Do you know what to do if you get stuck in the snow?

Winter is here in Colorado, and while the fresh powder is great for the ski slopes, it can be a nightmare to drive in. If you have to leave the house, do you know how to get your car get unstuck from the snow? Even the most experienced drivers may find themselves skidding into danger on snowy, icy, or slippery roads.

Freeing a car that is stuck in the snow can be frustrating and time-consuming. While the snow may be inevitable, getting your car stuck doesn’t have to be.

Make sure you don’t get stuck and left unprepared this winter – take a few minutes to ensure you have the gear and the know-how to take on the Colorado winter roads safely.


Know Before You Go

What to Do Before It Snows

Before the snow arrives there are a few things you can prepare in advance to prevent your car from getting stuck.

Winter Tires

winter tires set isolated on white background with studs in the tiresWinter tires (sometimes called snow tires) are made out of a special rubber compound and have different tread design to allow them to better maintain traction wheel accelerating, braking, and steering during winter weather conditions.

If you live or travel around areas of Colorado that regularly sees snow, ice or below freezing temperatures then winter tires are probably necessary.

But what about all season tires?

All season tires are built to handle a wide range of road conditions. All season tires can handle dry roads, wet roads and light snow. However, winter tires are designed specifically for ice, slush and snow. Experts suggest that if you live in a place where it is regularly below 40 degrees then you should invest in winter tires.

Tire Chains

Another way to improve your car’s traction in snowy or icy conditions is with tire chains. A set of winter tires can be costly, and snow chains are a more cost-effective way to achieve the same effect. Snow chains are sold in pairs and fit over your existing tires – but must be removed when there isn’t sufficient snow on the ground. If you are going to purchase tire chains, make sure you know how to put them on before the blizzard happens.

Related: Snow Tires vs. Tire Chains

Emergency Tools and Supplies

Before you head out into winter weather, it is smart to stock your car with some necessary tools. This way, if you do get stuck you will have the tools you need to get yourself out. Your car kit should include:

  • Snow shovel
  • Tire chains (optional)
  • Sand, kitty litter or rock salt (for traction)
  • Ice scraper
  • Screwdriver

You may also want to stock up on some basic survival items to keep in your car if you do get stuck and have to spend time waiting for help to arrive.

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Blankets
  • Extra coat, gloves, hats
  • Matches or flares

Related: How to Winterize Your Car (Infographic)


How to Avoid Getting Stuck

9 Winter Driving Strategies

  1. Check the weather report before any long trips. Don’t get caught in a winter storm without warning.
  2. Don’t drive under snowy or icy conditions if you are tired or otherwise impaired.
  3. Be sure to clean your car off thoroughly. This includes all of your windows and headlights. Make sure you have clear visibility.
  4. Always buckle up.
  5. Keep an 8-10 second distance between you and the next car, you may need more room than normal to brake safely if the conditions are slippery.
  6. Accelerate and brake slowly. Slamming on your gas or brake in snowy conditions can cause a spinout.
  7. Don’t use cruise control in icy conditions.
  8. If you begin to skid, take your foot off the gas slowly until you are able to regain control of your car.
  9. Put your car into a lower gear when turning corners, or going slower, for more traction.

Related: Winter Driving Tips and Car Maintenance


7 Tips to Get Your Car Unstuck from Snow

Even if you practice all of the safe winter driving tips to help you avoid getting stuck, you may still find yourself on the side of the road or in a snow bank. Whether you are stuck in the snow, ice or mud the techniques to get out are the same. These steps along with tools we listed above can help to get you unstuck.

  1. Don’t spin your tires, this will only dig your car in deeper.
  2. Use your shovel and ice scraper to dig away the snow around your car. Pay particular attention to the area around your tires and the front of your car.
  3. If there is ice around your tires use your screwdriver to break it up, this will help your wheels get more traction.
  4. Once back in your car, make sure your steering wheel is set to face your wheels straight ahead. Make sure your car is in the lowest possible gear and move forward slowly.
  5. If step number 4 does not work, try turning your steering wheel slightly and try again. If you have tire chains, this is a good time to use them.
  6. If you are still stuck use your kitty litter, sand, or rock salt in front of your tires to help them gain traction.
  7. As a last resort, you can try to rock your car out by going into reverse and accelerating slowly.


Can’t Get Unstuck?

What to Do While Waiting for Help

Hopefully, the steps above have helped you free your car and you are back safely on the road.

Cars stuck under heavy snow on the side of the roadIf you are still stuck, it is time to call for help. Don’t try to walk home in a snowstorm. While you wait for help, hunker down with your blankets and other supplies as needed to keep yourself warm and safe. Make sure there is no snow or mud clogging your tailpipe. If your tailpipe is clogged you risk deadly gases leaking into the cabin of your car, which can be fatal to you and your passengers.

Related: How to Winterize Your Muffler and Exhaust System


Visit AAMCO Colorado to Stay This Winter

Don’t forget to bring your car in for seasonal checkups to your local AAMCO Colorado location to make sure your car is in good working order.

Take advantage of our free winter safety inspection; don’t risk your family’s safety on the road this winter. Schedule an appointment online with AAMCO Colorado today.