Waking up to find that your car stuck in snow is something all motorists dread. Whereas being stuck in other conditions can be resolved using a tow service, when it comes to snow, if the weather is bad enough for you to get stuck in the first place it could also mean that a tow truck will not be able to reach you. Under these circumstances, knowing how to free a snowbound car yourself could be a less stressful and less time-consuming option.
How to Get a Car Out of Snow
Refrain from slamming your foot on the pedal. Heavy braking can make the car sink even deeper and can cause wheel spin. Under normal conditions when a car is stuck, the driver would instruct the passengers to leave the car to reduce the weight of the vehicle. This is generally desirable, but if the weather is not accommodating it’s better for passengers to stay in the vehicle unless leaving it is absolutely necessary.
Clear space around the car
Clear the tailpipe of snow to prevent the build-up of fumes inside the car. Then proceed to dig away the snow and ice that surrounds the vehicle and is under the tyres. If you don’t have a shovel close to hand, use a trowel, screwdriver or another suitable object. As well as the snow around the car, clear snow that is in the direction you’ll be driving your vehicle out of.
Increase traction by letting a little air out of the tyres, but without making them visibly lower. Straighten the wheels as much as possible, as this will make is much easier for the car to move than if they are turned. Also ensure you are in as low a gear as possible and gently accelerate using the weight of the vehicle to get traction.
Ride the brakes
In heavy snow, tyres may spin unevenly due to the lack of resistance. Braking slightly will counter this and transfer power to the other tyre enabling both tyres to operate evenly. If you are still unable to drive free, be careful not to overdo it as brakes can overheat, which can affect stopping distances until the brakes have returned to normal temperature.
If you’re not getting any grip, try putting the car’s floor mat in front of the driving tyres (this will depend on whether your car is front or rear-wheel drive). As before, apply pressure on the accelerator gently and ensure no-one is standing behind the car in case the mats spin out.
Rock the car
Shifting quickly between forward and reverse gear can give you more room, but it should be a last resort. Be careful not to do this as the transmission can become overloaded and fail when the momentum is shifted so quickly.