If you drive in the winter, you run the risk of your car getting stuck in slush, snow or ice. Fortunately, if you’re armed with these tips and techniques, you shouldn’t be stuck for long!
1- Dig It
If your car gets stuck in the snow and the wheels spin, you’ll need to clear the snow and slush around the tires to free them. To make sure you’re always prepared, it’s a good idea to travel with a shovel in the trunk during the winter months. If you don’t have a shovel handy, try digging with items in your car, such as an ice scraper or even a rolled-up floor mat.
2- Keep It Low and Slow
If you get stuck, there’s no point in trying to rush your way out. In fact, if the wheels spin too quickly, your car may sink further into the snow. Instead, shift into the lowest gear and accelerate slowly to give the wheels the best chance to grip.
3- Use an Aggregate
Snow and slush are too slippery to give your wheels the traction they need to move your car forward. If your car is stuck in the snow, sprinkle some rough aggregate around the tires to give them something to grab onto when you hit the gas. A bag of sand or kitty litter works well. (If you’re caught unprepared on the road, look around for gravel, sticks or other material that might work.
4-Use the Floor Mats
If you don’t have aggregate available, you can use your car’s floor mats to give the wheels the traction they need to get out of the snow. Start by removing as much snow and slush as possible from around the wheels, then place the floor mats under the tires, bottom side up (with the rubber against the wheel). The rubber backing will give your tires something to hold on to while they roll.
5-Turn Off Traction Control
It may seem counterintuitive, but you need to turn off your traction control to get your car out of the snow. Traction control automatically cuts power to your wheels if they start to slip, which in this case is exactly when you need it. To turn off traction control, you may have to hold the button down for several seconds. Once that’s done, dig in your tires, shift into low gear and accelerate slowly out of the snow.
6-Turn the Wheel
If you turn your wheels, you may give your tires a chance to grip new terrain. Try turning the steering wheel in either direction while slowly stepping on the car’s gas pedal. A good turn may provide just enough traction to get you going again.
7-Rock and Roll
If you are stuck in an area where there are no obstacles behind or in front of you, you can use the rocking technique to get your car out of the snow. In low gear, accelerate to move the car forward slightly, then let off the gas or back up quickly to reverse. Before your car has time to stabilize, quickly shift back into forward gear. Repeat these motions to give your car momentum, and hopefully you’ll soon be driving forward enough to get out of the snow.
8-Skip Cruise Control
You may be tempted to use cruise control in bad weather to maintain a constant speed, but you shouldn’t! If your car skids or hydroplanes, it will try to regain its set speed, or even accelerate to do so. It’s best to have your foot on the pedal, where you can feel the sudden changes with the wheels.
9-Stay at Home
Perhaps the most obvious winter driving tip is to stay home! If your work or other responsibilities don’t require you to go out in snowy weather, stay home. Even the best driver can’t predict what can happen on slippery roads.