Beginners Guide on How to Launch A Car

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Acceleration from a standstill can really get your adrenaline pumping. Be it for drag racing, 0-60 testing or just for fun; launching a car can truly be rewarding if done right. In fact, some find it even to be more thrilling than Drifting. The sense of getting the perfect grip and nailing the shifts is something that can only be known when experienced.

Now, a lot of you may think that this can only be done of high-performance cars with Launch Control, which isn’t exactly true. Yes, a launch control will get you the best launch in most situations but there are ways to achieve that without it. This guide is for people with cars without launch control as it varies with each car. I also won’t be including Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) as most DCT cars, if not all, come with launch control.

GIF: Giphy

A car without launch control can be launched but you need to be careful while doing so. A non-performance car is not meant to be driven hard and the engine components can get damaged under stress. So do this at your own risk, preferably on a car that you are not dependant on. It’s also important to keep safety in mind. I do not recommend trying anything on public roads with traffic.

With that out of the way, let’s have a look at ways you can launch your car. This guide will be sorted based on the type of transmission your car has.

Automatic Transmission

Note that by an automatic transmission, I refer to one with a Torque Converter. This includes Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) as well. It is fairly easy to launch an automatic car. Here are the steps:

  1. Press the brake, put your car in Drive or 1st (if shifting manually).
  2. Press the accelerator all the way or at the desired RPM while the brake is pressed.
  3. Release the brake while simultaneously increasing the throttle input.
  4. If the car starts to lose grip, cut back on the throttle.
  5. Once it grips, gently apply it again.
  6. If shifting manually, shift gears at or near redline for best possible acceleration.

It may seem simple and it probably is. However, once you do it in real life, you’ll notice that there’s a lot more to it than just pressing and holding the accelerator and brake. The grip should be your primary concern as too much throttle can lead to the loss of it. To figure out the best RPM, you need to know the drivetrain and the power output of your car.

If your car is Front-Wheel-Drive then it is to note that it will lose grip the fastest. High power and FWD may be good for endless burnouts but this is different. Here you need as much grip as possible. In fact, you’ll get the best acceleration at the point when you’re on the verge of losing traction. You need to be well acquainted with your car to know its limits to master that.

In the first attempt, press the accelerator all the way. If you hear tire squeals, it means too much throttle input. Try again with lesser throttle input. For the best launch, you just need to hear a chirp or nothing at all when you release the brake.

In Rear-Wheel-Drive (RWD) and All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) cars, the process is the same. You have slightly more grip with RWD than FWD which means you can launch at a higher RPM with more throttle input. However, when RWD cars lose grip, they can get out of control so do bear that in mind. AWD cars have the most grip out of the three, which means you can press the throttle all the way and the car will grip.

Manual Transmission

Manual Transmission cars are trickier to launch than automatics as there’s an additional variable (clutch) that gets added to the equation. However, it is not impossible and can be done if you follow these steps:

  1. Put your car in First gear while pressing the clutch and start applying the throttle until you reach your desired RPM.
  2. Once you’ve reached the desired RPM, release the clutch while simultaneously increasing the throttle input.
  3. If the car starts to lose grip, cut back on the throttle.
  4. Once it grips, gently apply it again.
  5. Shift gears at or near redline for best possible acceleration.

Once again, this seems easy on paper but is tougher when you try it out in real life. There may be times when you stall your car or just end up having a burnout as, unlike automatic cars, the power delivery is instant rather than gradual. You also need to know that this procedure will shorten the life of your clutch so it’s better to only try it once in a while.

The rest is the same as automatic cars, FWD has the least grip while AWD has the most grip. RWD comes in-between. You need to adjust your RPM accordingly as higher RPM equals more power.

It’s not recommended to try this on your daily driver. As I’ve mentioned before, this does eventually cause the parts to wear down quicker. However, if there is no other option, try not to do it frequently. Make it more of an occasion. That way you’ll enjoy it more and your car will stay reliable.

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