Knowing how to quickly get your car unstuck from snow or mud means not having to wait on the side of the road or in a parking lot for a tow truck to arrive. If the snow is coming down hard, the tow services will already have their hands full and the wait may be a long one. If your location is fairly remote, your wait for a tow could be even longer. When you find yourself in this kind of emergency, try the tips below:
- Do not gun the engine. Spinning the wheels will only dig them deeper into the snow and make your problem worse.
- Use a makeshift shovel if you do not have one. Any nearby wooden boards or even your floor mat will do if the snow is soft. If you have a pocket knife, you can make a hand shovel from a plastic soda bottle or even better, from a plastic jug with a handle. A hubcap will also work.
- Clear out a path for each tire in the direction you wish to move. Unless the snow is higher than your car’s clearance from the ground, it is not necessary to clear out the snow for the entire car. Clearing out two paths for your tires is sufficient.
- Place dirt, sand, pine boughs, wood, or any suitable nearby material into the tracks and against your drive wheels to provide additional traction.
- Place your car in second gear. If your car has an automatic transmission, it should have some means such as a gear selector for doing this. The reason for using second gear instead of first is to limit the torque applied to the wheel. Having lots of torque (first gear) is of little use when you have little traction. It will only spin the wheels.
- Straighten your wheels and gently apply the gas. You want to apply as little gas as possible to avoid spinning the tires. When the tires start to slip, let up on the gas and apply the brakes. Go into reverse, let up on the brakes and apply a little gas. Continue this back and forth motion. Each time you do this, your car will move a little farther. Continue this routine until you get unstuck. If you have a companion, one of you can push while the other drives.
- If you are on a hill, do not work against gravity. You will want to move downhill, even if it means backing up.
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