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.
Keep It Low and Slow
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.
Use an Aggregate
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.
Use the Floor Mats
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
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.
Turn the Wheel
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.
Rock and Roll
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.
Skip Cruise Control
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.
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
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
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.
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!