In the world of tactical driving the J-turn can prove a simple yet very effective manoeuvre, enabling you to turn the car whilst in reverse, spinning the car 180 degrees so it’s facing forwards to enable a hasty getaway.
The J-turn can be traced back to the prohibition days when the moonshiner’s transported illegal whiskey across country (think The Dukes Of Hazzard). There’s also the bootlegger’s turn, which is the same manoeuvre only the car is driven forwards at the start.
To the average driver this may sound extremely tricky, something seen in action movies, but the J-turn is very easy to perform, turning the car without loosing much momentum.
To perform the J-turn with automatic transmission:
- Ensuring you have loads of room on both sides and no other vehicles are present, shift into reverse.
- Accelerate up to around the 30mph mark, making sure you don’t come off the gas.
- Position your hands at 2 o’clock and 8 o’clock on the steering wheel.
- In a swift motion lift of the gas, and yank the wheel anti-clockwise, slightly more than half a turn.
- The car will turn sharply to your right.
- When your car has nearly completed 180 degrees, spin the wheel back in the opposite direction – this will bring the wheels back in line.
- Shift into drive and accelerate away.
If you own a manual car, the directions are exactly the same, although you’ll need to perform a double clutch.
So with the listed directions in mind, incorporate the following into the manoeuvre.
- Clutch in.
- Shift to neutral.
- Clutch out.
- Clutch in and shift into first.
- Clutch out and accelerate away.
Although this guy ends up a few degrees off at the end, this is what a perfectly executed J Turn looks like:
It may take you a handful of times to master, but the key aspect of completing it successfully is speed. If you don’t maintain speed throughout the whole manoeuvre, the car simply won’t complete a full 180 degrees.
So the next time you find yourself in a chase with a car heading your way, perform the J-turn and leave them in a cloud of dust and tyre smoke.