How to Peel Out With an Automatic Transmission

by Joe Lebkuecher

Ah, the seductive squeal of tires breaking loose on pavement. To peel out with an automatic transmission for the first time is akin to a first kiss: sloppy, poorly executed, but never forgotten. Sadly, most new cars lack the horsepower to achieve the burnout, and it's all but impossible with an all-wheel drive; but with some finesse and the right vehicle, smoke and burnt rubber will ensue.

Step 1

Preload the transmission. Hold your foot firmly on the brake, place the gearshift in "Drive," and rev the engine to 1,500 to 2,000 rpm for about 15 seconds. This will prime the tranny for the torque release to come.

Step 2

Release pressure on the brake as you increase throttle. You will find a point where the tires begin to break traction while the front brakes still hold the vehicle back. This is the key point in peeling out, and will come easier with practice. You may continue to hold at this stage, keeping your vehicle relatively stationary as long as desired (or until you blow your tires).

Step 3

Continue to increase throttle as you completely release the brake. Be sure to maintain directional control, especially in a vehicle with excessive power or a light rear end (like a pickup truck).

Continue pouring on the power. You may be able to "chirp second" if conditions permit. This is your bonus peel out: you slightly break traction as the automatic transmission shifts up. This phenomenon is believed to attract members of the opposite sex without fail.


  • Have an underpowered front wheel drive? A cheap way to compensate is to engage the parking brake and punch the gas. Rear axle ratios matter. A higher axle ratio, say 4.10:1, means the driveshaft would turn 4.1 times to rotate the rear axle once. You want the engine delivering maximum torque, versus the fuel efficiency that a lower rear axle ratio would bring. If you find yourself completely spastic, consider installing a brake divider to apply more stopping pressure to the front wheels. This is strictly an off-highway modification.


  • These instructions are for informational purposes only, and should never be performed on a public highway or in proximity to people, animals or property of any form. If you detect a burning smell that is not emanating from your tires, you may have cooked your transmission.

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