What to Do When Your Vehicle Is Stuck in Snow

So you find yourself stuck in the snow. Maybe overnight there was a snow storm or maybe you parked in a snowbank or maybe you slid into the ditch on the side of the highway. Regardless of how you found your car stuck in the snow, here are a few tips on how to get out quickly and safely.

  • Never run the car if the tail pipe is plugged. A heavy overnight snow that has left your tires spinning might be plugging your tail pipe. If your tail pipe is clogged, you need to clear it or else poisonous exhaust will build up inside the vehicle.
  • Assuming you’re driving a front-wheel drive vehicle, try turning the wheel different directions. You might be able to find some traction
  • Assuming you don’t have any special preparations laid away for this kind of situation, the quickest way to get out may be by enlisting someone to help push you out. A little help goes a long way.
  • You can also let a little air out of the tires to gain a little more traction. Don’t release enough air that the tires are visibly flat.
  • In a car without a limited slip or locking differential or four-wheel drive, you may have the problem of one wheel slipping and another simply not moving. This is because a regular differential distributes torque evenly. Riding the brakes may help send some power to the stuck wheel while the other wheel spins, which might be enough to get you out of the jam. Don’t use this option for long or you can damage your brakes.
  • You can rock the car by rapidly shifting from reverse to drive and that may help you get momentum enough to get out of your rut.
  • If these don’t work, try throwing your floor-mats under the wheels. The mats may be damaged or ruined, so this shouldn’t be a first choice, but it may grab you the necessary traction.

Preparations to Avoid Being Stuck in the Snow


There are a number of preparations you can make to avoid being stuck in the snow.

  • Pack a shovel to dig your tires out.
  • Pack rock salt, kitty litter, and/or sand to help you get some traction and melt the ice.
  • Bleach, antifreeze, or windshield wiper fluid can be poured over the drive tires to help get you out. These substances aren’t the best things to pour onto the ground, so avoid this if possible. Bleach will soften the tire rubber and allow for more traction and the others will melt the snow or ice underneath.
  • Carrying and installing tire-chains when driving in poor conditions can prevent getting stuck altogether.

Honest Car Dealer is your source for automotive advice for any situation.

December 3, 2012 by Jamie Rettig