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How to Do a Donut in the Snow

by Lucas Kittmer

A "donut" is the act of spinning the rear end of a vehicle around the front in a continuous circular motion. If done right, donut-shaped tire tracks are left on the road due to the rear tires being dragged repeatedly in a circle. While often done on bare asphalt, this technique is easier to do in snow because of the reduced traction. A number of important steps are involved in executing a donut properly, safely and without causing damage to your vehicle.

Obtain the right vehicle. Vehicles with rear-wheel drive are the best, as they are easier to drift. Vehicles with front-wheel drive tend to try and pull the car straight.

Set your vehicle to a limited-slip differential, allowing the wheels to spin at different speeds. Most new vehicles do not have this applied stock, as it limits control in icy or otherwise dangerous road conditions. In your donut, the limited-slip differential allows the tires to slip over the snow easily; this augments your ability to drift the rear end.

Turn the steering wheel in your planned direction of spin while the car is stopped; turn the wheel until it is almost locked. Do not let the wheel fully lock.

Rev your engine in first gear or neutral; use the clutch if the vehicle has a manual transmission. Keep your foot on the gas until the engine achieves 3,500 rpm.

Remove your left foot from the clutch. Shift to second gear, and immediately floor the accelerator until you're just under the red line of your rpm. Hold the steering wheel in place to begin your donut. If you're using a manual -- and don't make the switch from clutch to accelerator quickly enough -- you might burn out the clutch.

Ease your foot onto the brake pedal while keeping your other foot on the gas. This allows you to slow and regain control of the vehicle. If you slam on the brake while taking your foot off the gas, a strong force is exerted toward the outside of your spin. This might potentially flip the vehicle. The higher the surface traction, the more likely you are to flip.

Tip

  • Don't attempt a donut if your care is equipped with snow tires. These tires are designed for increased traction, which is exactly what you don't want when attempting a donut.

Warnings

  • If you turn your wheel all the way when executing your turn, you risk locking the steering and burning out the power steering pump. If you lose power steering, you are more likely to lose control of the vehicle.
  • All-wheel drive -- and new or sticky tires -- can lead to a blown drivetrain. Ensure you're vehicle is set to either front-wheel or rear-wheel drive, and that you have as little traction on the ground as possible. Wet snow and ice offset good tire traction.

Items you will need

About the Author

Lucas Kittmer has been writing professionally since 2008. His work has been published in "The Charlatan" and "Kingston Whig-Standard." Kittmer is pursuing a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

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