When getting behind the wheel, it’s important to consider how the weather may impact your driving or the driving conditions that affect your safety. During the colder months of the year — when the air seems to pierce your face with its crispness — snow can fall and become a driving hazard. While snow may be beautiful to look at while you’re cozy next to the fire, it’s not really something you want to be driving in, especially if conditions are severe. But sometimes things happen, and you may find your car stuck in snow, unable to move. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s what to do beforehand and how to get a car out of snow.
How to prepare beforehand for driving in snowy weather
If you live in a snowy climate (hey there, much of the East Coast and Midwest), it’s important to be prepared and drive with the right kind of tires. There are different types of tires available on the market but you still need something more than your standard tire. You need snow tires, to help you navigate icy and snowy terrain.
Having a car stuck in snow may be due to having the wrong tires. It’s like trying to use a screwdriver when you need a hammer. You need the right kind of tool to help you deal with snow and drive safely. Another thing that can help is having a snow shovel in your trunk in the event you get stuck in snow.
1. Remove snow surrounding the tires
Figuring out how to get your car unstuck from snow requires identifying the problem first. In most cases, the primary issue is that the snow acts as a barrier preventing you from moving forward.
The first step to getting your car unstuck is to remove the snow from surrounding areas of the tire (and this is why a snow shovel will come in handy!). Remove the snow in front of your vehicle and behind your car to make sure you have a runway to drive forward and back up if you need to.
2. Be gentle with the gas pedal
If your car is stuck in the snow, you may have the inclination to hit the gas pedal at full speed to get unstuck. That can leave you spinning your wheels, literally. In other words, it’s not a very effective strategy. While it may seem counterintuitive, be gentle with the gas pedal and slowly allow your car to go forward.
3. Slowly move forward and back up
When driving in snow conditions, you want to be mindful of your transmission and be delicate with your maneuvers. Put your car in drive with your foot lightly on the gas, then slowly transition and back up your car. Doing so can help shake off some of the snow stuck on your tires.
4. Put snow chains on your tires
If you have a car stuck in the snow, one remedy that can help is putting snow chains on your tires. These tire chains can be used in winter to help your tires improve traction in icy and snowy weather conditions.
If you don’t have them, consider buying some and keeping them in your trunk along with your snow shovel. To learn how to install snow chains correctly and safely, you can watch this tutorial.
5. Use various materials to boost traction
When your car is stuck in snow, it’s difficult for the tire to get traction on the road to get moving. The good news is there are various materials you can use to boost traction. These items include:
- Cat litter (win for all the cat owners!)
As you can see from this list, these materials are granular and can increase the traction under your tires. Place one of these materials underneath the tires. Then, slowly press the gas to see if you can move forward. If you need something else you might have in the car, you can try out car mats or cardboard you might have on hand.
Also, if you’re thinking of using other materials to try and melt ice, think again. For example, some substances such as antifreeze or cleaning materials may be poisonous to animals and humans alike. On top of that, it could be illegal or hazardous to do so.
6. Get a helping hand
If you have passengers in the car or there are other people nearby, sometimes a little helping hand can go a long way. A little (wo)man power can help move your car and get it unstuck from the snow.
You want to do this maneuver safely so make sure you’re in drive and put your foot gently on the gas (reverse would be a HUGE mistake!). Have the other people push your car forward to gain momentum.
7. Release some air from the tires
Learning how to get your car unstuck from snow requires some trial and error, and some options may work better than others. One option that may work is to release some air from the tires so they’re slightly deflated, in order to gain more traction.
An important caveat: this is only a good option if you have a tire pump or can fill up your tires with air close by as it can be dangerous to drive on underinflated tires.
8. Get roadside assistance
If you’ve tried the steps above and your car is still stuck in snow, you might need to call the professionals. That’s where roadside assistance can come in handy. Metromile customers with roadside assistance coverage can get much-needed help in a bind.
The bottom line
Figuring out how to get your car unstuck from snow can be a daunting process. Though it can be some work, using these eight tips can provide a fix if you find your car stuck in snow. The most important part is to remain calm as possible and slowly and strategically maneuver the car. Lastly, you can see if you can get additional support from your car insurance provider. Metromile offers roadside assistance and coverage that can benefit low-mileage drivers. You pay gas by the gallon, so why not pay for the miles you actually drive? Get your quote today and learn about our various coverage options.
Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.