How do you 'burn rubber'?

While watching the Discover channel, they ran a bumper for Monster Garage. In it, Jesse spins up the wheels on his tricked out ride, and the tires smoke like crazy.

How is this done? Do you mash the gas peddle and the brake at the same time? If so, doesnt this just destroy your brakes?

I’m intuitively guessing it is easier to do with a rear wheel drive car, but I can’t come up for a reason why I think that either.

Also, is the same as a ‘burn out’ at a drag strip?

Yes. Rev the engine in neutral, then drop it into gear fast. Any time you have a gearing with too high revs for the wheels at that speed, you will “burn rubber.” The Beach Boys sing in one of their songs about “getting rubber in all 4 gears,” for example. It isn’t good for the tires or the transmission, but it impresses the easily impressed. :smiley:

Clarification: “Yes” this is the same as is seen at the drag strip. But NO you do not simultaneously put it in gear and keep the brakes on.

Depending on the car, you didn’t necessarily have to rev the engine up in neutral to burn rubber. In my old firebird, I could simply punch it (floor it) and smoke the tires. If your engine/transmission could provide the torque and your car body was heavy enough, you could reach the point where the tires spun on the pavement on a fast acceleration.

Worth mentioning is the old drag racer’s brake line valve trick, commercially known as LineLok (or something like that). It holds the pressure on the front brakes without the pedal being depressed so that a good burnout could be acheived, burnouts being necessary to heat up the tires and get maximum grip for your upcoming run.

Don’t forget the Hurst Line-Lock. This solenoid kit enables the operator to lock the front brakes and leave the rear brakes free for an easy burnout.

In the promo for monster garage, the tire spin, and smoke, but the car doesnt go anywhere.

i’m under the impression that when you do a ‘nuetral drop’, you’ll spin the the tires, and get some smoke, but eventually, you will move forward. Is this not correct?

Right. It’s relatively easy to make tires “chirp” by overreving the engine prior to engaging the clutch. It’s a lot more impressive when the engine without help has enough torque to overcome the traction of the driven tires.

You can do a handbrake burnout provided the car is front wheel drive (which already makes it more prone to wheelspin) and the parking brake only works on the back wheels.

We used to pour a little bleach on the tread of the tires, too - makes the rubber softer for more thick, pillowy white smoke.

Not necessarily. When the tires lose their grip on the road you typically need to change what you’re doing before they’ll grab again. Think about how locking up your wheels when braking hard increases your breaking distance, and how the solution is to release pressure on the brakes to get the wheels moving again before applying more pressure. ABS automates this principle.

When burnin out you’re basicaly spinning your wheels on a layer of liquid rubber and debris particles as well, and the tires are constantly bounced off the road surface rather than being allowed to bite into it.

The front-wheel drive must explain my V-6 Altima and it’s tendency to spin - and I don’t just mean chirp, I mean fully involved sustained burnout - when I floor it from a dead stop. I gotta admit, it’s a sweet feeling for a guy who was locked into 4 cylinders after dumping the '78 Trans-Am back oh those many years ago…

How about the knuckleheads that are able to make designs on the pavement? I believe I’ve seen Jesse and/or others on his show manage to pivot a car around on a front tire and lay down an arc or even full circle of rubber.

Anything more to this than a Line-Lock and managing torque steer?

The burnouts on the Monster Garage commercials are standing burnouts and are done with cars that have the line-locks as previously discussed. I’d like to see someone do a 30 second standing burnout without using line-locks. Keyword here: “standing” burnout. You guys ever go to the drag races or even watch them on television? Dragsters have way more power than any street car could ever hope for and can spin their tires faster and yet, they manage enough grip to move them quite a way down the track when they do their burnouts. No car can do long duration standing burnouts without line locks. Period.

Ah, that is what I was missing - keywords ‘standing burnouts’.

So, it’s impossible to due without line locks. cool. Can I add line locks to any car? flip them on and off at a whim? when you use them, I image they put some stress on the braking system - can you break loose from it?

Maybe because in the present day, rear wheel drive cars tend to be the more powerful cars available.

It should be easier to “burn rubber” with a front wheel drive car if you have a smaller engine shouldn’t it? The effect of transmitting power to the wheels means the body of the car tries to twist in the opposite direction and weight is transferred to the rear wheels instead.

As an aside, I remember watching some touring car racing from Continental Europe. For some reason, there were only Alfa Romeos (FWD) and BMWs (RWD) racing. Basically, depending on the circuit, both the Beemers would win, or both the Alfas (with the odd exception.)
The commentator noted that this was because the Beemers were afforded better traction from the starting line and other parts of the course favoured Alfas. I can’t remember what benefited the Alfas, but the Beemers were quicker and smoother off the line.

Only amatuers need a line lock to do a burnout. With a proper big block American muscle car, such as my 66 GTO, I just pump up the brake till i have a nice hard pedal, slowly apply pressure to the accelerator. At about 4000 rpm’s, I slowly let off the brake pedal to release a bit of the pressure on the brake system. At a certain point, I will release enough pressure that the rear wheels will spin freely but there is enough for the front brakes to remain locked up. The braking system of all cars is about 80/20 front to back. You just have to find the sweet spot in your braking system.

Line locks are not used for burnouts in drag racing, they are used at the start of the race. The idea of a burnout is twofold, heat up the tires and lay down a hot patch of rubber to help the launch. Bleach isn’t used anymore for burnouts, when vaporized it does nasty things to your lungs. And the bleach was used to clean tire softening compounds from the tires, not to soften the tires. Tire softeners have been illegal for years, race tracks used bleach to insure compliance. Now days plain water is all that is used. The burnout starts behind the start line and is usually run out a couple hundred feet. When the car is backed up to the starting line, a crew member will guide the driver so the hot tires stay in the hot rubber patch on the track. When the driver stages, he will set the line lock locking the brakes. On modern pro stock cars, these are inboard discs on the rear, they don’t run front brakes. The driver then hits a button that sets a rev limiter on the ignition system, mashes the gas and when the light turns green, they flip a lever that releases the brakes and disables the rev limiter. This lever is on the shift lever. In less that 7 seconds, the will shift from 1st to 5th gear without lifting the gas or using a clutch. Just before the finish line they pull the lever releasing the chute to slow the car down. At about 60 mph, it is safe to use the brakes without spinning the car out. If you ever see a pro stock car crash, they always swap ends because of having no front brakes when they hit the brake pedal.

Top fuel and funny cars don’t need line locks. With over 5,000 horsepower on tap, they just need to mash the gas from a standing stop. They use a centrifical clutch and have no transmission. The only way to stop one is pull the chute lever and shut off the engine, the clutch will disengage and they use a single disc brake mounted on the rear axle.

Yeah, my last two Bonneville’s would burn rubber if I turned off the traction control and punched it. Not just a chirp, but some smelly, nasty smoke. In the case of the first one, though, having the used tires that came with it probably helped. It wasn’t the same after I put new, sporty tires on it – they actually gripped.

Likewise if I turn off the traction control on my current Continental, it’ll do a full burn, even when the tires were new. I don’t know about the tire quality, though – I think they’re Michelins or something.

All of the rental cars I’ve driven lately, while not burning, can spin the tires a good way. But only when there’s sand in the road, as there often is here. My current rental is a big truck, and I can’t make it spin – I think they design them not to.

You don’t need line locks to burn rubber, just torque lots and lots of torque.
Don’t forget that a spinning (sliding) tire does not generate as much grip as a non sliding tire.
Examples: Back in the 80s Volvo used to sell a factory hop up kit for our turbo cars called a turbo plus kit. This added about 20 more HP. Anyway as part of the installation it was necessary to verify the waste gate setting of the turbo. This was done by putting the car in gear, left foot on the brake hard, and floorboard the gas. As the boost started to build the rear tires would break loose and smoke. The car did not move forward due to the front brakes being applied. If you took your foot off the brake The car would lunge to 60 in nothing flat.
Second example A technician I know put built small block Chevy into a 240 Volvo. He took it to a burnout contest. People laughed when he pulled up to the line with a Volvo. Twelve minutes later they were not laughing. He got the trophy. I have seen the video. More tire smoke that you would believe. What he did was crank the wheel hard left, and floor it. The rear tires broke loose, the fronts, not having any power did not. The car did perfect circles around the inside front tire. After 6 minutes he reversed the wheel, and did clockwise circles for the next 6 minutes. He told me that before the contest he put a new set of (cheap) tires on the rear, and at the end they were half worn (6/32 left). If you have ever floored a car at a left turn, and heard the tires squeel, all he did was a very extreme version of that move.
FTR front wheel drive cars are much hard to burn rubber, this is do to extra weight on the front (drive) wheels. More weight = hard to break loose. At the other end of the scale it is very easy to spin the tires in a pickup truck when the bed is empty do to a lack of weight on the drive wheels.

I’ve found it quite easy to do it in my Mum’s two hatch backs, I’m sure this is to do with with weight transfer. Its been brought up before here

I attended a burnout contest last year at a small town street festival. It was held in front of a bar - very rowdy event. Pickup trucks are good for these, due to their extreme forward weight bias. With an unlocked differential, only one tire, usually the right, lights up. The crowd goes nuts when someone keeps it going until the tire explodes.