The recent rescues of an Arizona woman trapped in her car on a remote, snowy road and a Texas family stranded in a snow bank for two days highlight the importance of being prepared for getting stuck in the snow in Colorado. As with most things, it’s easy to forget to form a backup plan for getting your car out of a snow drift until it actually happens. Fortunately, these rules and tricks are easy to follow and can make all the difference when the weather turns foul—and for more information on keeping you and your car safe during Colorado winters, visit one of our Colorado auto repair locations.
What to bring: Pack a bag with a screwdriver and hand trowel and throw it in your car. These items are small and easy to store in a trunk or backseat, as opposed to a full-sized snow shovel. Make sure you have blankets, warm clothing, and emergency food in case you need to wait for help. It’s wise to keep snow chains in your car as well, especially during the winter months.
What to do: When you find yourself stuck in snow, the first thing to remember is safety. Turn on your hazard lights, check and make sure the road is free of other vehicles before getting out, and minimize your time outside of the car.
The second thing to do is to check your tailpipe. If it’s blocked by snow, clear it—this can cause deadly fumes to build up in your car. Dig out the snow immediately surrounding your tires, and break up the ice under the tires with the screwdriver (or anything sharp you have handy.) This will give your wheels more traction. Clear away snow that’s higher than you vehicle’s clearance in the direction your car is going to move, and make sure there aren’t any smaller snow bumps that your car might not be able to go over.
Straighten your wheels as much as possible and try to create even more traction by sprinkling rock salt, sand, or kitty litter in front of your tires. Pouring extra windshield wiper fluid on icy tires will help thaw them out. If your tires still need more traction, you can lay branches or weeds from the side of the road under them—only use floor mats as a last resort, since they’ll likely be ruined.
What to not do: Some common mistakes motorists make when trying to free their car can end up causing far more damage and expense than just having the vehicle stuck in snow. Techniques such as rocking your car by switching it rapidly from forward to reverse can damage your transmission—a much more costly fix than calling for a tow. Make sure you clear snow from your grille before driving off—blocking this vent can cause your car to overheat.
If all else fails: Call a tow truck. It’s wise to have a membership with an organization like AAA to make the process of calling for help as simple and reliable as possible. Remember that depending on how many other motorists need aid, you may end up waiting a while before help comes—so make sure you have blankets, warm clothes, and emergency food in your car to stay safe and comfortable.
As always, AAMCO is here to meet you and your vehicle’s needs. Next time you’re searching Colorado auto repair shops, visit one of our expert Colorado mechanics at one of our convenient locations. For more information on Colorado vehicle maintenance, or to find an AAMCO transmission expert near you, visit www.aamcocolorado.com. Those who know, go to AAMCO!
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