Behind the Wheel

What to Do When You're Stuck

September 21, 2016
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Hindsight is 20/20 right? Like that time you thought the snow didn’t look THAT deep, or when you had a little too much faith in your little car making it through that muddy parking lot. Don’t find yourself stuck thinking woulda-coulda-shoulda; the next time your wheels are spinning but nothing’s moving, follow these quick tips to get you, and your vehicle, out of any sticky situation.
 
Don’t Panic!
First and foremost, JUST STAY CALM. The worst thing you can do is overreact and make the situation worse by making rash sudden decisions (i.e. flooring it for a quick fix)
 
Think Before You Act
There’s some strategy involved when it comes to beating your cars captor. Get out, stand back, and look for what is causing the vehicle to stick. Which wheel is the problem? Is there a path of least resistance?
 
Don’t Spin the Tires
One of the worst things you can do is put the pedal to the metal in hopes of flooring your way out of the situation. Spinning the tires will only dig your car in deeper and can lead to additional tire damage.
Check the Tailpipe
If you’re stranded in deep snow or mud, it’s important to make sure the tailpipe isn’t plugged or blocked in order to prevent carbon monoxide from getting backed-up into the interior of the vehicle. If you see that it’s clogged be sure to clear the blockage to allow exhaust to properly exit the tailpipe.
 
Get Low
Put the car in the lowest gear possible and use a light touch on the gas pedal. Try going backward and forward slowly; gently rocking the car can assisting in generating traction.
 
Break the Ice
If there is ice surrounding the tire, use a hard object such as a screw driver or tire iron to break up the ice. This can create enough grip to stop the tires spinning.
 
Use Your Resources
Floor mats can be a lifesaver when placed under the drive wheels (the tires that move). Get some grip by sliding the mats in front of the tires and giving it a little gas, but remember — don’t floor it. Pulsing movements work best.
 
Get Digging
When stranded in the sand, dig out any that is piled in front of or behind the wheels. Consider keeping a small gardening shovel in your trunk for such occasions — you’ll  be glad you planned ahead.
 
No Pressure
It may seem counterintuitive, but releasing air from the tires until they begin to bulge out can help ease your vehicle out of sand or snow. Reducing the air pressure will widen the tires  and create a greater surface area, bettering your chances at breaking free.
 
Get Creative
Pull some grass, gather some branches, sprinkle gravel —look around for whatever you can find to place under the tires to increase traction.
 
Ask for Help
Nobody likes to admit defeat, but if you’ve tried the above and are still solidly stuck, the best course of action is to call in backup.

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