How to free a car stuck in mud – a step by step guide

Finding that your car is stuck in the mud is trying at the best of times.

Whether it’s in a grassy car park after enjoying a festival, being caught out on muddy country road or even during a weekend of off-road driving, it’s something all drivers wish to avoid. Having to rely on a tow truck service to then pull your car out of the mud only adds to the stress and expense of an already frustrating situation.

All this hassle and aggravation can potentially be avoided with some helpful tips from our 4-step guide to freeing a car that's stuck in mud. The same principles apply to electric vehicles here as well.

If you need roadside assistance you can call the RAC on 03301 598 751 whether you’re a member or not.

How to get a car out of mud

1. Stay calm

If you suddenly find yourself stuck it can be very tempting to push your foot down hard in an attempt free your car quickly before it sinks any further. Unfortunately this only make matters worse.

Before you do anything, stop the car, have your passengers get out and stand a safe distance from the vehicle. With the weight of the car now reduced it should lessen the chances of you sinking further into the mud.

2. Avoid wheel spin

Your car has a better chance of moving if the tyres have some room to manoeuvre. To achieve this, move your steering wheel back and forth to create the necessary room.

Push gently on the accelerator and move as slowly as possible, using the weight of the vehicle to get some traction. For automatics, put the car into its lowest gear; for manuals, use the highest possible gear (2nd or possibly 3rd) and gently release the clutch.

3. Deflate tyres

Whilst rocking the car back and forth, swiftly change from reverse to drive. Do this no more than 8 times as you can risk damaging your car.

This is a little easier in an automatic or EV, since going from drive to reverse will take less footwork than a manual.

If this fails to free the car, increase the surface area of the tyres by releasing a small amount of air from them. Then dig out an area around the tyres and place something rough under them to provide further traction, be it branches, boards, old blankets or even car floor mats.

Return to the vehicle and once again push gently on the accelerator, moving as slowly as possible until the tyres get some traction and you are able to accelerate out of the hole.

4. Check the car

After your vehicle is free, remember to inflate your tyres to their appropriate pressure.

Be sure to drive slowly to shed the excess mud from your tyres, before returning to drive at the normal speed. It is also recommended you stop at a safe place to inspect your vehicle for damage. Brake lines are particularly vulnerable in these situations and must be fixed immediately if they are damaged.