Need help starting out

Hey guys! This is my first time here on the Forza Motorsport forums and I’ve decided to visit because I’m in need of help improving my skills. I have been playing Forza Motorsport 4 and Forza Horizon for a while, but am absolutely awful at it. I love the music, the environments, and the excitement of driving at fast speeds but as someone in his youth who knows very little about cars, I’m a little discouraged from playing the game. I feel like there is so much I am missing out on and I want to learn more and improve, but unsure of where to start. I hope joining this community is a good start.

I used to play with a controller but have recently switched to a Mad Catz Force Feedback Racing Wheel complete with pedals.

I am unsure when to use the brake and handbrake and what the difference is between the two. I am also unsure where and what the E-brake is, as well as Clutch and what Toggle Telemetry and Toggle Heat/Damage does. One of the biggest problems I have had is when making sharp turns, the car drifts until it spins out of control making it hard for me to recover. How do you drift intentionally and what are some good tips and tricks for drifting? Will you be drifting a good amount of the time in your races?

I’ll help with the bits I can:

Brakes are for normal use, handbrake is for locking the rear wheels only (helpful for drifting, waste of time racing). E-brake IS the handbrake.

Clutch allows you to control manual shifts better (and provides faster shifts and more control).

The toggles are just HUD displays - telemetry is helpful when tuning but takes a while to understand and the heat/damage is tyre heat and damage indicators (shows when tyres are cold/hot/overheated and shows a little car when you damage yours.

For the spinning issue you need to adjust your steering and learn to adjust your throttle position to keep the car from spinning.

Can’t help much with drifting, but drifting doesn’t help in races as it slows you down.

1 Like

There are brakes on all 4 wheels. When you press the brake, you’re applying the brake pads to all 4 wheels, slowing them evenly so you don’t drift. If you want to drift you probably won’t be using this as much. The handbrake/parking brake is the same as an E, or emergency, brake. The handbrake operates only on one set of wheels, usually the rear wheels. When you use the handbrake while in motion, the difference in wheel speed and act of braking causes the wheels to lose traction, meaning that the rear of the car (if that’s where the handbrake is operating) can slide. If you’re going to drift, using the handbrake/E-brake is the easiest way to do it.

The clutch has to do with the transmission/shifting gears. There’s a gas pedal, a brake pedal, and a clutch pedal. Think of it like this: the engine drives a set of gears (A) that will convey different amounts of power/speed to the gear that drives the wheels (B) so first gear doesn’t have as much as speed as second gear; the clutch separates A from B so that you can shift gears safely and smoothly. The process goes: 1. press clutch and the gears separate. 2. shift gears: B will move over to the next gear in A’s sequence. 3. release the clutch and the gears will reconnect. Without the clutch, the gears would grind together and you’d destroy the transmission.

Although, if you use paddle shifters they go through an electric system and the car is able to optimize the gear shift and shift gears for you without needing to use a clutch.

In-game, I use a gamepad, not a wheel. So I don’t get the luxury of manual shifting, usually. In FH I usually just go automatic, and using a clutch on a gamepad is a pain because another extra button to press.

Telemetry has a lot of on-screen information, like speed, current horsepower available, steering direction, etc. Use that if you want to analyze your driving or compare it to others. Toggling heat/damage will turn on or off the more realistic simulation wear and damage. Heat will usually refer to tire heat, which can become relevant for tire grip and traction, and damage refers to cosmetic and mechanical damage. I haven’t played FM4 so I don’t know if it has mechanical damage, but FH1 doesn’t, it only has cosmetic damage. If FM4 has mechanical damage then the more damaged your car becomes from hitting other cars or anything else, the worse it will perform. So if you turn it on you’ll learn to avoid hitting things and optimize your steering.

The question is, do you want to drift or do you want the best lap times? Drifting usually won’t result in a great lap time.

When you’re turning, its best to slow down for the turn, and then accelerate out of it. The tighter the turn, the more you’ll have to decelerate. So you start on the outside and brake before entering the turn, turn smoothly into the apex (the middle-most or tightest part of the turn), and as you exit the turn you can start accelerating. Everyone has their own little nuances but that’s the basic idea. If you brake and turn while going too fast then your car will spin out or you’ll have a really hard time keeping control. In Forza Motorsport I hardly drift; in Forza Horizon I drift a lot. I wouldn’t recommend drifting in the Forza Motorsport series, its more difficult to get used to and much more difficult to master.

In Horizon, its a lot of experimentation. Switch between using only the brake and only the e-brake and see how that affects your car while turning. Go into almost any Free Roam lobby and ask them to help you and I’m sure someone will show you some things.

As an example, let’s say you’re turning right and you want to drift. Hit the e-brake and begin turning right. The back of the car will start to slide out, start adjusting your steering to the left. That’s the most basic I can make it. Keep in the mind that the longer you hold the e-brake the more sideways you’ll get, but the more you’ll lose control. I usually hold it for a short moment or tap it once or twice. Also, there are a lot of adjustments you can make while drifting, including holding/tapping the regular brake, releasing or tapping the gas, and all the minor steering adjustments. Its a lot of experimentation: different cars, different amounts of horsepower, different wheel setups will drift a bit differently. Generally, I’ve found that when a car has less power you can be less reserved and use the gas more, and when a car has more power you should be a bit more reserved and release the gas pedal more.


Welcome to the forum!!! As you can already see, this is a great place to get some help learning/improving the game. Make sure you visit some of the other areas as well, especially the tuning section. There’s a ton of info there that will help you out. Don’t try to take it all in at once, you’ll be overwhelmed. Pick one or two things to try and learn at a time. Above all, try to get some knowledgeable players on your friends list! That is probably the absolute best resource in the game. Most of us have gotten where we are through the help of others. You can send me a FR if you’d like. I’d be happy to help you out on track if I see you online.

And for the record, in 7 years of playing Forza, I have never once used the handbrake. Just saying. (I don’t drift)


Thank you so much for the replies! They were very helpful, and I’m starting to get a much better hang of the game. I guess Forza is pretty much about accelerating and making those turns through decelerate, brake, steer, and accelerate out.

My Force Feedback Racing Wheel doesn’t have a clutch pedal but I can switch gears manually without it or a separate button for clutch. On a Xbox 360 controller, will you need to press or hold down the clutch button when changing gears?

Because FM has better physics and for most people is about getting the fastest lap time that’s usually the most effective way to do it.

Its not necessary but there are options to turn the clutch on or off with manual driving. But because of the button setups it can be pretty awkward.

1 Like