Let's Roast Some Tires and Teach You How To Do a Burnout!

Warning: Do not attempt without a professional and the proper precautions.

A red Dodge Challenger SRT starts a burnout.
Dodge

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

If I am rubber, and you are glue, I can do burnouts, and you can’t. *sticks tongue out*

Childish sayings aside, burnouts are one of those things you can love and hate at the same time. They might be fun to do, but you also understand why they have a negative reputation—and why Mustangs are the cliche car associated with the term... 

In the right situation, burnouts do have a genuinely real purpose, but that situation is not a busy street or a packed Walmart parking lot. Everybody deserves to try it at least once, and we’d like to help you figure out the proper time and place to do it. 

Unsure how it works? The Drive’s smokey editors will tell you how and when to let the clutch fly. Let’s get to it!

DISCLAIMERS

Before we get into any of this, we need to drop some disclaimers on you. 

Only attempt burnouts under the supervision of professionals in controlled areas where it is legal. The Drive is not responsible for any damage, accidents, or any legal consequences you may encounter. Likewise:

Burnouts are illegal in virtually all places.

Burnouts can be dangerous.

Burnouts can ruin car parts.

Burnout can result in redlining and hurt your car’s engine.

Burnouts are loud and annoying to most people.

Burnouts are bad for the environment and your health when smoke is injested. 

Burnouts mark up the pavement.

A red Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat starts a burnout.
FCA

S, R, and T are the only letters left after the burnouts burnout.

What Is a Burnout?

Burnout is the act of spinning your car’s wheels while staying in place, at least initially. The friction of the rubber spinning on pavement produces showy billows of smoke. 

Warnings and Precautions

Burnouts should not be taken lightly. Heed these precautions if you’re going to attempt burnouts.

Practice First

Attempting a burnout for the first time at an auto show or in some other busy parking lot is the worst possible thing you can do, and you might do some damage to your car and/or others. With a professional on hand, go to a completely empty lot with scarce light poles, and practice doing them with no people or cars around you.

Beware Clutch Burn

If you smell something other than burnt rubber, it might be your clutch. Back off and let it cool down before attempting again. You might not be lifting off the clutch fast enough, and you never want to ride the clutch.

Avoid Areas With Obstacles

Everybody has seen the videos of a burnout turning into an accident that caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage. Never attempt burnouts near poles, walls, curbs, islands, parking barriers, or anything else your car could run into.

People Shouldn’t Stand Around Burnouts

Anytime somebody does a burnout, there are risks of flying road debris, flying broken parts, and rogue Ford Mustangs. Keep your distance if you’re watching one, and make sure nobody is around if you’re doing one.

Why Would I Do Burnouts If They’re Hard On My Car?

Because life is about the little things that make you happy. It’s crucial to find the small Ws that put a smile on your face, even if it comes with a minor cost. That’s why we’re all here to talk about cars, right?

What About Drag Racing?

In drag racing, there is a real purpose for burnouts. Cold tires have less grip and make for slower launches. So, drag racers usually spin the tires a bit to warm them up. Warmed up, they can grip the road better. This also helps clear the tire of any debris before entering the race.

A MOPAR drag racer does a burnout.
FCA

A burnout before drag racing is expected.

How To Do a Burnout In a Manual Car

If you can use a clutch, you can do a burnout.

Right-Foot Braking

  1. Turn the car on.
  2. Turn the parking brake off.
  3. Turn all traction control and stability control systems off.
  4. Press the clutch pedal with your left foot.
  5. Press the gas pedal with your right foot and rev the engine up to around 3,000-5,000 rpms. This isn’t an exact number, and you’ll have to know and understand your car to know how high you should rev it. Just be careful not to get too close to redline.
  6. Quickly let off the clutch and use the left side of your right foot to press the brake, while feathering the gas. You’ll need to be pressing both the brake and the gas to burn rubber while staying in place.
  7. Let the smoke fly!
  8. If you just want to do a burnout and zip off, there’s no need to keep braking.

Left-Foot Braking

  1. Turn the car on.
  2. Turn all traction control and stability control systems off.
  3. Press the clutch pedal with your left foot.
  4. Press the gas pedal with your right foot and rev the engine up to around 3,000-5,000 rpms. To repeat, this isn’t an exact range, and you’ll have to know and understand your car to know how high you should rev it. You need enough power not to stall, but not too much that you’ll burn your clutch. Just be careful not to get too close to redline.
  5. Quickly let off the clutch with your left foot and use the same left foot to stomp on the brake while continuing to hit the gas. With this method, you can brake with your left foot and feather the gas with your right foot. Again, this is a feel thing that we can’t exactly explain with words, you just have to try it.
  6. Smoke it up!

How To Do a Burnout In an Automatic Car

Automatics can do it too!

Left-Foot Braking

  1. Turn the car on.
  2. Turn all traction control and stability control systems off.
  3. With your left foot, stomp on the brake.
  4. Smash the gas pedal.
  5. Gently feather the brake pedal until the wheels start to spin and roast those tires.
  6. Roast them!
A Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat leaves billows of smoke in a parking lot after a burnout.
FCA

Never do burnouts in a crowded area.

FAQs About How To Do a Burnout

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q. So Are Burnouts Bad For Your Car?

A. Yes. In addition to shredding precious tire tread and brake pads, you are also putting a lot of stress on the engine, drivetrain components, and everything else in your car that wasn’t designed to do extended burnouts in place.

Q. Are Burnouts Illegal?

A. Burnouts are illegal in virtually all public places.

Q. But What Is the Best Car for Burnouts?

A. Any car with a lot of power, a manual transmission, and rear wheel drive.

Q. And Do Burnouts Wear Out Brakes?

A. They can! At the end of the day, burnout is achieved by using the throttle and the brakes at the same time, so you’re trying to stop something that’s spinning very fast. That’s going to wear your brakes.

Q. Then How Long Do Tires Normally Last?

A. This will depend on the car, the tire, the driver, the location, and numerous other factors. Read more in our guide, How Long Do Tires Last and When Should I Replace Them?

Q. How Do You Do a Burnout in GTA 5?

A. Hold the gas and the brake, which should be the left and right triggers. On computers, use W and S.

Let’s Talk, Comment Below To Talk With The Drive’s Editors!

We’re here to be expert guides in everything How-To related. Use us, compliment us, yell at us. Comment below and let’s talk! You can also shout at us on Twitter or Instagram, here are our profiles.

Jonathon Klein: Twitter (@jonathon.klein), Instagram (@jonathon_klein)

Tony Markovich: Twitter (@T_Marko), Instagram (@t_marko)

Chris Teague: Twitter (@TeagueDrives), Instagram (@TeagueDrives)

Video