Unless this is your first week living here in the frozen north, you’ve probably been stuck in the snow. There’s no shame in it, we all have. It’s not fun, but it’s just part of life up here in Manitoba. Next time your wheels are free spinning in the snow, here are some tips for getting yourself unstuck, so you don’t spend your hard earned cash on a costly tow.
Step 1: Safety First
Being stuck in the snow is annoying, but being dead or seriously injured is worse. If you’re in a high traffic area, skip these suggestions and just call the tow truck.
If you’re in a place where you do have space to safely try to get unstuck, the first thing you should do is get out of the vehicle and insure the tailpipe isn’t blocked by snow. You don’t breathe in excess carbon monoxide while you try to get your car free.
Step 2: Clear The Way
If you have tire chains, now would be a good time to put them on. Either way, keeping reading.
You keep a shovel in your car for winter driving, right? If not, go get one. Before you even try to get unstuck, you’ll want to clear away excess snow and ice. Doing this rather than spinning out for several minutes can make for a clean, easy getaway.
Step 3: Drive Away, Gently.
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to get their car out of a slippery situation is applying too much gas. Accelerating isn’t going to get you out, it’s just going to dig you in deeper and make your chances of getting out that much slimmer.
Straighten out your wheels and accelerate gently. Do not floor the gas pedal. If you’re in an automatic transmission, using low gear can help. In a manual transmission vehicle, ease off the clutch very slowly and deliberately. With a little luck and some finesse, you may be able to drive away.
If that doesn’t work, “rock” the vehicle: Gently, but quickly, alternate between forward and reverse. You may be able to gain traction and drive or back out of your predicament.
Stuck In Snow Troubleshooting
If you’re still stuck, take a deep breath—hope is not lost. We’re moving on to the advanced techniques.
Let Some Air Out of The Tires
Letting a little air out of your tires can give you an edge. It will increase surface area and traction, allowing you to get out. Be careful not to let too much air out, you don’t want to be driving on a flat and don’t forget to air them back up as soon as you can get to air.
Use this Cheap Stuff to Improve Traction
Add cat litter, sand or salt to your shopping list and keep them in your trunk for the next time you’re stuck in the winter. Adding any of these under your wheels. can make a huge difference by improving traction. Apply and repeat step 3.
If you’re stuck and unprepared (maybe you’re stuck while you’re reading this), it’s too late to buy kitty litter but you’ve probably got a good last resort option anyway. Grab your floor mats and put them under your drive wheels. After you get unstuck, don’t forget to stop and pick up your mats!
Better Idea: Don’t Get Stuck In the First Place
Traction is the key to staying on the road in the winter. Adding winter tires to your vehicle is the single best way to improve your traction and is as simple as a quick visit to your local car service center.
At Ride Time, we offer a wide selection of seasonal tires, including studded and studless winter tires, performance winter tires and all-terrain tires. And thanks to the MPI Winter Tire Program, buying and storing seasonal tires has never been easier or more affordable.
Photos credit: Daniel Veazey