When cooler weather hits and we get snow, sleet, or rain, drivers are at risk of getting stuck in snow, ice, and mud.
Don’t Figure Out How to Get Your Car Unstuck Too Late
The last thing you need is to get stuck somewhere in bad weather without knowing what to do.
Most people try to step on the gas and plow out of there but that rarely ever works and instead sets the wheels spinning while digging the car deeper into a pit.
There are a variety of better ways to get your car unstuck and be on your way but it’s important to keep the right tools in the car at all times.
Tools to Keep in the Trunk
The worst thing about getting stuck in bad weather is knowing how to help yourself but not having any tools. These basic tools will help get you get your car unstuck from a cold and wet jam.
- Spade Shovel
- Ice Scraper
- Rebar or Screwdriver
- Rock Salt, Table Salt, Kitty Litter, or Sand
- Snow Chains (Optional)
- Car Mats
We’ll get into how to use these tools below but in case it takes a while, it would be good to also have these in your car kit:
- Extra Water
- Space Blanket or Normal Blanket
What to Do When Your Car Gets Stuck
When your car gets stuck in snow, ice, or mud, the process of getting out is generally the same except for a couple of things. Follow these steps using the tools above to get your car out and back on the road.
- Don’t spin the tires and try to rock your way out. This digs the car deeper in and further traps it.
- Check to see if there’s any snow or mud in the tailpipe and remove it to prevent carbon monoxide from building up dangerous gases in the car.
- Use the shovel or ice scraper to dig away snow or mud around the car, especially around the tires and in front of the car. If there is snow above the clearance of the car, it will make getting out especially difficult.
- If there is ice around the tires, break it up using the rebar or screwdriver. This will also create traction for the tires.
- Get in the car and make sure the steering wheel is set with the wheels pointing straight ahead. Put the car in the lowest possible gear and back up slowly, then move forward slowly, and repeat to gain traction. Avoid flooring the engine as this will damage the transmission.
- If this doesn’t get your car unstuck, then try turning the steering wheel slightly and try step 5 again. This is also a good time to put on snow chains on your tires if you have any.
- Still stuck? Scatter rock salt, table salt, kitty litter, or sand in front of the tires for extra traction.
- Not working? Time to bring out the car mats and place them in front of the tires and try again.
- As a last resort, rock the car out by accelerating and reversing but being careful not to ride it too hard. Shifting too quickly can cause the transmission to get overloaded and fail.
Success or Call For Help
By this point you’ve already cleared your car out and are on your way to your destination. If not, you’re probably stuck pretty badly and it’s time to call for help. Then hunker down with your blanket, water, and snacks until help arrives.
Keep your car in great condition, especially with colder weather. If you are about to take a road trip or road your car pretty hard when you were stuck, it is good to bring it in for a preventative multi-point inspection and avoid any costly damages later on.
Either way, it’s best to bring your car in for seasonal checkups at the start of each new season and make sure your transmission is in good working order.