How To Drift A Car Without Handbrake?

Drifting is a technique where you cause the back end of the car to slide around a curve. It is commonly used in racing, although many people do it for fun. Drifting is easiest when you have a car with rear-wheel drive. To start a drift, find a way to make the rear wheels lose traction.

The most common way to do this is through the power over technique, where you turn the car’s wheel to throw off its weight. There are other tricks you can use with or separately from the power over technique, like a handbrake slide with manual cars or a clutch kick with automatics. When done properly and safely and knowing how to drift a car without handbrake can be a thrilling trick to pull off with your car.

Do We Really Require Handbrake For Drifting?

Using the handbrake to initiate a drift is probably the easiest method. It is the recommended starting point for beginners. The idea is to brake as you approach a corner, then lift off the brakes and pull the handbrake in one smooth motion as you turn in. With the weight on the outside, and the locked rears offering little grip, the rear will kick out. You can then use the throttle to maintain the slide.

When you start, grabbing the handbrake and trying to catch the slide without the throttle is a great way to become accustomed to the unnatural feel of a car getting sideways. Once you’ve mastered catching the slide, you can start bringing the throttle into play.

How To Drift A Car Without Handbrake?

The driver has full control in a manual transmission vehicle over which gear they are in, and it is thus favorable for many people who like to have this extra control over their speed and RPM. Manuals are traditionally harder to learn as they require more movements and more attention.

Follow the below process to know how to drift a car without handbrake.

1. The Scandinavian Flick

This technique is a classic staple of rallying, a form of motorsport, that uses weight transfer to initiate oversteer. It requires a bit more speed to pull off than the average handbrake turn. Practice accordingly in wide-open spaces and away from the traffic otherwise you may hit something.

The Scandinavian flick is the most simple of these techniques. It is also called a pendulum turn.

When approaching a corner, steer the car quickly in the direction opposite you to turn before the turn-in point. Then initiate the turn in the proper direction while lifting off the throttle. The weight transfer induced by the initial and destructive turn carries through the second change of direction. And forcefully accelerate through the effect of gravity drive the car through the corner sideways.

Still, you have trouble pulling off how to drift a car without a handbrake? Stabbing the brakes at the turn-in will further unweight the rear of the car, helping you slide around the corner like a seasoned rally pro.

2. Left Foot Braking

In a front-wheel-drive car, one can mimic the effect of applying the handbrake. By applying the brakes with the left foot while simultaneously applying throttle into and partially through a turn. When enough throttle is applied to overcome the brakes, the driven wheels will turn faster than the un-driven rear wheels. Thus, causing the rear of the car to step out.

This is an unpleasant important piece of the motor racing toolkit utilized across all drivetrain formats in all manner of four-wheeled motorsport.

3. Trail Braking

Out of all these techniques to know how to drift a car without handbrake, trail braking requires the most speed to pull off. It’s also arguably the most difficult to master. Again, we’re working with weight transfer to initiate oversteer.

It is generally held that one gets through a corner fastest by braking heavily before turning, releasing the brakes before turning in. Then gradually pouring on the throttle after the apex. But this isn’t the only way to get the job done.

A different approach may be used to get through a corner. Sometimes just as fast or even faster, depending upon a dizzying number of variables.

Trail braking is the practice of braking late or less vigorously before a turn and keeping pressure on the brakes through a turn-in. Then slowly release the brakes while approaching the apex. Holding some amount of brake pressure through the turn-in increases weight transfer to the front of the car, unweighting the rear and inducing oversteer.

Don’t forget to countersteer. Trail braking can induce particularly alarming spins if one’s not up on their game.

Why Is It Harder To Drift In Automatic Transmission?

Controlling an automatic car during drifting is somewhat difficult. The driver has to be highly skilled to maintain a competitive speed. You can drift but never think of winning a race with it.

1. Less Control

Automatics don’t tend to give the driver as much control as a manual, and this will become apparent when we consider drifting in each case.

Automatic cars have transmissions that sometimes slip gears, and this can be difficult to differentiate from the slip of the wheels during a drift, meaning that it can become difficult to cause the wheels to slip correctly over sustained periods. There are systems called dual-clutch gearboxes, and they don’t have this problem and are thus a fair bit easier to drift than standard automatic gearboxes with a single clutch mechanism.

2. Gear Selection

Next, you will want to be in low gears when going into a drift, which is very easy to do in a manual as it is just a case of selecting the right gear. In an automatic, you will still be able to get into a low gear even without the use of paddles by just slowing the car down enough, but paddles or a semi-automatic gear shifter make this much easier.

3. No Clutch

Automatics don’t have clutch pedals and although this means you don’t have to worry about pressing it to change gears you do lose out on the control it offers to perform one of the most popular ways to initiate a drift – known as clutch kicking.

Not being able to do this in an automatic means you will have to flick the back end out with the steering wheel only, or perhaps a bit of braking, which is just much more difficult.

4. Lack Of A Handbrake

Many automatics don’t have hand brakes either, which is another way that drifts can be initiated. Thus, it is not just holding the drift that is more difficult in an automatic, it is actually very difficult to even get into a drift with one when compared to a manual. With that said, it definitely is still possible, and it just requires a fair amount of skill and the right conditions.


Drifting is one of the most entertaining driving maneuvers that you can perform, and when done right it can feel very rewarding. However, to do it right you will need to be very skilled, and it can help to do it in a car with a manual transmission. Although it is possible in an automatic, the absence of a clutch and handbrake, combined with the decreased control, makes it much more difficult.

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