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6 Tips for When You're Stuck in the Snow

Your car is stuck in the snow. Don't break your transmission by rocking it back and forth from drive to reverse. Here are 6 tips for getting out of a snow bank.

AAMCO Lees Summit, MO  | 01/03/2018  | Transmission Advice

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6 Tips for When You're Stuck in the Snow

Are you prepared for the snow season?

Ready to get your vehicle free if it gets stuck in the snow?

It can be easy to panic when your car gets stuck in the snow, but it can be easier to get out than you may think. As long as you know a few simple tips and do a little bit of preparation beforehand, you'll be able to get your car free from the snow quickly and easily if the time comes.

Below we'll look at the top 6 tips for getting out of the snow when you're stuck.

Getting Ready for Snow Season

The best thing you can do to prepare for the snow season is to plan accordingly in the first place so that once you get stuck in the snow, you will have everything you need to get free.

It is an excellent idea to keep a few tools in your vehicle at all times once the snow season rolls around. Having a few helpful tools in your car when you get stuck in the snow will help you make sure you're ready should the time come.

A few tools you may want to prepare your vehicle with include:

  • A Snow Shovel
  • Sandbags, Kitty Litter, Cardboard, or Carpet Scraps
  • Snow Chains
  • A Hi-Lift Jack
  • A Winch or Tow Strap

Before snow season comes around, it's also a great idea to prepare your car by having a little bit of winter maintenance performed on your car.

It can be helpful to make sure your tires aren't too worn out and that they are filled with air. You'll also want to check your fluid levels. Additionally, you'll need to make sure brakes, wipers, lights, brakes, and your car battery are in great working condition.

What to Do When Your Car is Stuck in the Snow

1. Prepare For Your Escape

If your car becomes stuck in the snow, there are a few things you need to do first before you simply start gassing it and revving your engine to your heart's desire.

First of all, if your car has traction control, you should turn it off. If you have low-range 4WD or a low gear setting put your car into that setting now, before trying to get free.

Be sure not to floor the gas when you're ready to try to get your car unstuck, but keep your movements under control and take it easy instead.

Remember not to panic. Remain calm and keep your emotions in check, as things will go much more smoothly if you simply focus on the task at hand.

2. Clear a Path Around Your Tires

The next thing you should do is to clear a path around your tires, as this will help your car break free from the snow with more ease. This is a great time to use the shovel you keep in your vehicle, but another tool will suffice in a pinch as well.

You'll want to start with the drive tires, and spend a little time digging out the snow and ice from the front, back, and underneath area of the tires.

Also make a little room in front of and behind the tires as well, if possible, clearing a path long enough to move forward and backward a bit as you try to maneuver your car free from the snow.

Make sure to get rid of any snow around your wheels that is higher than your car's ground clearance as well as any excessive snow that is at the front of your vehicle.

3. Improve Your Traction

Before attempting to get your car free, you need to look for a way to improve the traction underneath your tires, and there are several different things you can use to do this.

It's a great idea to bring sandbags, cardboard, or carpet scraps in your trunk at all times, and believe it or not, kitty litter can also be one of the best tools for getting enough traction underneath your tires.

Put the sand, cardboard, carpet scraps, or kitty litter under your car and around your tires. If necessary, use a hi-lift jack to create room for you to put your cardboard or other forms of traction underneath. This extra traction can be a huge help in getting your car unstuck.

4. Get Your Car Moving

Once you have traction and have cleared up some of the snow that has built up around your tires, it's time to start trying to move your car. Be careful because it's possible to hurt your transmission if you don't do it right.

Try using the "forward and back technique" to maneuver your car free from the snow. Here's how:

  • First, start your engine and make sure your vehicle is using the lowest gear
  • Roll down your window to make sure you can hear what's happening outside
  • Watch your front tire from your window, if possible
  • Straighten the wheel as much as you can and move forward just a little bit
  • Back up slowly
  • Stop again, put your vehicle in forward gear.
  • Go forward a bit more

Using this method should help compress some of the loose snow and allow you to get free.

Make sure when doing this that you don't rev your engine too much. Listen closely and if your tires begin spinning, make sure to remove your foot from the gas pedal immediately.

5. Get By With A Little Help From Your Friends

One of the best ways to get out of the snow is to get a little help from others. Whether your passengers can help or you receive help from people who are passing by and eager to help, your best bet is to use the power of teamwork to get your car free.

If you have passengers, they can get out and help you push your car. Make sure that you are in forward, and then have any helpers push all at once on the count of three, and while they push, make sure to press your gas down just a little bit. Hopefully, your car will break free.

Another option to get free is to have the car towed. If you know someone with a 4WD vehicle who can come help you, this can be great. You may also want to consider using a tow strap or a winch to have another vehicle help tow you out of the snow.

6. Be Ready Once Your Car Gets Free

You also need to be prepared for what to do once your car gets free from the snow.

First of all, you will need to turn your traction back on, and if you set your car to low-range 4WD before starting, you should turn it off once you are free.

You should also ensure that your radiator still has adequate airflow and is not packed with snow, as too much snow in the front of your vehicle can cause serious engine overheating.

You may also notice that your steering wheel is vibrating heavily. If it is, you'll want to check your wheels for snow, removing any excess buildup that has been packed into your wheels using a shovel or other tool.

Final Thoughts

When you're stuck in the snow, it can be an easy time to start panicking. However, it can be easy enough to get your car free as long as you remember a few simple tips and prepare as much as possible beforehand.

Ready to learn more about getting your vehicle ready for the snow season? Click here to see more tips on the AAMCO Lee's Summit Blog.

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