. The engine’s peak torque range, the clutch, the tires, the ground beneath you, and your reaction all come into play. It’ll take a few shots to find the sweet spot, but the only way to find it is by experimenting until you get it. 

7. Getting the rubber smoking 

How To Do a Burnout in a Manual Transmission Car
Keep that brake pedal steady while you work the throttle. Make as much smoke as your heart desires.

Once you get the tires spinning, you have to stay on it. Getting the tires nice and smokey is more than just bashing the gas pedal, though. Again, you want to gradually increase and decrease RPMs to maintain control over the vehicle using both your gas and brake pedals. Finding out how much it takes to get the smoke pouring out of them takes a little bit of practice—oh darn, you get to enjoy your car some more, too.  

8. From a brake stand to a burnout 

How To Do a Burnout in a Manual Transmission Car
After satiating smoke demand, it’s time to back of the brake and roll into your burnout. We kept ours short and sweet.

So far, we’ve actually only talked about a brake stand,not a burnout. For the most part, folks won’t know the difference, and you can stop there. But a real burnout isn’t brake assisted. It’s all about letting the engine do the work. So, once you’ve got the tires nice and smokey, you’re ready to gradually release the brake and roll into a proper burnout. 

9. Learning turning 

Understanding where to point the steering wheel after you’ve released the brake pedal during a burnout is crucial to your safety. When traction breaks, the rear end of the car wants to wander. In other words, it can start to drift to the right or to the left. Turning into the direction of its travel keeps the car straight, while turning away from it will make the rear end come out faster. 

Learning to turn properly combined with steady and smooth movements of the brakes and throttle is key to controlling the car and how you get into doing more intense burnouts. Practice makes perfect, and this factor is exactly why you want a wide-open area to begin practicing burnouts in.  

How Does the Car End Up in Smoke? 

It’s all fun and games until you realize that the smoke billowing out from under your car isn’t coming from the tires. Nope, that’s your clutch and you’re pretty well screwed until it cools off. 

There are typically two things that can cause this to happen. One is that you released the clutch too slowly. The other being that you were revving the engine too high. Either way, the clutch couldn’t engage properly and began to slip. When it does, the friction will cause it to smoke and burn out in a very different sense of the word. 

That said, there are two things you need to practice to prevent this from happening. 

First: Gradually increase your RPMs until you find the sweet spot. Otherwise, you might be bringing the revs up way too high for the car to handle. 

Second: Practice your release of the clutch and transition to the brake pedal. Rather than following the clutch out, you’re better to slide your foot right off the side and then quickly applying the brake. It’s worth getting that movement down before even starting the engine. 

The Car Bibles Questionnaire

Does that cover it? Not exactly. You’ve got questions we still need to answer! 

Q: Is doing burnouts illegal?

A: Not on private property or during legitimate events. It is, however, illegal on public roadways. No matter what your friends say, burnouts can be dangerous. In a split second, you can lose control of your car, and someone can get hurt. If you’re going to do burnouts, it’s best to do them in controlled environments unless you’re willing to give Johnny Law your lunch money and potentially your ride.

Q: Do burnouts damage brakes?

A: Yes, they do. While you’re doing a burnout, the brake pads are sliding along the rotor as the wheels spin at crazy fast speeds. The situation is even worse during a brake stand with the brakes engaged. Some folks install line locks to reduce brake wear and make burnouts easier, but shortening the brake’s lifespan is inevitable.

Q: What is the liquid drag racers use for burnouts?

A: Water. It’s just some good old-fashion H2O used to help clean the tires and aid with breaking traction for the burnout. Sometimes, traction-boosting formulas may also be applied, but that’s only if the sanctioning body of the event allows for such a product to be used.

Video Tutorial on doing a burnout

Who learns how to do a burnout through text? Well, actually, the written word does well for this one. Still, burnout videos are better. That said, this one is from a fellow who loves to get into the science of things, and he does a beautiful job of breaking the process down for you! 

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