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Does Drifting Damage Your Car? The Real Cost of Drifting on Your Car's Health

Two cars drifting around a corner.

As much as drifting a car can look like a lot of fun on a racetrack or in movies or tv shows, it can have consequences if you try to do it in a car that isn't built for it.

Drifting in a car can quickly destroy your tires from excess heat and friction wear. It can also damage your transmission if it isn't especially tuned for drifting. The engine can also take a beating from excess heat and lack of oil and coolant flow.

Below are some examples of the possible downsides of drifting in your car.

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    Two cars drifting around a corner.
    Two cars drifting around a corner.

    What Happens To Your Car When You Drift?

    Drifting involves running your car at high throttle to get your tires to lose traction and spin while taking corners.

    This causes the car to “float” as it's driven, especially during turns and rounding corners.

    Since drifting requires hard throttling, constantly spinning tires, and precise steering techniques, it can strain your vehicle considerably.

    Does Drifting Ruin Your Transmission?

    One major downside of drifting a car is the effect that it can have on the transmission.

    Drifting requires the tires to spin much faster than they normally would while driving, which causes the transmission to have to work overtime to accomplish this.

    The extra heat and friction generated by all of the force being put on the gears and other components of the transmission can quickly lead to transmission damage.

    Even a transmission specially geared for drifting is susceptible to this same wear and tear, with the only plus being that it will probably not wear out as quickly as a stock transmission.

    Cars are built specifically for drifting.
    Cars are built specifically for drifting.

    How Do You Drift A Car Without Damaging It?

    The honest answer to this question is that there is no easy way to drift in a car without causing at least some long-term damage.

    A car can be equipped with special tires for drifting, but those tires can be expensive and will still take a beating from the heat and friction of constant spinning.

    You can also make extensive modifications to the engine, drivetrain, and suspension parts, but the techniques required for drift driving will still take a heavy toll on those parts.

    Drifting in your car is a delicate balance between having fun with it and causing potentially expensive damage to it.

    Can You Drift In A Normal Car?

    Most normal cars on the road today aren't built for drifting.

    The factory setup of the average modern vehicle is geared toward fuel efficiency and cheap manufacturing, which means that they often lack the performance parts necessary for drift driving.

    For example, one of the more common problems with drifting with a regular car is a lack of oil flow once too much strain is put on the engine.

    Most oil pumps aren't built to handle the heat and high flow rate needed for drifting, so they will often lose their ability to pump oil correctly at a certain point during drift driving.

    Will My Car Flip If I Drift?

    Drifting not only risks damage to the mechanical components of your car, but it also has the risk of causing you to wreck your car if you don't know what you're doing.

    It requires technique to steer and keep a car under control, while drifting involves skill and training.

    Since you are intentionally causing your tires to spin without much traction on the road surface, one wrong move can send your car out of control and quickly lead to it flipping.

    Can You Drift In Normal Tires?

    Most factory tires are usually built for traction, so they will naturally grip the road too well to be much good for drifting.

    These tires also contain deep treads that are good for rain channeling but not ideal for drifting. Drifting tires usually have very shallow treads, so they can spin more easily.


    Drifting is usually better done in a car you can afford to beat up a little bit.

    If you have a car that you don't mind tearing up over time, putting some money into replacement parts, and potentially wrecking if things go wrong, then go for it!

    Otherwise, leave the drifting to stunt drivers in the movies or professional racers on a slick track.