How To Do A Burnout In An Automatic

If you feel like it’s going to work, do it. If it doesn’t, get out as quick as you can – Richard Rawlings

Hot rodding folklore and muscle car mythology have sold the wholesale idea that you can’t really do much of anything in an automatic car except slip it into drive and head toward the horizon.

If you asked any hardcore, ride or die car enthusiasts about doing a burnout in an automatic, the chances are that they’d laugh, shake their heads and tell you that it can’t be done.

But they’d be lying. 

They know it can be done and we know it can be done and we’re here to tell you how you can do a burnout in just about any automatic car.

What Is A Burnout?

If you ask your parents or grandparents what a burnout is they’ll almost certainly mutter something about hippies, the Grateful Dead, and the revolutionary spirit of the nineteen sixties going awry.

While we don’t know about that whole counterculture thing and the “burnouts” that were involved in it, we do a little bout about smoking tires and getting off the line in record time. 

Burnouts were popularised by racing drivers, who use them to warm up and soften their tires, to give them extra traction before races. They’re a combination move that lets you use the brake and accelerator to put power through your wheels and hold your car in place at the same time, which makes your wheels spin, burns the rubber on your tires, and makes a lot of smoke.

And even though every single guy in the world appreciates, and will always cheer for, a good burnout, contrary to popular opinion, girls don’t like and aren’t impressed by them.

But that doesn’t matter, because seducing women isn’t the reason you want to do a burnout. You want to do a burnout because they look good and nothing, except for maybe freshly brewed coffee, smells as good as burning rubber.

Before You Put The Pedals To The Metal

The first thing that you need to remember, and honestly we can’t stress this enough, is that burnouts are illegal.

The police have some sort of special, magic burnout radar and they’ll track, hone in on you and catch you doing your burnout before you even have a chance to lift your foot off the accelerator. They’ll just appear out of nowhere and before you can say “Help me Richard Rawlings”, you’ll be issued with a ticket and a court summons. 

We don’t know how they do it, but somehow the police can also sense a burnout coming from miles away, so if you’re determined to do a burnout, find somewhere well away from the public highway to do it. The further you are from possible police intervention, the better. 

Secondly, before you set off on your quest to burn rubber, give your car a good once over. Check everything that you can, but most important of all, check your tires. Make sure that you’ve got enough rubber and grip left on them to peel off on the concrete.

If you don’t have enough, as soon as you start putting pressure on the pedals, you might just hear a loud pop, and the next thing you know, your rims will be chewing the street up and you’ll be left in the middle of nowhere, needing to break out your spare wheel and change a tire just to make it home. 

It’s Burnout Time

Now that you’ve checked that your car is in peak, or as near to peak as it gets, condition and you’re in a police free zone, far away from prying eyes, it’s time to get ready to do a burnout. 

So let’s run through everything you’ll need to do to make your tires squeal, one step at a time

On Your Marks…

Make sure you’re sitting comfortably and then turn your engine on. As soon as you’ve turned your key in the ignition, find the traction control button on your dashboard and turn it off.

If you don’t turn your traction control off, the ECU (engine control unit) will kick in, it’ll turn it’s “let’s stop you having fun” dial all the way up to eleven and stop your burnout happening before you can even start. 

Get Set…

With your engine running, place your left foot on the brake pedal and slowly release your parking brake.

Once you’ve released the parking brake, move your gear shifter into drive while still holding your foot on the brake pedal. 


Then, while still keeping your left foot on the brake pedal, put your right foot on the accelerator and gradually begin to increase the engine revs until you can hear and feel them vibrating all the way through you.

As soon as you feel that tingling, gradually begin to lift your left foot off the brake pedal. When you begin to raise your left foot, the wheels should start moving, the tires will begin to slip on the concrete and you’ll start burning rubber. 

All you have to do then is either hold your foot in place to increase the duration of your burnout, completely lift your foot off the brake pedal and peel out of there like you’re trying to win the Daytona 500, or take your right foot off the accelerator to slow down or stop your burnout entirely. 

Whatever you decide to do, the next time you pull over, grab yourself a celebratory drink, and give yourself a pat on the back. You earned both by successfully completing your first burnout. 

And Lastly, Some Handy Burnout Tips

There are a few ways you can enhance your burnout experience, and because we think everyone should enjoy doing at least five or six burnouts in their life, we’re going to share them with you. 

Gravel is great for burnouts, it provides an extra level of grip and looks incredibly cool while it’s being sprayed everywhere by your wheels. Just make sure there’s no-one around when you do it because you don’t want to hurt anyone or end up with a lawsuit on your hands.

The wetter your tires are, the better your burnouts will be. So take a bottle of water with you and soak your tires down while you’re doing your vehicle check and you’ll end up smoking like you were born to burn rubber. 

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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