How to Handbrake Turn

A handbrake turn is a common skill seen in Hollywood movies, but it's not just for Vin Diesel. Use of the handbrake locks the rear wheels, and when turning, will help rotate the back end of the car more quickly than a normal turn.

Steps

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    Find an empty parking lot or another open space where you can drive your car. Try to avoid driving on private property unless you have permission. It is also a good idea to avoid parking lots with light poles, as they can cause significant damage in an impact.
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    Set up a traffic cone, bucket or another object to make your turn around.
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    For a left hand turn, put your left hand at 1-2 o'clock on the wheel, about where your right hand would normally be, and place your right hand one the underside of the wheel, between 5-7.
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    Approach the cone at a low speed (less than 30mph) and in 1st gear. If you are driving an automatic, put the shift lever into low gear (D1, 1, or L, check your owners manual).
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    As you come to the corner, pull the wheel hard to the left in a fluid motion, aiming to apex about halfway around the corner.
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    Simultaneously put in the clutch (manual only) and pull the handbrake. Make sure that you keep the button on the handbrake pressed in, since you do not want the ratchet mechanism to engage, keeping the rear wheels locked beyond what you want.
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    As the back end of the car slides around the corner, bring the wheel back to the right so that the tires are pointing where you want to go after the turn.
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    Release the handbrake quickly, making sure to hold in the button as you do.
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    Release the clutch and apply throttle to pull out.
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    If the back end over-rotates, it will be necessary to counter-steer to correct your course.
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    Drive off and keep practicing until you get the technique down.

Tips

  • Speed is important. Too little and the car won't rotate, too much and the car will spin, try to find the right balance for the turn.
  • If you become frustrated, take a break and try again later.

Warnings

  • Do not attempt this in an SUV or other top heavy vehicle, as the rollover risk is high.
  • This technique will flatspot and wear out tires very quickly, so it is a good idea to practice on a smooth surface, or in a flat, grassy field where tire wear will be reduced.

Things You'll Need

  • A car
  • A large, empty space that is clear of obstructions
  • A cone, bucket, or other marker

Article Info

Categories: Driving Techniques