How to Drift on the Snow With an Automatic Transmission

by Christopher DiSabato

"Drifting" refers to oversteering into and throughout an entire turn. The vehicle's horsepower surpasses tire traction, causing the rear wheels to slip at a greater angle than the front wheels. There are multiple techniques for performing a drift on snow with an automatic transmission. These methods dependent on the specifications of the vehicle's transmission, drive train and braking system. The following description lists the steps to perform an emergency brake, or hand brake, drift on snow heading into a curve using either a rear-wheel drive (RWD) or front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicle.

Step 1

Accelerate toward a curve on a snowy road surface.

Step 2

Approach the curve from the outside with adequate speed, steering in the intended direction of travel (toward the inside of the curve).

Step 3

Pull up on the emergency brake and simultaneously countersteer toward the outside of the curve (steer into the turn itself). Make sure to keep your thumb over the emergency brake release button, as the handbrake will only need applied for approximately one to two seconds.

Step 4

Allow the tail-end of the vehicle to slide. Continue countersteering and release the hand brake.

Step 5

Wait for the vehicle to face the exit of the curve, then begin stepping on the gas peddle.

Apply throttle (as needed) while countersteering (as needed) in order to maintain drift throughout the entire turn.


  • The same principles of steering, braking/countersteering and acceleration apply when attempting this maneuver without entering a curve (e.g. in an empty parking lot). It is recommended to use an AT RWD vehicle if performing this maneuver, as it will be easier to drift the tail-end and properly throttle throughout the drift. The "feint drift" and "power over drift" are two other recommended AT RWD snow drifts.


  • Make sure to drift vehicles in the snow (or any conditions) where other drivers and pedestrians are not at risk. Practice this maneuver in a wide-open area as a beginner (e.g. empty parking lot). Although this maneuver is basic in the world of drifting, it is advisable to enroll in professional driving classes or become a member of a local drifting club to learn from experienced drivers. Although the emergency brake drift in snow (or other conditions) is a basic drifting maneuver, do not attempt if driving ability or vehicle safety standards are not solid.

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