How to Drift - Fourth Lesson: Shift Lock

Shift Lock Drifting 1 photo
Hey, nice setup you've got there - rear-wheel drive, a manual and a decent amount of horsepower. Hmm... it's a fine day outside, so what could we do with these technical bits and pieces?

There are many answers to this question, you could, for example, use the car to take yourself to a locations where you can pick up girls, but we'll give you the one we like most - let's learn how to drift!

We've done this before, putting the spotlights on overpowering and clutch kicking, two techniques that work for rear-wheel drive contraptions, as well as lift off or kansei, which also targets front- and all-wheel drive rides. The first two were done by using acceleration alone, while the last one relies on weight transfer. By the way, you'll find the link for all these techniques at the bottom of the page.

For today, we'll move on to a third category of drifting techniques - those induced by deceleration - look mum, I'm braking! We won't actually be touching the pedal in the middle, at least not today, since we'll be using the engine to decelerate.

This technique is called shift lock and its advantages and disadvantages are rather simple: it's useful thanks to the fact that it's easy to learn and use, but your car won't be too happy when you do this.

Thus, you can see this as those long hours at driving school when you learned your way around the wheel but each of your miles put three times as much stress on the car compared to one done by your instructor. Remember, you can only use shift lock to powerslide if your car has three pedals.

But let's get started - your favorite playground, a corner, coming towards you and you have to apply the brakes. You do this, but you don't reduce the car's speed to a normal entry value, you enter the bend a bit faster.

You steer into the corner and, since you didn't reduce your speed enough, you now have to do something about that. The word here is downshifting - bring the car down a gear, but don't use the heel-and-toe technique.

You shouldn't blip the throttle, so that when you shift down a gear and take your foot off the clutch, the rear wheels lock up. You had already steered into the bend, so the car will start drifting in the desired direction.

This was it, an easy way to initiate the drift. Now that the back end is already out, you find yourself in the usual party mood, so you'll have to feel what the car is doing, adjust the steering and then start pushing the throttle so that the vehicle keeps on drifting.

This brings you into an alternate reality, where you find out that you can actually use the throttle to steer and once you get to balance both this and the steering wheel movements, you'll be able to perfectly control your slide. Try to avoid both ends of the accelerator pedal's travel, as reaching each one of them most of the times means that you're too brutal and you'll probably end up spinning.

You should use the same "no excessive movements" with the steering wheels, but don't worry if you end up using full opposite lock, this is normal. Just make sure that you don't overcorrect the car's tendencies and are always ready to turn the wheel the other side in a blink of the dash.

Like we said, this technique bings quite a lot of stress on the entire driveline, so you should only use it at the beginning, when it helps you get the car sideways easy. You really should avoid downshifting while carrying way too much speed for the gear you're going to enter, as that brings the engine into a dangerous situation, where the ECU is struggling to cut the power in order for the red line not to be exceeded, but the engine is receiving torque form the fast-spinning wheels.

However, you can play with the shift lock drifting technique for as long as you like when the traction is less than perfect. When heavy rain or snow is present, the poor traction dramatically reduces the stress on the mechanical parts of the car.

Remember, There Is Life Beyond Grip!


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