Getting your vehicle stuck in snow and ice can be a very likely possibility with winter driving. To prepare yourself in the case of a winter emergency, read the following tips to prepare yourself in case you get stuck in the snow.
Ready your car for the brutal winter driving season by ensuring that it is in peak form. Have it serviced at the beginning of the season, switch out your tires for winter tires (or, at the very least, make sure they are in excellent condition), check that all lights are working and that all fluids are filled, and never drive with less than half a tank.
Image by Michael Pereckas via Flickr
If you don’t already have an emergency snow kit in your car, compile one now. At a minimum, you should have a windshield scraper and brush, spare windshield washer fluid, clothing (extra sweatshirts, gloves, scarves, hats, boots), chemical hand warmers, traction aid (sand, rock sand, kitty litter, cardboard, metal cleats), and a shovel. See more tips in our "Winterizing Your Vehicle" blog.
As with all emergency situations, it doesn’t help to panic. Remain calm and proceed with a clear and calm mind. A level head is the first and best tool you will need if you get stuck in the winter.
Clear the Tailpipe
This step is essential in preventing deadly fumes from entering your car. snow spit up from spinning wheels or slippery ice can accumulate and block your tailpipe without you realizing it.
Try Digging Yourself Out
Do what you can to clear as much snow away from the tires as you can. Remove packed snow and ice and be careful not to puncture your tires. after you remove as much as you can, add sand, rocks, or kitty litter to the ground behind your tires to create traction.
Rock Yourself Out
If possible, engage your all-wheel or four-wheel drive and set your car on the lowest gear. Slowly try to back up or drive forward. If you are making even a few inches of progress, keep at it until you have enough traction to drive out. Be careful, though. If your tires are spinning, stop immediately, as this will only dig your car in deeper. Rocking your car back and forth should be done carefully, and only as a last resort as it could seriously kill your transmission when not properly executed.
Turn Your Wheels
Another way to find traction is to turn your steering wheel in different directions as you try to drive your way out. This can give you extra traction, but it can also dig your tires in further, so don’t overdo it. When possible, add more sand or kitty litter to the marks from your tires.
Important Tips to Remember
- If you can, remain in your car with the heat on. The dangers of being outside can include frostbite and possibly getting hit by a passing car.
- Know when to rest and know when to stop. Don’t exert yourself to the point of exhaustion, and don’t do extensive damage to your car.
- Less can be more. You shouldn’t need to slam on the gas to get unstuck. You might be surprised at how little power and pressure you need to get out.
Once you have pulled yourself out of danger, drive to the nearest rest stop or gas station to assess any damage. For more tips on what to do if you get stuck in snow, read these Winter Survival Tips from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.