11 Tricks Every Driver Needs to Know This Winter

If you drive in winter weather, you're running the risk that your car could get hung up in slush, snow, or ice. Fortunately, if you're armed with these tips and techniques, you shouldn’t be stuck for long!

Dig It

How to Dig Car Out of Snow

If your car is stuck in the snow and the wheels are spinning, you’ll need to dig the snow and slush out from around the tires to help free them. To make sure you're always at the ready, it’s a good idea to travel with a shovel in the trunk during the winter months. If you don’t have a shovel handy, try to dig with items that happen to be in your car, such as an ice scraper or even a floor mat held in rolled position.

Related: Expecting Snow? Do These 7 Things ASAP


Keep It Low and Slow

How to Drive in Snow

If you're stuck, there's no use trying to rush your exit. In fact, if the wheels spin too fast, your car could just end up further entrenched in the snow. Instead, put your car into the lowest gear and accelerate slowly to give the wheels the best chance at getting traction.

Related: The 8 Best Tools for Conquering Ice and Snow


Use an Aggregate

How to Get Better Car Traction

Snow and slush are too slippery to provide your wheels with the traction they need to get your car moving. If your car is snowed in, sprinkle some rough aggregate around the tires to give them something to grip when you press down on the accelerator. A bag of sand or kitty litter is great for this purpose. (It's a good idea to keep some stored in the trunk.) If you're caught on the road unprepared, look around nearby for gravel, sticks, or some other material that could do the trick.

Related: 10 Things You Never Thought to Keep in Your Car


Use the Floor Mats

Floor Mats for Traction

If you don’t have any aggregate available, you can use your car's floor mats to give the wheels the traction they need to drive out of the snow. First, dig away as much snow and slush from around the wheels as possible, then place the floor mats under the tires, bottom side up (with the rubber against the wheel). The rubber backing will give your tires something to grip as they roll.

Related: 13 Hacks Every Car Owner Should Know


Turn Off Traction Control

Car Stuck in Snow

It may seem counterintuitive, but you need to turn off your traction control in order to get your car out of the snow. Traction control will automatically cut the power to your wheels if they start to slip, which in this case is just when you need it. To deactivate traction control, you may need to hold down the button for several seconds. Once that's done, go ahead and dig out your tires, get into low gear, and slowly accelerate out of the snow.

Related: 10 Surprising Tips and Tricks for Dealing with Ice and Snow


Turn the Wheel

Turn Wheel to Get Car Out of Snow

If you turn your wheels, you might give your tires a chance to grip some fresh terrain. Try turning the steering wheel one way or the other while slowly hitting the car's accelerator. One good turn might provide just enough traction to get you moving again.

Related: 23 Brilliant Hacks to Help You Weather Winter


Rock and Roll

Rock Car to Get Out of Snow

If you’re stuck in a place where there are no obstructions behind or in front of you, you can use the rocking technique to get your car out of the snow. While in low gear, accelerate to push the car slightly forward, then let go of the gas or quickly reverse to roll back. Before your car has a chance to settle, quickly switch forward again. Repeat these movements to give your car some momentum, and with any luck, you'll soon roll forward enough to get out of the snow.

Related: The 10 Best Accessories You Can Buy for Your Car


Skip Cruise Control

cruise control in winter

You might be tempted to turn on cruise control in bad weather to stick to a steady speed, but you shouldn't do it! If your car skids or hydroplanes, your car will be focused on regaining the set speed, possibly accelerating to do it. You're better off with your foot on the pedal, where you can feel sudden changes with the wheels. 

Related: 10 Things Never to Leave in a Cold Car


Don't Stop

Braking In Snow

Rather than braking, slowly roll to a stop as you approach traffic lights and stop signs. The less you have to hit the brakes in snowy conditions, the better. Plus, it is easier to get moving again while slowly rolling than from a full stop. 

Related: 8 Easy Ways to Winter-Proof Your Car


Check the Pipes

Blocked Exhaust Pipe

If you've been on the road for awhile during a snow or ice storm, you'll want to check to make sure that the exhaust pipes aren't blocked. If snow, ice, or other debris is clogging the pipes it could cause carbon monoxide to leak into the passenger area of the car.

Related: 7 Ways You're Ruining Your Car


Stay at Home

driving in snow

Perhaps the most obvious winter driving tip of all is to just stay at home! If your job or other responsibilities don't require you to be out during snowy weather, then stay put. Even the best driver can't predict what can happen on slick roads. 

Related: The 50 Best Products for Surviving Winter


Winter Wheels

Winter Car Maintenance

Regular maintenance is always needed for your car, but especially so in the winter. Make sure you take the proper precautions, so your car is ready—and safe—for the roads during the winter.


Don't Miss!


Get the help you need for the home you want—sign up for the Bob Vila newslettertoday!