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Imagine for a second that it’s the middle of winter. The snow is falling softly outside, and the local grocery store parking lot is completely empty. Now would be the perfect time to hop in your car and do some donuts, right? Well, as thrilling as that may sound, doing donuts in the snow, on gravel or road can wreak havoc on your car and leave you with some pretty costly repairs.
So what are the mechanical consequences of doing donuts?
1. Burns Out Power Steering
Doing donuts requires you to crank your wheel all the way to the left or right so you can drift around in tight little circles. While this makes for an epic driving experience, cranking your wheel to full lock can wear our the power steering.
Over time, the wear on these pumps will make your wheel increasingly difficult to turn. Then, you may have to fight to stay in lanes or make turns driving around town.
2. Strains Suspension
Turning the steering wheel in such an aggressive manner can also strain your car’s suspension on the outside of the turn. Of course, if you’re doing donuts or drifting on snow, you’ll likely do less damage than if you were on bare pavement.
Still, tight turns can wear out axles, shock absorbers, the stabilizer bar, tie rods and other components of your suspension system. Eventually, you’ll have no other choice but to fix it or scrap the car, as repair costs can be thousands of dollars.
3. Ruins Drivetrain
Your drivetrain typically includes the engine, transmission, driveshaft, axles, differentials and CV joints. These parts are key to ensuring your vehicle drives correctly and are often quite expensive to replace or repair. Unfortunately, doing donuts can also degrade these components.
To prevent damage, consider welding the differentials together, thereby protecting your axle and minimizing power loss from your driveshaft. Only weld yours if you plan to drift professionally, as this modification is illegal for street use in some places.
4. Wears Down Tires
If you’ve smelled burning rubber or left circular skid marks in the parking lot from doing donuts, you already know how badly this activity can damage your tires. Even drifting around in the snow or rain can tear up your wheels and cause them to deteriorate quickly.
You may also experience a blowout or tire explosion while doing donuts. Unless you don’t mind driving on three tires, it may be best to skip the donuts and go home.
5. Ruins Transmission
You know doing donuts ruins the drivetrain and, consequently, the transmission. However, this kind of damage warrants a section all to itself. If you happen to gain traction while spinning around out there, it could shift the gears or cause them to fail.
Then, you’ll have to call a tow truck, admit you’re an idiot and pay a hefty price to fix the transmission. It’s best to either upgrade the clutch or leave drifting to the pros.
6. Overheats the Car
Punching the gas and brakes again and again at relatively high speeds can also cause thermal stress. Even if you’re only spinning around at 30 mph, you’re more or less running your car at a 60-mph caliber.
The constant and repeated starting and stopping will create more heat than your ride can handle. If the vehicle can’t cool itself down, these high temps could result in fires, boiling oil and several other issues that will ruin your car.
The Dangers of Doing Donuts
Doing donuts doesn’t simply damage your car. The activity can also injure you and others, so it only makes sense that drifting and car donuts are illegal in many states. Some cities like Atlanta have even gone so far as to fine and jail spectators to discourage the sport — if you can call it that.
While it may seem like the police are ruining your fun, these laws work to protect you and others. If you really can’t resist the urge to burn some rubber, avoid doing donuts in an empty parking lot and go to a drifting track, instead. You’ll be less likely to damage your car or injure people. Plus, other motor enthusiasts will be able to give you tips and tricks to protect your vehicle, prevent damage and reduce repair costs.