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Summary
  • Always pack a shovel in the trunk so you can clear the way around your vehicle.
  • You can also ask bystanders for help pushing your vehicle out of the snow with some coordination.
  • Snow chains can also help you get some extra traction, so set them up when your vehicle gets totally stuck.

Getting your ride stuck in tremendous amounts of snow is something of a rite of passage for many drivers. It’s a frighteningly common problem since not everyone has access to garages or parking spaces with roofs over them, exposing their vehicles to the elements. Rainfall is bad enough, but snow has the potential to trap vehicles entirely.

Fortunately, if your vehicle does get stuck in snow, you’re not totally helpless. There are still many things you can do to get it free.

Things to Do When Your Car Is Stuck in Snow

If snow covers the space around your vehicle and prevents you from driving, don’t panic. There’s always something you can do to fix the problem. Here are some of the many ways you can break your ride free from the snow.

clearing path after car got stuck in snow
If snow covers the space around your vehicle and prevents you from driving, don’t panic. There’s always something you can do to fix the problem.

Clear the Path

It’s a good idea to pack a shovel in your car in the winter. When your vehicle gets stuck in the snow, it’s important to clear the snow piled around it. The best way to do this is to shovel away all the snow a few feet in front of and behind your tires.

Ask for Help

One of the best and simplest things to do when your car is stuck in the snow is to ask others for help. The hardest part might be mustering up the courage to holler a stranger over and ask them to help you push your vehicle out of the snow.

If your vehicle is in forward gear, make sure all of you push the vehicle from behind to avoid injuring anyone or damaging your vehicle. If it helps, have everyone heave simultaneously at the count of three.

Rock Your Ride Free

To rock your vehicle free out of the snow, you need to shift your vehicle to the lowest gear and drive forward slightly. After this, drive backward and forward – this time with a little more gas. By putting in more power, you should be able to drive over loose snow, giving you a little boost in traction.

If you hear or feel your tires spinning without making contact with the ground, take your foot off the gas. You should also be wary of damaging your vehicle’s transmission, so take extra care when shifting gears.

Set Up Snow Chains

If you have the time, get your hands on a set of snow chains for your tires. All you need to do is secure the chains around your vehicle’s tires and you should be set. The chains improve your vehicle’s overall traction when driving through snow or ice.

In the event that your vehicle gets stuck in snow, you should be able to power through crunchy snowy surfaces with few problems. Just be sure to take them out when the road gets dry — you might end up damaging the chains, tires, and your vehicle if you don’t. Broken chains can slap the undercarriage.

Toss in Sand, Kitty Litter, or Sawdust

Believe it or not, you can use salt, dirt, sand, and other gritty materials to help you get some extra traction. By scattering handfuls of the stuff beneath your tires, you can make it easier for the tires to drive over and through the snow. If it still doesn’t work, you might have to use more or consider alternative methods.

Winter Driving Tips to Avoid Getting Stuck in Snow

If you want to avoid getting stuck in snow while driving, you need to familiarize yourself with ways to minimize the odds of it happening in the first place. This means preparing in advance by getting winter tires for your vehicle, knowing which speed to drive at when it’s snowy out, and more.

Winterize Your Vehicle

One of the best ways to avoid getting stuck in the snow while driving is to prepare for it in advance.

Winter tires are useful because they’re designed to give vehicles as much traction as possible, making them ideal for driving over snow and ice where vehicles tend to slip.

Regular tires don’t function as well when temperatures drop because the colder the climate gets, the harder the rubber compounds become. Winter tires are made to resist the cold, maintaining their usual traction even when snow begins to fall.

Park Underneath a Roof

If you leave your vehicle out in the open when snow starts to fall, there’s a good chance it’ll end up being covered in the stuff. You’re going to want to park your vehicle someplace with a roof, to stop it from getting snowed in.

In addition, you won’t have to spend extra time shoveling the snow away in a space around your car to create a clear path out.

Check the Forecast and the Temperatures

Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to avoid getting stuck outside is staying indoors when it’s snowing. By paying attention to weather reports, you can refrain from driving on days with forecasted heavy snowfall.

Snow tends to melt at 32°F. If temperatures fluctuate, the now-melted snow can refreeze once more and turn into black ice. This leads to slicker driving conditions that are potentially more dangerous than driving over snowy roads.

Prioritize Control Over Speed

When driving in winter, you need to prioritize your safety over getting to a destination quickly. Maintaining good traction and control is the key to driving in slippery terrain.

The ideal speed you should drive your vehicle in wintertime is between 20 and 40 miles per hour, so accelerate slowly and smoothly. Use the brake pedal for gradual slowing instead of making sudden stops. Slamming the brakes can cause your vehicle to slip and skid, making it harder to control.

Use Front-Wheel Drive

Front-wheel drive works exceptionally well in the snow since the bulk of your vehicle’s weight can be found over the driving wheels, increasing traction. When it comes to driving on slippery surfaces, traction plays an important role since it prevents your vehicle from slipping out of control.

By using front-wheel drive, you can improve traction while simultaneously helping your vehicle move in the direction that you want. Of course, it’s still possible to lose traction by driving too fast, so make sure you maintain a safe and steady speed.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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