How to Burnout in Automatic Cars: Mastering the Art of Rubber Smoke

Performing a burnout in an automatic car may seem challenging, but with proper technique, it can be achieved without causing damage to the vehicle. Burnouts are a popular way to showcase a car’s power and capability, often seen at car shows, racetracks, or in movies. Typically associated with manual transmissions, automatic cars can also accomplish this feat of spinning the wheels while the car remains stationary, creating smoke and excitement. However, it’s crucial to approach this maneuver with knowledge and caution to avoid costly repairs or unsafe situations.

A car's tires spinning rapidly, emitting smoke and leaving skid marks on the pavement

Before attempting a burnout, it’s necessary to understand the basic requirements and safety precautions. Automatic cars need specific conditions to perform a burnout, such as disabling traction control systems that are designed to prevent wheel spin. It’s also important to consider the type of drive system your car has, whether it’s rear-wheel-drive (RWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD), as the technique may vary. Ensuring that the location is safe and legal for such activities is paramount; a closed course or private property with no risk to others is ideal.

We must emphasize the importance of vehicle safety and the potential wear-and-tear performing burnouts can impose on an automatic car. Continuous high-revving of the engine and braking can stress the transmission, brakes, and tires. As such, it’s wise to accept the possibility of mechanical failure as part of the process. Enthusiasts should only undertake burnouts after careful consideration of these factors and with preparations to handle any possible outcomes.

The Foundations of Vehicle Dynamics

In this section, we’ll explore the core principles that affect how a vehicle performs during a burnout, particularly the importance of traction, engine output, and drivetrain layout.

Understanding Traction and Tire Grip

Traction is the frictional force between the tires and the driving surface; it enables your vehicle to accelerate, turn, and stop. Tire grip is crucial in this equation, as the rubber compound, tread design, and tire condition all influence how well your tires can adhere to the road. Here are essential factors to consider:

Tire Composition: Soft rubber compounds can offer more grip but may wear faster.
Tire Tread: Tread pattern affects water displacement and road contact.
Tire Pressure: Optimal pressure maximizes the contact patch with the road surface.

The Role of the Engine and Torque in Vehicle Control

The engine is the heart of vehicle dynamics, generating the power necessary for a burnout. Torque plays a critical role; it’s the rotational force that the engine produces to turn the wheels. More torque means more potential for rapid acceleration and tire spin:

Engine Output Effect on Burnout
Torque Direct influence on the ability to spin the wheels
Horsepower Affects the sustainability of a burnout

Comparing Drivetrain Components

Drivetrain layout fundamentally affects vehicle behavior during a burnout. Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) vehicles channel power to the front wheels, which can make burnouts challenging due to weight transfer to the rear when accelerating. Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) typically facilitates burnouts as the weight transfers to the powered wheels. All-Wheel Drive (AWD) systems theoretically can perform a burnout, but the distribution of power across all four wheels makes it less practical and more straining on the vehicle.

Front-Wheel Drive (FWD): Front wheels receive the engine’s power. Less ideal for burnouts.
Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD): Rear wheels are powered. Preferred for burnouts.
All-Wheel Drive (AWD): All four wheels are powered. Possible but not recommended for burnouts.
Traction Control: Often needs to be disabled for a successful burnout, as it restricts wheel spin.

In all cases, a differential, which is part of the drivetrain, allows the wheels to rotate at different speeds. This is particularly important when attempting a burnout, as unrestricted wheel spin is necessary.

Performing a Burnout

When executing a burnout in an automatic vehicle, it’s imperative to understand the distinction between automatic and manual transmissions, as well as to prioritize safety and precise technique.

Manual vs Automatic Transmission Burnouts

In a manual transmission, engaging a burnout typically involves managing the clutch to maintain a specific rpm, creating the necessary friction for the tires to lose traction. In contrast, automatic vehicles lack a clutch, simplifying the process as we focus solely on the brake and gas pedals.

Safety Measures and Preparations

Safety Measures:

  • Ensure a secluded area free of traffic and pedestrians.
  • Verify that the area is legal for performing burnouts.
  • Check the vehicle’s condition, especially brakes and tires.


  • Warm up your car’s engine before starting.
  • Disable traction control for unrestricted tire spin.

Step-by-Step Guide to Performing a Burnout

Performing a burnout in an automatic vehicle involves a sequence that maximizes control while delivering the right amount of power.

  1. Start the car and ensure the engine is running smoothly.
  2. Hold the brake pedal down firmly with your left foot.
  3. Apply the gas pedal with your right foot to increase engine rpm.
  4. Release the brake gradually while maintaining revs to initiate wheel spin.
This technique is known as power braking and allows us to remain stationary while revving the engine.

Car doing a burnout

We need to practice control over the brake and gas pedals, ensuring a balance that keeps the car still while the wheels spin to create smoke and the characteristic peel out associated with a burnout. Remember, excessive revving without control can lead to vehicle damage, so it’s essential to modulate the throttle wisely.

⚠️ A Warning

Never hold a burnout too long as this can severely damage your tires and potentially overheat parts of your vehicle.

Legal and Safety Considerations

When performing burnouts, it’s crucial for us to comprehend the legal repercussions and ensure the utmost safety. Abiding by the law and taking proactive measures safeguards ourselves and others.

Understanding the Legal Implications of Burnouts

Burnouts are classified as illegal in many regions. Ignoring this law can lead to consequences such as fines or even arrest. The legality of burnouts depends on local ordinances and traffic laws. Engaging in such behavior on public roads is prohibited, and doing burnouts can be interpreted as reckless driving.

Always confirm with local laws before attempting a burnout.

Identifying a Safe Location and Protecting By-Standers

To perform a burnout responsibly, locating a safe and legal area is non-negotiable. Private property or a sanctioned performance driving course can be appropriate venues, provided you have express permission to use the land for such activities.

We must avoid public spaces and ensure that no passers-by or properties are at risk. Safety measures must be prioritized to protect everyone present, including the use of proper street tires designed for performance conditions and the consideration of surface type—like avoiding gravel, which could potentially damage the drivetrain components of cars like a Subaru Impreza.

⚠️ A Warning

Performing a burnout can cause significant wear and damage to your car. We should consider the potential costs of such actions.

Enhancing Vehicle Performance

In this section, we’ll detail how to upgrade your vehicle for optimal burnout performance with specific modifications and provide guidance on selecting the right car for power driving situations.

Modifications for Better Burnouts

To successfully perform a burnout in an automatic car such as a Ford Mustang, certain vehicle modifications can greatly improve the experience and spectacle. Beginning with the brake system, it’s crucial to have high-quality brake pads that can withstand the extreme stress and heat generated during a burnout. Aim for performance-oriented pads that offer better heat dissipation to maintain braking efficiency.

Key Modifications:
  • Tires: Opt for tires that can handle the wear and can produce ample smoke.
  • Transmission: Strengthen your transmission, focusing on the first gear to endure the pressure.
  • Exhaust: An enhanced exhaust system can not only increase performance but also amplify the sound, adding to the effect for any onlooker.

🚨 Ensure your vehicle’s cooling system is upgraded to prevent overheating from sustained burnouts. 🌡️

Additionally, consider installing a line lock system that allows you to lock the front brakes independently of the rear. This tool is essential for executing a stationary burnout in a rear-wheel drive vehicle while preventing unnecessary strain on the braking system.

Choosing the Right Vehicle for Performance Driving

While many automatic cars can perform burnouts, vehicles with a rear-wheel drive system traditionally facilitate a better experience. Rear-wheel drive provides a balance that ensures the rear tires spin while the vehicle remains static, essential for a successful burnout.

When evaluating a vehicle’s suitability, take note of the following aspects:

Feature Value for Burnout Example Model
Transmission Responsive, with tunable software Ford Mustang Automatic
Drive Type Rear-wheel drive for control Various performance models
Horsepower Sufficient to overcome tire grip Sports cars & modified vehicles

For enthusiasts looking to recreate a scene reminiscent of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, a vehicle with a high power-to-weight ratio is ideal. Always prioritize safety, choosing an appropriate location far from traffic and onlookers, where you can perform a burnout without posing risks to others or the environment.

⚠️ A Warning: Always abide by local laws and regulations regarding burnouts, and respect community guidelines to avoid penalties or property damage.
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