Getting stuck in the snow is a frequent occurrence in the winter months. When it happens, don’t panic, make sure you’re out of harm’s way, and follow these steps to get your vehicle unstuck. 

WARNING: These steps are only applicable if your car is stuck in a safe, low traffic area. If you’re stuck on a busy road or in the path of traffic, stay in your vehicle if possible, and call emergency services. Refrain from hitting the gas and spinning your wheels. Spinning wheels in snow only gets a vehicle more stuck and decreases traction on ice.

STEP 1 – Make sure your tailpipe is clear

If your tailpipe is clogged by ice or snow, the exhaust fumes have nowhere to go. They will be rerouted into your vehicle which is a potential health hazard. Exhaust fumes can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal and is not detectable by smell. For the safety of you and your passengers, your first step after being stuck in the snow should be to check the exhaust pipe is clear.

STEP 2 – Clear snow and ice from around your tires

After making sure your tailpipe is clear it’s time to clear snow and ice around your tires. Obviously, this is much easier if you have a shovel, so it’s a good idea to store one in your trunk during the snowy season. They make small plastic ones that are perfect for this. If possible clear a few feet in front of and behind the tires so you can move the car back and forth. Be sure to also dig out any snow under the front or middle of your car that is higher than the ground clearance.

STEP 3 – Rock the vehicle

Carefully switching from drive to reverse can help your stuck vehicle gain traction and dislodge some of the snow around the wheels. Drive, reverse, repeat. Do it gently, as aggressive shifting can ruin a transmission.

STEP 4 – Add traction

If clearing snow and ice from around your tires and carefully rocking your vehicle is unsuccessful it’s time to apply a little more traction for your tires. Things like sand, salt, dirt or kitty litter can be used when you are stuck in the snow.  It’s a good idea to store a small bag of salt or kitty litter in your trunk for such emergencies.

STEP 5 – Push help from others

After clearing snow and ice, rocking the vehicle and adding traction are unsuccessful, sometimes the simplest way to get your car out of the snow is to enlist help from others to push your car out of the snow. Gently press the gas while your car is being pushed to add more momentum. Put your helper’s safety first by making sure the ground isn’t too slippery beneath their feet. Double-check that you’re in drive or the forward gear before attempting.

STEP 6 – Call for help

Finally, if you are ultimately unable to dislodge your vehicle from the snow get in touch with emergency services or a towing company, and put your safety, the safety of your passengers, and others on the road.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a snow-related car accident caused by another driver you deserve fair and full compensation for the injuries and damages you’ve suffered. Get in touch with the experienced personal injury attorneys from Craig Swapp & Associates at 1-800-404-9000 or tell us about your story by filling out the online form at the bottom of this page.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp