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How to Do a Burnout With an Automatic Transmission

by C. Taylor

Burnouts are used to warm up a vehicle's tires before a race. They are also used to simply show off. Burnouts can be a spectacular display of melting rubber, which produces a cloud of white smoke. Burnouts are easily achieved in manual transmissions, because you have the opportunity to rev the engine to high rpms before dropping the clutch. Automatic transmissions do not have the same luxury, so you will need to use a few tricks, especially if the vehicle in under-powered.

Step 1

Pour generous amounts of water on the pavement. If you have a low-horsepower vehicle, you can also douse the area with oil to reduce traction.

Step 2

Position your vehicle so that only your drive wheels are in the water or oil. This might entail backing into the puddle with a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, or driving forward with a front-wheel-drive vehicle.

Step 3

Turn off any traction control in your vehicle. This will usually require pressing a button on your dash, but consult your owner's manual for vehicle-specific instructions.

Step 4

Pull the emergency brake, if you have a front-wheel drive. Do not do this if you have rear-wheel drive. The emergency brake is typically connected only with the rear wheels, so it will benefit front-wheel drive vehicles when performing a burnout, but hinder rear-wheel drive vehicles.

Step 5

Press the brake pedal with your left foot, and shift the car into "drive."

Step 6

Press the gas with your right foot, while still holding the brake with your left foot. Bring the rpm up to approximately 4,000.

Release the brake. The torque from the high rpm, coupled with the reduced traction, should break the tires loose. Once traction is lost, it is easy to maintain the burnout with high rpm. To escape the burnout, just let off the gas.


  • You can also face uphill and roll backwards while following the above procedure. This should only be required if your vehicle is severely under-powered.


  • Make certain there are no obstructions in front of your vehicle when performing a burnout. If traction is found, the vehicle will rapidly accelerate.
  • This is a dangerous maneuver. Make sure you have taken all the necessary safety precautions.

Items you will need

  • Water
  • Oil

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

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