Drift Tuning 101
Drifting With A Stock Setup
If you're new to drifting you might need this short drift tuning 101. Because not even the best sports car is made to drift, chances are that you find it hard to keep the car sideways. Manufacturers and tuning companies tune their sport cars to keep all four tires sticking to the road, rather much like a race car.
Not that most RWD sports cars aren't capable of drifting, but you get the idea. A car simply isn't designed to withstand the forces generated when it's driving sideways. For a bone-stock factory car and especially the cheaper ones the suspension usually is not up for the job and way too soft. The engine often has insufficient power and the differential is always too open.
After reaching the limits in your stock car, which shouldn't take you long, it's time to address each of those areas and buy some new drift parts. Firm suspension, a locked differential and enough engine power is the perfect recipe for a good drift setup.
If you're still early in the process of learning how to drift a big advantage of drifting with a stock setup over a tuned setup is that you can really get a good feeling for the physics involved in drifting and can develop a reaction to the weight transitions. It is beneficial to develop your drifting instinct in a (near) stock car, because it will be much easier to drive on the car's limits. Besides, driving is expensive as it is already, you are better off investing your money in driving time than in new parts. The basic message of this drift tuning 101 is basically to spend your money wisely!
If you install drift parts beyond your skill level you will not be able to get the maximum out of the car so easily. It's a personal opinion, but you will learn a lot more from this approach. Anyway, to each his own strategy but I would like to recommend only to upgrade certain parts if you really feel it's necessary and maxed out the current car's capabilities.
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As you can see in this old video of myself, drifting with an open differential isn't easy. I didn't have a lot of experience back then but that is just the point. By doing it wrong you learn what you should do to get it right. I have learned a lot since then and you should expect to see some footage here on DriftingStreet eventually, but I am currently without a drift car and camera.
Stock VS Tuned
This drift tuning 101 focuses on outlining the differences between a tuned car and a bone-stock factory car.
Although some cars need a little tuning to get them sideways, usually not much is required for some serious drifting fun. The goal is to get it sideways with no or few modifications. Getting sideways and controlling the drift in a stock car is not very easy. Still it's important to get comfortable with the car's behavior when drifting. You will need to develop a natural reaction to the weight transitions.
Just as any other high performance motorsport there's very little time to think while drifting so you will have to learn how to react to the sudden changes in direction without thinking. Eventually everything should go subconsciously, giving you space to focus on the rest. Upgraded suspension also means that everything responds faster so you will have to react quicker.
DRIFT TUNING 101: PRACTICE WITH STOCK SETUP
If you practice drifting in stock cars first you might have a hard time getting it right, but the lesson learned from figuring out how to drift with stock suspension will help you a lot later on. Stock suspension is a lot softer than the suspension you find on tuned cars, so the car will respond slower to your driving input.
If you can't reach the car's limits in stock form there's no point in buying parts to upgrade, a car is only as good as its driver. However, as soon as you get better youll realize that drifting in stock form certainly has its limitations. Once you get familiar with weight transitions you are ready to take it to the next level by upgrading parts.
Every rear wheel drive car can drift in theory. But some cars just don't have enough to get it properly sideways so they need some basic upgrades. Usually the spring, dampers, differential and engine need some work. Read more on which cars are good for drifting in our drift cars section.
I hope this short drift tuning 101 has helped you understand what the consequenses are of installing aftermarket parts on your car. Every newly added parts changes the behavior of your car and it is essential that you understand what it does.