It is very possible to drift a FWD car. In fact, there are actually quite a few techniques available that you can adopt in order to throw your front-wheel-drive car sideways. However, there is one technique that is superior to all techniques, and which has yet to gather popularity overseas. This technique was developed in Japan, PVC Drifting.
We’ll go through the standard FWD drifting techniques on how to use them, what to look out for, and what to expect. Lastly, we’ll introduce PVC drifting which actually manages to simulate RWD drifting really well in comparison to the other techniques.
Drifting is nothing like circuit racing, and has nothing to do with lap times. Think of it more like art.
Drifting is the purpose of controlling a car that is out of control. Drifting is about how much of an angle, smoke, and speed you can take a corner with – while remaining in control.
When your car loses traction and goes sideways, it would be for most considered “out-of-control”. In drifting, this would be considered “being-in-control” as long as you don’t crash or spin out. The art of drifting is getting as close as possible to the limit of still being-in-control without spinning out.
For the longest of times, drifting has always been considered a rear-wheel-drive event. But even owners of FWD cars want to drift once in a blue moon, so these people got creative, developing and implementing techniques that can be used to throw your FWD car sideways.
Japan has taken the next step and introduced a new technique PVC drifting which took front-wheel-drive drifting to the next level.
In order to drift, the vehicle must be disturbed so that it loses its rear traction. When that happens, and you can control the movement, drifting occurs.
Unlike rear-wheel-drive vehicles which can send all the power to the rear wheels to make them lose traction and allow for drifting, FWD cars can’t. A front-wheel-drive car doing the same would just understeer straight as you’re losing traction of the front wheels, not the rear.
So how do we work around this?
There are three ways to do this:
These techniques utilize the shift in weight transfer, upsetting the car and making it lose traction.
Predominantly used in rallying or ice racing, the Scandinavian flick began being used in the 1960s by Scandinavian rally drivers. Since most FWD are prone to understeer, the Scandinavian flick was used for sharp corners in rallying in order to reposition the front of the car so that it was facing the direction of the upcoming corner, eliminating understeer.
How to do a Scandinavian Flick?
Once you approach a sharp corner, lightly turn the wheel opposite the direction of which the corner you’d like to take. Then quickly make an aggressive steering input in the direction of the corner, let off the gas, and slightly touch on the brakes. This movement will inflict weight transfer of the car, which will make the car line up with the corner you’d like to take.
An aggressive Scandinavian flick will likely require some counter-steering inputs.
The lift-off oversteer technique can really only be used when pushing the car hard, as it requires the car to be under a lot of tension.
How to Lift-off oversteer?
The technique is simple, by lifting off your foot from the gas pedal you will induce weight transfer, forcing more weight towards the front of the car. As the rear becomes lighter if under enough stress, the rear will lose traction and the vehicle will oversteer. Counter-steering will be required.
Lift-off oversteer happens quickly as it only occurs when the car is pushed to the limit. Inexperienced drivers will be prone to spin out.
Be prepared if you are taking a light right, or left-turn corner at high speed, which turns into a sharper corner. If you are letting off the gas pedal mid-corner, you’ll likely experience lift-off oversteer. If you do not counter steer, you will spin out.
Unlike the Scandinavian flick where you transfer the weight mainly by steering inputs, this method transfers the weight from the rear of the car to the front by braking hard.
How to induce oversteer by braking?
When you’re approaching the corner, turn in and brake hard. This will induce oversteer and you’ll need to counter-steer in order to keep the vehicle in the direction of the road.
It is important to notice that before braking hard into a corner the car and steering input have to be facing the corner. Otherwise, chances are that you’ll upset the car in the wrong direction which would be a disaster.
Inducing oversteer by braking is working best when you are approaching a corner at very high speeds, and brake very hard.
This technique is very straightforward. By locking the rear wheels you’ll take away all traction of the rear. At the same time, all weight will transfer to the front of the vehicle. This will unsettle the balance of the car and prone to oversteer.
How to lock the rear wheels?
In order to lock the rear wheels, we’ll use the handbrake.
When coming at a corner at speed, turn in, let off the gas, and yank the handbrake real hard until the car turns around on itself. When that happens, put the handbrake back to neutral and be prepared to counter-steer in order to catch the car. Failing to do so will result in you spinning out.
P.S. if you do this in a manual RWD car, you’ll have to clutch in, or else you will stall your engine.
All of the above techniques only work to a degree. Unless on gravel or dirt, you’ll not be able to hold a drift for that long since you’ll eventually regain traction of the rear, consequently ending the drift.
But the Japanese thought of something amazing. Something so simple, yet so effective, and it is cheap too – forget about purchasing new rear wheels every week or so.
It is called PVC drifting.
The Japanese thought:
“So, in order to drift a FWD car we’ll need as little traction in the rear as possible, and we cannot gain any traction during the drift or else we’ll lose the drift”.
What did they come up with? They fitted rings made of PVC onto the rear tires. They also install water sprayers that spray down the PVC ring during the drift. Not only does this increase the lifetime of the PVC ring, but it also keeps it from splitting and decreases traction further.
The result is that even a 40 bhp Kei car can be used for drifting. You don’t even have to use the handbrake to engage the drift, you can simply give some extra steering input and the car will start to go sideways. From there on, adjust the speed with the gas and brake pedal and counter steer.
Is PVC drifting like drifting a RWD car? No, but it is as close as you’ll get in a FWD car. There will be less noise and no tire smoke. But unless the other FWD drifting techniques, the PVC technique will allow for sustained drifting.
The great thing is, whether you have a family van, or 60hp Toyota Corolla it still is very suitable for PVC drifting. And if you and a friend practice, you’ll eventually be able to tandem with each other. How cool is that for a FWD car?
A PVC ring only costs about 50 USD. Installing a water sprayer is not a requirement, but a recommendation as you’ll not only increase the lifespan of the PVC ring, but the drifting will be better as well. Or simply drift only when it rains.
P.S. please never use PVC rings on the street, keep them on the track, as it is not only illegal to use on the road but also dangerous.
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