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How to Get Your Stuck Car Out of Snow or Mud

Getting stuck in snow or mud is such a frustrating occurrence. You might feel helpless, but there are a few simple steps you can follow to get unstuck. Let’s get right to the point.

6 Steps to Get Your Car Unstuck

These 6 steps are designed to help you get your car out of mud or snow. Different circumstances might call for additional steps, but this is the general guide.

#1: Make a Plan

Before stomping on the gas pedal and crossing your fingers, make a plan. Take a look at your surroundings and see how stuck you really are. Make sure your hazard lights are on and your car is lit up if it’s dark. The last thing you want is someone to rear-end you and make your problems worse.

Get out of your car and take a look. What is your car stuck on? Is it every wheel or just one? How deep is the snow or mud in the area that you’re stuck at?

If you’re stuck in the snow, look at your exhaust pipe. If snow is covering your exhaust pipe, lethal carbon monoxide will build up in your car. Shovel out the area with your hands and make sure the pipe has enough room to breathe.

If you have a second person with you, see which wheel spins when the gas is pressed.

#2: It’s All About Traction

The reason you’re not moving is a matter of traction. Snow and mud don’t have a lot of traction for your tires to grip onto. The result? Getting stuck and having your tires spin without moving.

Since there isn’t enough traction, it’s time to make your own. There are a few ways to add traction to your tires: sand, rocks, logs, gravel, sand-based kitty litter, or even a floor mat will work. You’ll add these items directly under, behind, and in front of the tire that’s stuck.

This works through a little bit of science. You’re adding high-traction items around a traction-less bit of snow or mud. The hope is that your tire will grip this added material and dislodge your car.

If you don’t have any of these items, you can use the piece of material that covers your spare tire.

Keep in mind, anything you use here will get torn apart and destroyed. It’s always best to start with items that you don’t care about before resorting to car mats and spare tire covers.

#3: Jack Up Your Car

If that doesn’t work, then try jacking up your car. This method works well if you have large items like gravel, rocks, planks, or logs. Jack up your car nearest to the wheel that’s stuck and throw this extra material under. Don’t forget to remove the jack before getting back in the car and hitting the gas pedal.

NOTE: jacking your car only works if the ground is flat and firm under your car.

#4: Get Rid of Some Air

If you flatten your tires, there will be more surface area in contact with the ground. The result? A better chance of getting that traction that you need.

You never want to dump more than 15 PSI from the manufacturer-suggested pressure rating in any of your tires. For example: if your tires are supposed to be 35 PSI, don’t let them go below 20 PSI in this step.

A quick way to get rid of air safely is to take off your valve stem covers and apply pressure to the mouth of the valve. You can use a rock or a key to do so. Make sure you routinely check the pressure so you don’t release too much.

Releasing too much air can destroy your wheels altogether.

Give it another go and see if that helped. Make sure you refill your tires as soon as you can.

#5: Give it a Push

If the first steps don’t work, then you will need to resort to some manual labor. The method is to rock (or swing) your car forward and backward. Imagine you’re pushing your 1.5-ton child on the swing.

If you have someone that can stay in the driver’s seat, it will work better. Have the car in drive and have them apply the gas pedal gently when you get to the forward arc of your swing.

If you’re all alone, keep the car in neutral. Putting it in “drive” means it will drive away from you when you get it unstuck and it might wind up crashing.

You should be able to feel the rhythm of the car as it rocks back and forth. Time your pushes accordingly so you don’t burn yourself out.

#6: Call a Tow Truck

Are you still stuck? Sorry, there might not be much else you can do. If you don’t have a winch attached to your car, then the tow truck is the only other option.

It’s up to you how far you want them to tow you. If the entire road is equally snowy or muddy, you might ask them to bring your car all the way back to your house or to the next intersection.

Conclusion

These 6 steps will get your car unstuck from mud or snow. There are multiple different methods to try, so hopefully, it worked out for you without having to call a tow truck. At any rate, we’re glad you’re unstuck.

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Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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