What to do if your car is stuck in snow: 9 tips and tricks for drivers

We all know how beautiful the landscape looks under a blanket of snow, but the outlook can change pretty quickly when your car is stuck in snow and the white stuff keeps falling. If you find yourself unprepared, don’t freak out. Here are some ways to get yourself out of a snow bank.

1. Assess the situation – If your wheels do nothing but spin when you hit the gas, the best place to start is determining which tire(s) can’t get traction. Do not continue to hit the gas hard – this will merely cause more snow to gather around your tires.

2. Clear snow and ice from your tires – This is when you’ll be thankful for your winter car emergency kit. Use a shovel (if you don’t have a shovel, anything that you can find to clear snow) and dig around your tires and under the chassis. Try to clear enough snow and ice so you can see pavement.

3. Check your exhaust pipe – A clogged exhaust pipe on an idling vehicle will cause a buildup of carbon monoxide, which can leak into the car and could cause injury or death to those who are inside.

4. Toss floor mats, kitty litter or rock salt under your tires – If you can’t dig enough snow away from your tires, you’ll need to find another way to get traction. A mixture of kitty litter and rock salt tossed underneath your tires may do the trick. If you don’t have those items on hand, look for rocks or sticks to shove under your tires. Even placing the floor mats from your car under your tires may provide the traction you need.

5. Put your car in lowest gear – This simple move will make your tires move slower. This could help stop your tires from digging deeper into the snow.

6. Let air out of your tires – but not too much – If you deflate your tires a bit, you’ll have more contact with the ground. Be careful not to let out too much air because you certainly won’t get far with a flat tire either.

7. Rock your car – While in the car, try moving your weight from side to side to force the car lower to the ground. Then move the car forward and backward for 30 seconds. After doing this, slowly accelerate to try to get out of the snow bank.

8. Turn off traction control – While this feature is often helpful, that isn’t the case when it comes to getting your car unstuck from snow. Traction control stops your wheels from spinning if traction can’t be gained.

9. Stay calm – Being stuck in a snow can be frustrating, but losing your cool won’t help matters.

If these tips don’t work, you may be wondering what your best option is to get help. If you are in a populated area and know there is a service station nearby, leaving your vehicle may be wise. On the other hand, if you are in a secluded area, it may be safest to stay in your vehicle until help arrives.

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