Winter is coming! And with it comes lots and lots of snow. Snow is great if you want to build snowmen, have snowball fights, go skiing or make snow angels, but it’s very unpleasant when you have somewhere to be and your car’s buried in it.
What do you do when you have somewhere to drive to, but it snowed all last night, and now your car is buried in the stuff? You could call an Uber, or you can use any of these five quick fixes to free your car from the clutches of snow.
Five Ways to Get Your Car Out of Snow
1. Add Traction
The reason your car can’t move is that your tires can’t get a good enough grasp of the ground beneath them. It’s the equivalent of you trying to run barefoot on ice. The simple solution to this problem is to increase traction by placing suitable objects in the path of your tires.
The best tools to use for this are specially designed traction boards. There are many different types to choose from, but we’ve outlined the 10 best traction boards. If you don’t have traction boards, you can use several other objects to add traction; here’s a shortlist of suitable materials.
- Kitty litter
- Your car’s floormats
- Sticks or Branches
- Little rocks/pebbles, etc.
These objects will help your tires get a better grip on the ground and get you free in no time. As a safety precaution, ensure you clear the surrounding area of your vehicle before you attempt to accelerate; this is because objects, especially smaller loose objects like rocks and sticks, can be sent flying if they’re not embedded into the ground.
Another critical thing to remember is to turn off traction control if you’re stuck in the snow. It’s great if you run into ice on the road, but it’s counterproductive in this situation. Traction control inhibits the tire’s ability to rotate without traction, this is known as wheelspin, and it can help free your car.
Remember to re-engage your traction control once you’re free of the snow.
2. Clear Snow Around the Tires
You’ll undoubtedly find a lot of snow and ice under and around your car, particularly if you had previously tried to drive your way out of it and only ended up getting more stuck.
The idea is to level as much of the area surrounding your car as possible to give it better leverage. Clear snow and ice in front and behind the tires to drive forward and backward. Also, clear the snow beneath your car as much as you can.
A shovel is the best tool for the job, and you should permanently store one in your car. You can improvise if you don’t have one nearby; hockey sticks are good substitutes.
3. Slightly Deflate Tires
Release a small amount of air from your tires, just enough to make them appear lower. Slightly deflated tires make better contact with the ground, providing improved traction for a small distance.
This method is more straightforward if you have a tire pressure gauge. If you do, or if your car has an inbuilt Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), then let out a max of seven pounds per square inch (PSI) of air from each tire. Lower a tire’s pressure to about 28 psi if it’s at 35 psi. Make sure you don’t deflate them too much, as flat tires will exacerbate the problem.
If you don’t have a tire pressure gauge, here are the best tire pressure gauges you can choose from.
Only utilize this technique if you have a quick method to get the tires refilled somewhere nearby. It is not safe to drive with underinflated tires, and it may damage them if the distance covered is long.
It’s worth adding that releasing too much air will also reduce your vehicle’s ground clearance, so if you’re already having problems clearing snow from beneath your car, doing this might worsen the situation.
4. Rock Back and Forth
This technique is ideal if you can drive a few inches forwards. The rocking technique is simple; drive the car forward, then backward with the reverse gear, then repeat. To keep your tires from slipping back into the craters they’ve dug, use your brakes at the top of your forward and backward drives.
You’ll be making progress since you’re gaining momentum, albeit slowly. However, note that this is a tricky maneuver that can be tough on the transmission. Only do it a few times, but don’t attempt it at all if you’re not sure you can do it correctly. A transmission repair is expensive.
5. Push it Out
It’s not fancy, but it’s effective. Even before cars were invented, people used to free things from snow and mud with this old and trusted method. Pushing your automobile out of the snow can be a simple yet effective option if you have additional passengers in your car or kind bystanders who can assist.
To generate more momentum, gently press the gas pedal as the vehicle is being pushed. As a safety precaution to avoid injury, ensure you only use the gear that keeps people out of harm’s way (forward gear if they’re pushing your car from the rear and backward gear if they’re pushing from the front). Also, ensure that the ground isn’t too slippery for them to push.
If you’re moving forward when the car breaks free, keep moving till you find a place with less snow to stop at. Likewise, If you’re in reverse, keep reversing for a few meters before releasing the gas.
Getting stuck in snow can be a frustrating experience, especially if you’re in a time-sensitive situation. It’s important not to panic. Any of these five fixes will help get your car free in no time, and you’ll be on your way.
Remember to turn your traction control back on if you turned it off, and also make sure you quickly re-inflate your tires if you let any air out.