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How to Get Unstuck in the Winter

Getting your Car Unstuck

By Lori Straus

As beautiful as the surrounding landscapes can be in the winter, with everything covered in white snow, one of the major inconveniences of winter is getting stuck in the snow. It can even happen with winter tires. Depending on the situation, you may need to call for help. However, in many cases you can likely dig yourself out without waiting for assistance. Here are some tips on how to get unstuck in the winter.

Safety First

Getting unstuck in the winter is harder if you’re panicking. So, no matter what happened, stay calm. Check with your passengers that everyone’s OK. They may be scared, but if you’re panicking, too, it’ll increase their fear and hamper your thinking.

Second, check around your vehicle. Even if you’ve accidentally driven over a snow-covered median in the parking lot, make sure there’s no one around you who could get hit as you’re trying to free your vehicle.

Third, if there’s a chance that your tail pipe might be clogged, get out and check. You don’t want to risk the fumes backing up into the cabin of the vehicle.

Last, increase your visibility: Turn on your hazard lights, put on an emergency vest (the one you packed in your winter emergency kit ), and if necessary, set out your flares.

Spinning Your Tires

In one word, don’t. Spinning your tires will only make the holes underneath them deeper.

You can try rocking your vehicle by slowly accelerating forward and then reversing, but do it gently. Also remember that rocking yourself lose may result in your vehicle sliding or lunging in any direction. Safety first: keep an eye on your surroundings.

Only try this five or six times. If you still can’t free yourself, save your gas and move onto the next step.

Create Traction in Front of and Behind Your Tires

Traction in front and behind your wheels can give your tires the grip they need to move forward. This can include salt, sand, or kitty litter. Even your rubber floor mats can work. (However, don’t give too much gas, because you risk the floor mats getting picked up by the tires.) If you’re in a real bind, you can try jabbing the ice with a screwdriver or some other sharp object to make it bumpy.

Do not use antifreeze under your tires: the fluid is toxic to animals.

Digging Yourself Out

Again, if you’ve properly packed your winter emergency kit, then get the travel shovel that you have in your trunk and start digging. Clear a path at least a few metres so that your car can gain some momentum and get you out.

If All Else Fails…

If you can’t get unstuck in the snow and nobody can help you out, call for help. Then sit in the car and wait tight. Don’t keep the car running to stay warm. Instead, run the engine intermittently. You’ll want to save your gas because you won’t know how long you’ll have to stay outside. If you’re stuck in snow, chances are others are too and they’re also calling for help.

But stay inside your car: the temperatures outside can become dangerous if you’re exposed for too long. In addition, winter weather can turn on a dime, and the last thing you want is to leave your family and other passengers behind in a blizzard.

 

 

 

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