Does Drifting Damage Your Car?

By August 13, 2020January 23rd, 2021Common Questions, Riding Techniques

Drifting is cool and all but it got me wondering what damages can it do to a car? I mean the damage to the tires is clear but what else? That’s what I was researching on the weekend and I would like to share it with you 🙂 It’s good to know the potential damages before you try to learn it.

In short – drifting causes wear and tear damages to your car. Your rear tires will not last very long from the friction. You have to replace them with a new set every 2-3 drifting sessions depending on how long each session is. The other most common damage from drifting is exterior damages. No matter how experienced you are in drifting, you are bound to lose control and crash into something. The common exterior damages include bumpers and skirting.

How Does Drifting Work?

In a very simple term – drifting is when the rear of your car slips because the rear tires lose grip. The rear end of your car will kick out but you as the driver is still in control – allowing the rear end of your car to slip but compensate it by having your front tires applying force in the opposite direction. The act of losing traction of your rear tires is also known as over-steering. In even shorter terms – drifting is a controlled over-steering.

Image Of Drifting Breakdown
Rear wheels lost grip causing the rear of car to kick out.
Front wheels exerting force on the opposite direction. Allowing driver to control the over-steering.

Over-steering happens when you steer too much and accelerate too fast at the same time. Too much force is applied to the rear tires – much more than the grip can handle. This causes the rear end of your car to kick out and spin the car. To turn over-steer into a drift, you must compensate for the loss of grip on the rear tires by immediately turning your steer to the opposite direction. This causes your front tires to turn and add force in the opposite direction – causing your car to not lose control.

Check out how this guy takes the corner at 0:38. He swings his steering wheel very quickly to the left and accelerates. This causes massive over-steering. As the rear tires begin to lose traction and kick out, he allows the steering wheel to move to the right (opposite direction) – causing the front tires to turn the opposite direction – causing a drift. Observe at 0.5 speed if you have to.

Why Do People Drift?

Looks Cool As Hell

Isn’t this the whole reason why you want to learn how to drift? 😉 Or why you watch people drift in the first place. Drifting looks very cool and effortless when performed right – especially with the right angle. 

Image of car drifting

It’s Fun

Drifting is challenging but can be very satisfying when done right. When you are on the track, every corner becomes a mission to nail the drift. Also, drifting is dangerous – losing control means spinning cars that could be fatal. The adventurous and adrenaline junkies surely love this feeling.

Keep Your RPM Up

Aside from looks and fun, track racers perform drifting regularly for its speed. Without drifting, you need to lower the speed and RPM of your car significantly when taking a corner. Then you will need to rev the RPM up and gain back the speed and acceleration. With drifting, you can take a corner without losing much RPM. Which means after the corner, you can regain your original speed more quickly because the RPM and acceleration is still in place. 

Correctly Positioned After Taking Corners

Another reason for drifting is also the positioning of your car. After you perform a drift on a sharp corner, your car is already positioned correctly to go straight ahead. Comparing this with taking the corner regularly, drifting can save you that split seconds which could be winning and losing when racing.

Car Correctly Positioned After Drift
When the car has drifted to this point, it’s already on the correct direction – ready to accelerate.

Damages Caused By Drifting

With all the good, comes the bad. Here are the most common damages that are caused by drifting.

Tire Damages

This is the most obvious one. When you drift, your tires will generate a lot of friction and heat. These can wear out the tires very quickly. Do you see the smoke coming out from tires when someone drifts? Yeah. Usually, drifters would bring along a set of tires with rims on. This allows them to swap the tires quickly when the ones equipped wear out during their session. 

Your set of tires can last for about 2-3 sessions depending on how long your session is. The trick is to replace the new tires with your front tires. Then equip what was the front tires into the rear tires. Drifting is extremely damaging to the rear tires – whatever tires you equip here will not last very long.

Wear On Engine Parts 

This is also a given. Drifting produces a lot of stress and heat on various engine parts. The most common parts being your suspension and clutch. When you take a corner with high speed, extra pressure is placed on the suspension. Not to mention if your car is not already equipped with coilovers, then your stock suspension spring will not last very long. As for the clutch – when you drift, you will have to perform clutch kicks at high RPM quite often. Which will inevitably cause your clutch and clutch plate to suffer.

Blown Turbo

This is quite rare but can still happen. A turbo powers itself from hot exhaust gases from the combustion chamber. Turbo is designed to withstand  high temperature exhaust gases but anything that’s abnormally high will cause damages to the turbo. I have heard stories where drifters have their turbo blown up during their drift sessions. Not very often but can happen.

Body Damages

Last but not least – outer damages! All the damages I have talked about above are internal damages. But kid you not – outer damages are much more common than the internal ones. As a drifter – no matter how good you are, you are bound to lose control and crash into something. The most common body damages being bumpers and skirting.

Preparing Your Car For Drifting

Still want to learn how to drift? 😉 If you are, let’s make sure your car is ready for a drift session. 

Remove Loose Items

Loose items will go flying around while you are drifting. While this could be dangerous, you most likely don’t want to get distracted either – so remove them before you drift! Common loose items include floor mats, keys, water bottles, car fresheners, tissue boxes, etc.

Equip Spare Tires And Tools 

Just like how we discussed above, tires wear out really quickly on a drift car. I would recommend you to bring a set of spare tires to any drifting session. The tires should come equipped with rims, so they can be exchanged easily. And by a set of tires – I mean 2 tires folks. Don’t forget to also bring the tools required to replace the tires. What good are the tires if you don’t have the tools to replace them 😉

Racing Helmet

Remember, Safety first! Wearing a helmet while on drift sessions is very typical. You are much more likely to crash your car when drifting – so protect that head. Don’t go cheap on the helmet because its job is to keep you alive. I recommend getting a racing helmet that’s Snell SA Rated.

Image of Snell SA Rated Racing Helmet
Image of coilovers

Heat Shields

When drifting, your car engine is pushed to its limit – generating a lot of heat in the engine bay. You don’t want this heat to boil off your coolant or break fluid or any other liquid in the engine bay. Install heat shields to prevent this! 

Equip Coilovers

Coilovers could be night and day when it comes to taking a corner. They lower the car and improve car handling significantly – which is crucial when drifting. Do note that coilovers could make your car ride very uncomfortable. But it’s all worth it for the handling. I cover mode details on coilover here.

Image of coilover
Image of coilovers
Ifandi L.

Ifandi L.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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