Tips, Tricks & Trends

What Is a ‘J-Turn’ and Is it Illegal?

Have you ever wanted to be a stunt car driver or wanted to learn how to drive like one? If so, then the “J-Turn” is one of the most basic and important driving techniques that you will need to learn. But what is a “J-turn” and is it illegal to do one on the street?

What is a J-turn?

The “J-turn” is a driving maneuver that is also known as the “reverse 180.” The reason its called that is that when you carry out the maneuver, your car will be going in reverse and then will do a 180-degree turn to go the other direction while facing forward. You have most likely seen this technique used in just about every action movie with a car chase scene including the “Fast and Furious” and “Jason Bourne” franchises. In case you still aren’t familiar with the technique, then here’s a video to demonstrate it:

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How do you do a J-turn?

If you’re feeling adventurous and would like to try this driving maneuver with your own car, then we highly suggest finding an open parking lot first. Once you find that open space and ensure that you have enough room to practice, then follow these steps:

  • Bring the car to a complete stop and put it into reverse
  • Remember to look over your shoulder and have your left hand on the steering wheel in the 12 o’clock position
  • Drive in reverse for around two to three seconds in a straight line
  • Liftoff the gas pedal and turn the steering wheel 180 degrees to the 6 o’clock position
  • The car will begin to spin. Just make sure to keep your eyes on where you want the car to end up
  • Halfway through the spin, shift the car into first gear (or “D” for an automatic)
  • When the car finishes the spin, put the steering wheel back in the 12 ‘o clock position
  • Drive forward

(Note: We do not condone illegal driving of any kind. So be sure to be safe at all times and try this maneuver at your own risk.)

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Is the J-turn illegal?

While there probably aren’t any hard and fast rules in any DMV handbook regarding J-turns, it might a good idea to keep them to a minimum. Before you received your driver’s license, you most likely learned how to do a three-point turn. In fact, you may have even been tested on it.

That’s because the three-point turn in a safe area is the legal way to get your car going the other direction, while the J-turn should be more reserved for car chases and times when you need to quickly get away from whatever is happening on the road ahead. Just remember that practicing this maneuver could possibly lead to damage to your car, its surroundings, and possibly even yourself. Just because you can drive like Jason Bourne, it doesn’t mean you are him. Actually, no we’re wondering if Matt Damon can actually pull off a J-turn in real life.